“Yes, we can succeed! It’s only that we have not been given the chance.”
The quote above is the stock answer that I receive from group members when I ask for details about the business ideas that they are pitching. By all signs, the statement is accurate. But for me that’s besides the point; I agree that there is a possibility of success, it’s the probability of failure that concerns me.
According to my worldview, foreseeing is a type of knowing. In planning for a business, it is not only possible to use foresight, but it is necessary.
So I ask:
“Yeah sure, it could succeed, but what is this actual plan that can succeed? How will you organize yourselves to ensure fairness and accountability? How will you plan for the resources and supplies that you need to keep the business running?”
The group members do not quite see things the same way.
“Aaaahhhh, these things. We cannot know until we try.”
When they come into contact, those two incompatible worldviews lead to a perpetual feedback loop that looks like this:
Shaun – “I can help you find the resources that you need to actually start when you have a reasonable plan.”
Groups – “We can make a plan about the things that we will do when we have resources.”
Shaun – “But I won’t be able to help you find the resources until you have the plan.”
Groups – “But we won’t be able to make the plan until we have resources, and we cannot find them without you.”
I could continue…
In all fairness to the groups, I should add the detail that it’s not that the groups have no plans, it’s instead that they have plans that I find to be so vague and sparse that they might as well not be plans. I listed a few of these in my previous post about the Business Model of Repetition.
At this point, I think that it is reasonable for me to clearly identify the privileged voice that I have in writing this post: if you heard about this situation around a fire in a village in Bulozi, instead of on my blog, you would probably have learned about the anal white dude who obsesses endlessly about things that cannot be known and details that don’t matter. You would hear about the man who talks, talks, talks, instead of using the money that we know he possesses to do something useful.
There are obviously ways to end this dance. Above, I described my privilege to tell the story, which is also the privilege to frame the narrative. In this narrative, I have choices – another privilege afforded to me. Through this privilege, I can, at least, 1) give the money or 2) walk away.
In all actuality, I think I will do a bit of #1 and a bit of #2. I know, I know…that vague proposition is the equivalent of me telling you almost nothing. But what I’m thinking is kind of hard to describe. Instead, I’ll tell you how it goes.