Once upon a time there was a young engineer who had just finished doing an MBA at the famous Vlerick management school in Belgium. He was in search of an adventure before going back into the traditional world of work, so you can imagine his delight when the Dean of the school offered him and his two friends the chance to go to Haiti on a charity mission.
The task in hand was to design and build a simple water supply system leading from the top of a mountain down into a small hillside village. Late one night, after a long and exhausting trip the engineer and his friends finally arrived in the village. The conditions were appalling, they expected hardship but the poverty and backwardness took them by surprise. The villagers had no electricity or running water at all. There were not even any roads.
The very next day the three men got down to work. They climbed the mountain and examined the small lake that formed the source of the supply. Over the next five days they measured and drew up maps, debated between them the very best route and designed and re-drew every little detail until finally they had a thoroughly tested and ready to implement plan.
“It won’t work” the Mayor told them. “With respect Sir” the young engineer answered “We believe it will. We have checked and double checked every aspect of our design”.
“It won’t work the Mayor repeated.” “You are not the first bunch of men to come to my village and make pretty drawings of your so called solution and your plan, seems very similar to the last one” the Mayor continued.
“I am sorry to contradict you Sir” the engineer interjected “We don’t know the last design but let me assure you that I am an engineer and I understand about pipe diameters and resistive flow and the need for intermittent, float based, storage tanks.”
“I am sure you do” said the Mayor “but it won’t work.”
“Well I can assure you that this one will” said the young engineer again.
“We have even checked the supply of suitable pipes and parts before we left and we know that they can be flown out within a matter of days.” added one of the engineer’s companions. “We can, with the help of a few villagers, build everything right here using the most basic of tools.”
“It won’t work” said the Mayor again “but if you say it will then that’s great” he added. “However, I have one last question for you. May I assume then that you have managed to successfully negotiate a sustainable deal with the two families that, for as long as anyone can remember, have been carrying the water to our village?” the Mayor concluded.
Have a good week,
‘Thanks to my friend Jacques for that story, I hope I have done it justice?’