A long time ago in a City far away, the religious leaders were worried. The people seemed to be suffering from a deep spiritual malaise. They had tried everything and nothing seemed to work.
They went to see the King who agreed that ‘Something must be done!’ He sent envoys to all the other City states roundabout to see if anyone else had found a solution to this problem.
One envoy returned and said ‘Sire, far to the West of here they have found an ingenious solution to this problem. In that country when someone is sad and low, there is a Holy Man who takes them up to a High Place. When they stand there and look out over the world they get a whole new perspective on things.
‘Does it work?’ said the King. ‘Get me the evidence!’
The envoy went back to the country in the West and brought back all the trial data for the King.
‘Hmm, this seems to work,’ said the King. ‘You must implement it. I will provide a Grant from my treasury’.
The religious leaders looked at the Grant and the trial data and decided they should implement this new idea. They had one problem to overcome. Their City stood close to the desert and the land was very flat.
‘We will build a High Tower,’ they said. ‘The Holy Man will live half way up. He can guide people to the top and there they will get a whole new perspective on things’.
Everyone in the City helped to build this Tower. The merchants provided stone, the stonemasons gave their skills, the peasants provided labour and soon it was done.
A year or so later, the King decided it was time to review the project. When he arrived he found the Tower deserted. He was very angry and called the religious leaders to explain what had happened.
‘Sire,’ they said ‘the people who were sad did not want to go up the Tower. Those that did go up to the top did not feel any better.’
The King was angry. The merchants were angry. The stonemasons were angry. Even the peasants were a bit put out, not that anyone took much notice of them. No-one was speaking to anyone else.
The story of the High Tower of the City of Babel was so famous that it was written down in the Book of Genesis, several thousand years ago. But in that version there is one character missing.
Five miles to the East of the City in an oasis in the desert lived a holy man. He was the Keeper of the Pools of Wisdom where sometimes people would travel to refresh their spirits.
All through this episode he had been muttering ‘It won’t work round here, you know. It won’t work round here’.
And, of course, the Old Keeper had been right. What the envoy had omitted to tell the King was that the City far in the West was surrounded by beautiful, high green hills inhabited by hermits who had gone there to get away from City life.
It is never a good idea to leave the ‘Not Invented Here’ brigade grumbling on the side-lines.
They are the ones who are most likely to spot the intangibles and save a project from disaster.