Tag Archives: csi

The Irony of Fake and Empty Mini-Tycoons

To give something to someone should be a humbling honour. To give something to someone on behalf of another is daunting and terrifying; the irony of an arrogant middle man in middle management is not just infuriating, it is sad.

If I were employed to run the CSI division of a wealthy company, I hope that I would try to do things differently. I would be brave in demanding a stark realisation where good theory and good praxis meet. Instead of strategy, scope and return, I would ask questions of value, respect, sacrifice and compassion. Not as a side comment, but as a constant fundamental.
The kid, the recipient of CSI help, that kid is and should be treated as more important as the CEO of the company giving the cash.

For those not familiar with the game, here is a small breakdown of typical events:
– 8 August 2012: Meeting the very important middle man (woman)
– 8 August 2012: She makes her three first time visitors sit and wait in a board room, being 30 minutes late for a meeting
– 9 August 2012: Follow up email sent as requested
– 10 August 2012: The CSI team confirms a visit to the kids for 20 August
– 15 August 2012: Meeting cancelled, after kids were already informed
– 4 September 2012: Follow up email after not receiving a new date
– 10 September 2012: Follow up email
– 6 November 2012: Follow up email after receiving no correspondence
– 14 January 2013: Follow up email after hearing nothing
– 17 January 2013: receive new date for visit to those kids
– 23 January 2013: another confirmation of the visit on 13 Feb 2013
– 11 February 2013: receive notice of cancellation of visit with kids
– 11 February 2013: I sent rude-ish email suggesting no further visits, despite this company having the potential to fund
our whole programme and the fact that it is a perfect strategic alignment
– 11 February 2013: I am driven to blog by my disgust for rich people forgetting ‘their’ people and wondering when the
struggle for dignity and freedom became a struggle for glamour and luxury.

CSI makes sense when it is characterised by true generosity, respect and dignity. Mutual learning and equality should be assumed as normative. Sure there are stories to tell, but if the story behind the story is one of power, paternalism and disrespect, the whole thing gets ugly quickly.

Let us be at our best behaviour when we have a chance of giving, not when we have a chance of gaining. Respect the beggar, uneducated, poor and weak before sucking up to the powerful and wealthy. The latter has the power to promote us, but the former has the power to save us.

The CSI of CSI

When you go to a rural area, a township, a squatter camp; and you’re faced with poverty; the correct response is not to say “ah shame” and do some hand-outs, paint some walls, take pictures, put it in a newsletter… When you do CSI as in Corporate Social Investment, you should also do CSI as in Crime Scene Investigation. When you get to a ‘poor’ situation you should immediately say “a crime has been committed”. By who? Against who? What societal and social crimes have been committed in this place to leave young children so vulnerable? Who is the culprit? The rich. Did they do direct harm or is their crime perhaps that of apathy, neglect? Using the labour of the parents, but not paying them enough so they can school their kids?

The other day I thought, anyone driving a car worth more than R500 000 is somehow stealing from the poor. You can earn a lot, but if you use those earnings to splash exuberant luxury on yourself then you should be wondering if you are being humane, human or an animal. But I regress….

The cost of living is high, if you’re living a lie. If you need such expensive toys to make yourself feel better, you may be on the wrong track, your moral compass might be broken.

Maybe you and I are the criminals that the crime scene speaks of… And lets not get stuck on a figure. If we absorb luxury while others have unmet needs, we are criminals. Social criminals and that is not an easy truth to face. Just say Schalk is getting extreme again. Will that help? Mirrors can be scary.

Now, going to a poor area, seeing kids suffer, not getting their basic needs and rights met, that can surely make you feel sorry for them and you might be tempted to say “shame” “poor them”, it is very good to feel this, and you should feel pity, you should feel sad, even a bit guilty. Yet, you are allowed to feel that, but not say that! If you say it, you come across as patronizing and condescending. So feel it, just don’t say it! :-) Feel the pity, but act out of respect, act smart, act long-term. Do crime scene investigation, what is the cause of the poverty? What is the root of the problem? How is the wealthy implicated in this tragedy?

So to be the master of CSI, be a double CSI agent. For Corporate Social Investment you need to do Crime Scene Investigation…

That is the CSI of CSI.