Bushtucker trial, anyone?

9th December 2005 at 00:00
There used to be this really popular children's TV programme called Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. Filmed, unsurprisingly, in an Australian national park, it featured an almost tame marsupial, the favourite of a clean-cut boy called Sonny, and his dad Matt, the park ranger. The thing about Skippy was how intelligent he was. He was so canny that he would try to communicate important information to those around him. Not being much of a talker, he chose instead to do a lot of nervy hopping about while people tried to work out what on earth he wanted.

"Look everybody!" Sonny would say, "Skippy's trying to tell us something.

What's that Skippy? You want Matt and me to develop a strategy for..."

"Now hang on!" you cry. "I see where you're going with this. You're building up some sort of daft management analogy, aren't you? You're going to suggest there's a Skippy the Bush Kangaroo leadership style, where the boss spends ages hidden in the undergrowth, emerging only occasionally in a state of extreme agitation, and everyone has to guess what's wanted. That's what this is all about, isn't it?" Now that's quite a thought. I have to say that it hadn't occurred to me. In fact, without any trouble at all I can think of several screen creatures about whom it simply wouldn't be possible to conjure any kind of half-baked management parallels. Let's see, there's Thumper, the rabbit in Bambi. Thumper bangs the floor to warn of approaching trouble, and then dashes down a hole when things get difficult.

You're not telling me there are people like that in schools? Or Dumbo the flying elephant? Flapping about over everyone's head at 10,000 feet and ending up acclaimed as a hero? Do you know anyone like that?

Then there's King Kong. Try as you may, you won't find a human equivalent.

Think about it. Someone tries to improve the performance of an organisation by recruiting a big and frightening chest-thumping gorilla with a tough-guy reputation. He gives everyone a hard time but in the end overplays his hand, makes a mistake with a young favourite and ends up getting shot down.

You'll search for an age before you find anything like that in real life.

Now what's that, Skippy? Time's running out and we haven't had the minutes of the last meeting yet? Oh, allright then.

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