Somewhere, in a warmer part of the world, there was an unhappy mango farmer named Becu. Becu dreamed of a living in a non-tyrannical regime. Life, in other parts of the world, seemed so much better. People had freedom, self-determination…not to mention nicer things.
One day he had enough. Becu gathered the other local mango farmers and gave an impassioned speech about being free.
The mango farmers descended on the local square and would not be silenced. Soon the square was overflowing with people who also dreamed of being free from the tyranny of the oppressive regime.
The mango farmers inspired a nation. Millions of people descended on local squares.
Eventually, the tyrannical government was replaced with a freely elected government resembling the ones on T.V.
The hope was palpable. The mango revolution was decalared a success.
The mango farmers went home to their mango farms and went back to work farming mangos.
The mango farmers did what they always did, dropped off their produce in the same collection point they always did, except, there was no one there to pick them up as the central planning function had also collapsed. Millions of mangos went bad.
Week after week the mangos would spoil. The mango farmers began to grow unhappy and blame the new government.
Months later, with millions of spoiled mangos, the mango farmers once again descended into the streets, calling for the removal of the new government and a restoration to the way things were.
The former system was restored.
Everything went back to normal with three notable exceptions; the original mango farmer was exiled, the restored regime became far more tyrannical and mangos were outlawed as a subversive fruit. And so ended the mango revolution…
“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things ” — Niccolo Machiavelli
This story should be familiar to anyone who has attempted to change a large organization. I have personally seen this story play out a number of times in large organizational systems.
“They did too much too fast.” “We needed evolution not revolution.” “They didn’t understand our culture” Are statements I have heard numerous times.
Perhaps that is correct.
What is undeniable is that the system has changed. Given enough time the system usually benefits from that change although, those who originated it are rarely ever given credit.
- Introducing a large change into a stable system is insanely difficult. If its not hard, you are probably not changing much.
- It will take twice as long as you think and you will be given half the time to do it. “Cause and effect are not closely related in time and space.” -The fifth discipline.
- You will most likely be blamed. Think Michael Burry.
- Given enough time the change will succeed and you probably not be given credit unless you managed to ride it out. Think Michael Burry again.
- Do not attempt a large scale organizational change if you do not have the time and power to change it. Think Steve Jobs return to Apple.
- Personally, there is no greater calling than trying to change things for the better however difficult.
This post first appeared here.