May 12, 2014

During a Chinese Wedding dinner, I would take the opportunity to talk about food and stories about food. Remember you are sitting down with strangers and you need to build rapport with them for the next 4-5 hours to finish the 8-course dinner fit for the emperor of ancient China.

There is a Chinese fable in which mischievous Bo-Bo, the son of the swineherd, Ho-ti, was asked to take care of his father’s hog. He was playing with fire crackers and accidentally caused a fire which burned down the family wooden house and the nine hogs sharing the living space. However, Bo-Bo discovered the gastronomic wonder of roast pig when he puts his fingers into his mouth after burning them on one of the crispy critters.  He licked his fingers to soothe the pain when he burnt them as he touched one of the bodies! Previously people ate their meat raw. When Ho-ti returned, Bo-Bo told him of the same discovery. The pig tasted so delicious that he gorged himself on handfuls of scorched skin and flesh, to the horror of his father, who considered that eating burnt pig was most unnatural. Bo-Bo persuaded his father to try this new food, and the older man was equally enthusiastic, but warned that their roast pork must remain a secret. Eventually, of course, the story got out because people noticed that the cottage burns down more frequently than ever. The practice caught on and soon villagers, far and wide, were burning down their cottages to enjoy roast pig, until they realized  they could roast a pig without destroying the house in the process.

Management Lesson:

Charles Lamb wrote this story with a lesson in mind: You don’t have to burn down your house just to get roast pig. In management we have to be wary of the confusion of causal links at work. Managers make mistakes over this concept of causefusion as mentioned by Zachary Shore.

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