In Brazil, each Escola de Samba, or Samba school, works all year long to develop their portion of the Carnaval parade. The people who put together these elaborate affairs are not the wealthy of Brazil. In fact, some of the schools are located in favelas. This portion of the Brazilian population is able to implement productions that put Broadway to shame. Yet, we can’t get a stadium ready to safely hold patrons for the biggest futebol event in the world.
The people who clean houses, service cars and ring up groceries participate in, execute on and somehow fund annual plans for a contest that involves choreography, musical scores, costume design and three dimensional art.
What do we learn about Brazilians business skills looking at carnaval? Brazilians…
1. …are very creative.
From concept to colors, the creativity that goes into these events is remarkable.
2. …can design and execute a one-year plan.
It takes a heck of a lot of planning to pull off this type of production. Plans that must include both short and longer term strategies, as well as action plans with detailed tactics and designated tasks.
3. … can lead the masses.
Somebody at each school has to be directing the process. That means organizing hundreds of people over the course of a year, at various points, to all achieve one objective. That means decisions are being made in advance.
4. … can take direction.
Based on the results, participants are ready and willing to follow orders, orders that have got to be direct and specific. Not only are they being led, but they are working together. This kind of result doesn’t come from each doing their own individual thing.
5. … have a sense of humor.
União’s put on a gorgeous “Toy Story” themed event full of gigantic, beautiful characters with dancing rubix cubes and dolls, etc. It was a wonderful and exotic display of childhood happiness.
However, did anyone else catch that there was a huge, knife wielding, Chucky doll on the back of one of the floats?
Now that’s funny.
Let’s face it, business leaders and politicians in Brazil most often come from wealthy families. Nepotism runs deep in this country. Everybody who is anybody has got an uncle who can make things happen for them. Yet, what do we learn about Brazilian business skills when we examine the actual business or environment? Brazilians…
1. … struggle with project management.
It’s not that Brazil businesses don’t get things done. They do. But they most often get things don’t at the last minute at twice the cost.
2. … avoid formal and efficient processes and procedures.
Anyone who has opened a business in Brazil or has tried to implement procedures within a corporation knows what I’m talking about. It can be very difficult to get commitments to move forward in the same direction.
3. … sidestep deadlines and deliverables.
It seems that Brazilian business people always assume your deadline is padded. If that is not the case, then it must be a complete disregard for your deadline – but I choose to believe the former. Again, it is a commitment issue.
So why can’t businesses have the same strategies as the carnaval crowds? Could it be that we have the wrong people running things around here?