If Cows Can Learn, So Can We!!

I hope that the video that I have inserted into this entry works! It is a fun video, something that was sent to me on WhatsApp, by my class group. Bless their souls!

This is a bit of a quirky post, so I assume that it is best to treat it that way! But, take a close look at the video, and I assume that this is not a trick video.

The cow manages to use the hand pump to get water to drink on, what must have been, a hot Indian day. Water, as we know it, is manna to a thirsty soul.

Assuming that the cow has intelligence beyond what we associate with cows, the cow has watched us human beings, as we operated the hand pump, and decided that this would work for it. Since it does not possess the same kind of hands that we have, it improvised by using it’s head to move the pump-handle, and then with a quick movement, drank some water. 

Brilliant. This is what we learn as kids. We learn by watching, and then improvising as we go along. Until, the adult or parent voice (if you prefer transactional analysis!) tells us to follow rules and not to improvise.

The key to learning is not just watching, but learning to live with the failure of improvisation. Improvisation allows, or encourages us, to make the best of our constraints, and to make the improvements that fit within the scales of our circumstances and resources. 

And then, we stop. 

Improvisation, more often than not, stops. Holy rules become holy cows, and that becomes the sacred law. 

Innovation happens when we take improvisation to a new level, and then new thinking and improvisation thinking go hand in hand. 

The folks who created the hand pump several centuries ago were probably iconic geniuses, especially as their invention transcended space. These hand pumps are found across India, as the technology was indigenized with glee. But, what happened through the centuries? While the pumps work well, do they work well enough?

The questions to be asked are, amongst others:

  • Has the water table dropped, and can the pump pull water?
  • Since the population has increased, does the pump design need to be modified?
  • Do you need to add distribution lines to the pump?

It is only when we ask questions that challenge the status quo, that challenge the line that “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, will we innovate to improve.

The cow learned, and improvised.

Will the blessed creature stop there, or will it bequeath it’s learning to it’s calves as one more sacred cow, to be followed by generations of cows as a truth that cannot be tampered with? 

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