Team Management Systems

God Will Provide

By Chris Patty
Copyright © Chris Patty. All rights reserved.

E-mail this article to a friend or colleague E-mail this article to a friend or colleague

The story.....

In the western plains of Queensland, the floods arrived. For days the Balonne River rose and swelled until finally it burst its banks inundating the surrounding countryside. On a property in the path of the deepening flow of water was the homestead of James O'Farrel, a sturdy, God-fearing stalwart of the bush. As the river rose he remained in the homestead sure in the knowledge that all would be fine.

As the river rose higher, the local radio station alerted all residents to the danger and told them to move to higher ground. James O'Farrel stayed put and said, "All will be fine, God will provide". As the water rose higher still, the local police warned people to move house until the danger had passed. James O'Farrel swept this aside and said to himself "God will provide".

The water continued to rise until the water was lapping at the steps of the property. The local SES rowed up in a boat to offer James assistance with his move. James merely smiled and said "God will provide". Eventually the water in an ever-increasing tide swelled to cover James' house. He stood on top of the roof as a rescue helicopter hovered overhead pushing away the line, calmly proclaiming "God will provide". The last rescuers saw was James' bald head as he was swept away in a raging torrent, mouth open, mouthing, "God will provide".

At heavens' gates James asked to speak with God. "Why?, God, Why did you let me down?", he pleaded. "I trusted you and believed that you would provide". "What more would you like me to do?" replied God. "I put out a radio message, told the police and SES to visit. I even sent a helicopter. How much more provision do you need?".

The end......

Some Thoughts

So, what do you make of this? I could be glib and say that bald headed, God fearing stalwarts of the bush deserve what they get. I'd prefer to think that there is something in the story to do with recognizing opportunities and taking advantage of them. I'm sure you can project much more onto the tale as well but this seems like a salient point for me.

Often in organizations, as in life, we don't recognize opportunities when they are there in front of us. We fail to notice the cues and clues that are provided for us and follow a course of action, often based on untested assumptions, regardless of surrounding conditions. The flood is very much like the slowly boiling water in the boiling frog tale. (You know the one, how a frog is insensitive to incremental increases in water temperature. You put a frog in a pot of water and slowly increase the temperature...eventually the water boils and the frog dies. If however the frog is suddenly put in boiling water it will jump out.). I think for many organizations the water is on top of the roof (or boiling if you prefer that metaphor) and we've failed to see it rising. We need to start shouting and organize our own rescue.

So, how do we become aware of the warning cues in our environment? This requires more than just having good checking procedures and fiscal responsibility. It means really listening to the hearts, minds and spirits of the people throughout organizations and paying attention to how the deep structures in society such as bureaucracies, philosophies and culture (among others), create both barriers and opportunities for growth. It involves effective leadership and subsequently effective 'followship'. It means finding passion in your work or perhaps finding how to bring who you are to what you do regardless of the work. It means everybody asking 'How, What, Why' questions and not just 'How much will it cost?'. It means having the beacon on the hill that we're aiming for even though we're not sure how to get all the way there through the fog, but being able to see a stable next step.

I think Rick Ross (of Fifth Discipline fame) captures it well when he says that awareness of opportunities can be developed by continually asking:

  1. How can we create a sense of urgency throughout the organization and design it so that we respond more quickly to changing organizations?
  2. How can we increase the skills and capabilities of our people to cope with continuous change?
  3. How can we transform our organizations' culture to ensure that we collaborate internally...reducing 'silos' and increasing teamwork?
  4. How can we create an organization where new ideas are constantly generated, shared throughout the company...and acted upon quickly?

Awareness of the opportunities is the start and as Rick Ross points out above, this needs to proceed to action creating further opportunities. This sounds exciting and challenging. I'm already on the lookout for my next opportunity.

Copyright © Chris Patty. All rights reserved.

Chris Patty is an accredited member of the Team Management Systems Network. He can be contacted at:

  • Featured Product
    Games TMS People Play Games TMS People Play