The Story Of Sammy

I was once introduced to an expatriate, let us call him Sammy, who proudly identified himself as a “businessman”. The business in question was Import-Export. It all sounded very grand, but what it all boiled down to was that Sammy spent his days in a squalid little office full of junk that he had successfully imported from his home country, half a world away, and completely failed to sell to a living soul. This was partly because no one with two working brain cells would buy it, partly because he seemed to have no plan for getting it sold, other than to the friends-of-friends who incautiously allowed themselves to be brought to his den. Sammy had nevertheless persisted in these “business operations” for decades, supported by his wife; don’t ask me what she saw in him. Had he been a native Englishman in the UK, he would probably have spent those decades exiled to the garden shed, so as to “get him out of the house”.

Sammy struck me as a perfect example of what we might call the cargo cult of business. Although he did not have the remotest idea of how to make his own money, he was nevertheless quite convinced that, by creating a tatty office and faithfully sitting there, and by printing business cards that called him a manager or director, he would attract the attention of the god Mammon and be vouchsafed riches. That is, the outward imitation of the forms of business would cause the inward grace to descend. It was a religious rather than a rational enterprise, and so neither hard work nor good sense was required. Now, the question is: how well does this scale – how far up the business ladder does the cargo-cult mentality extend?

Posted on March 6, 2010 at 11:43 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink
In: MONKEY BUSINESS, Management As Cargo Cult

Leave a Reply