Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Genesis of "Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom"

The HR flack was speaking about our internal initiatives. She was soliciting ideas. "Our attitude is 'let 1,000 flowers bloom' on this." - Consultant Ninja experience
Our world is full of pithy sayings like this, and I have sensed a rise in its usage in the past year. Few people ever consider the source of it.
"Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land." Mao Zedong, February 1957
After this speech, Mao Zedong listened carefully and thoughtfully for six weeks. Criticisms were diligently recorded, along with their source. Then, Mao had those who spoke up executed or sent to prison camps.*

It pisses me off that HR staff, who lecture us about cultural sensitivities and diversity, choose to quote a mass murderer. Next time I'll ask them to use a quote from Hitler.

* Mao, the Untold Story

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As an aside it may be worth while to post an entry on obnoxious consulting / business cliches'. A few examples may include:

out of pocket: A phrase commonly used to indicate that one is unavailable or busy. Those that commonly use this phrase are most likely available; however, they have preferred to ignore their responsibilities temporarily.

low hanging fruit: engaging in activities that are simple in nature that yield immediate returns. The lowest fruit is often that which is laying on the ground - invested with ants and rotten.

Out of the box: Incapable of generating an original idea or improvement, therefore, a box must be manifested so that we can limit our constraints. Although thinking out of the box is a nice notion, many ideas are neither wanted, acknowledged, or actually implemented.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009