I never cease to be amazed by the strangeness of certain “children” stories. Recently, I have been reading “Sleeping Beauty” to my junior when I got struck by the odd things and decisions told by the story. I know it’s a story and annoying things have to happen so that the story can exist, but the parallels to real life seem to be quite striking.
You know the story: a king and a queen have a baby daughter and they invite 7 fairies at the christening, forgetting the 8th one (“old and ugly” – I will not even talk about this…). After the first 6 fairies give the baby beauty, wisdom, wit, grace, etc. the wicked fairy steps in and puts an enchantment on the girl: she will prick her finger in a spindle and die. The last fairy comes to the rescue and declares that the girl will not die but sleep for 100 years and will be awakened by a handsome prince.
Now, don’t you feel this is odd? The last fairy did indeed save the day, but did she really do it properly? Why didn’t she say 10 years, one year, 10 months, one month, a day, or why didn’t she simply say that the princess will take a nap when the spindle will prick her?
Wel, I tell you why: because this cheeky fairy has made a very lucrative market for herself for these 100 years. She sticks around for the first 16 years, then when the tragedy strikes, apparently concerned by the fact that the princess will know nobody when awaken, decides to put all the palace to sleep, then builds around the palace a thick forrest. As I said the fairy kept herself quite busy. She then had to keep an eye on the castle for the next 100 years, making sure that no undesirable individual makes his way through the thick wall of thorns and trees.
She also is around when the time has come – after those 100 years – when, conveniently, a handsome prince comes along and, after countless others have bravely died fighting with the thorns, simply walks in thanks to the fairy magically removing the thorns in his path.
I’m sure the king and the queen were not very happy when they got the bill from the fairy. But hey, can you blame her? The story has a happy end after all and she did work hard for those 100 years.
Why am I rambling about this? I’ll tell you why: I feel sometimes in consulting people behave like this 7th fairy. They save the day, but they make sure that they get a good deal out of it. They will not come up with a simple, quick and elegant solution if that solution will exclude them in the future. They would rather have a long detour and use all their power to convince the king and the queen that more work is needed to reach the goal.
Have you had an experience with a “7th fairy” type consultant? Are you a “7th fairy” consultant? Tell me what you think.