Why nobody will ever love you for doing the wrong things correctly
Legend has it that a group of development experts from a rich European country packed their bags and goodwill and headed for a remote village in Africa. The region had been torn by war and poverty and water was a scarce resource. The town where they had landed was perhaps the hardest hit in the area. The women, in charge of all houselhold chores, had to walk 10 kilometers down the road both ways to get fresh water from a well. These journeys entailed walking for four hours every day under harsh conditions, carrying the equivalent of 5 kilograms on their head and shoulders. It was a heavy load, but barely enough for cooking, drinking and minimal bathing.
The experts, of course, knew that this situation had to end. By building a well in the location, they could save these women valuable time and a few vertebrae. All while keeping an abundant freshwater supply. How is that for a value proposition?
So the experts rolled up their sleeves and dedicated their available resources and time to building a new shiny well. The women in the village could finally enjoy a bit of comfort under extremely harsh conditions. Nobody in the right mind could question this act of philantropy.
Four months later, the well was ready for inauguration. The village elders thanked the development experts for their goodwill and efforts. There was a feast and the village celebrated their newfound good fortune.
Not a week had passed from the inauguration when an unexplicable event occurred. The well was found broken and useless. The women had to once again go fetch their fresh water supplies on another village. So the experts made an extra effort and rebuilt the construction.
And yet again, the well was found broken. What could be happening? Who in the right mind could be making these women suffer?
It took one of the experts a few days to find out, and she was shocked when she did. The village women had been going at night to break the well.
It turned out that these women cherished the four hours walking to and from the well. It was the only time of the day when they could relax. They could talk to each other freely, complain and gossip away from their obligations as wives and mothers.
How could this happen? How could goodwill, talent and resources not be enough? How could something that seems so obvious be a misconception?
As a matter of fact, as many entrepreneurs will tell you, things are not always what they seem.
Why are we telling you this story?
Stop and think about what you have scheduled in this week. Are you spending hours building wells that your customers will want out of their way? How could you know? The bad news is that you will never know what will happen until it happens. The good news is that through prototyping, you can