Should prayer be incorporated in MBA programmes?

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I try to stay away from topics that involve religion or politics, but every once in a while, I have to break my own rules. If this topic offends you, I apologize in advance. Now get over it.



As Georgia descends deeper into drought, Gov. Sonny Perdue has ordered water restrictions, launched a legal battle and asked President Bush for help. On Tuesday, the governor will call on a higher power.

He will join lawmakers and ministers on the steps of the state Capitol to pray for rain.

Perdue won't be the first governor to hold a call for public prayer during the epic drought gripping the Southeast. Alabama Gov. Bob Riley issued a proclamation declaring a week in July as "Days of Prayer for Rain" to "humbly ask for His blessings and to hold us steady in times of difficulty." Political heavyweights outside the U.S. are known to occasionally plead to the heavens for rain. In May, Australian Prime Minister John Howard asked churchgoers to pray for rain in hopes of snapping a drought that has devastated crops and bankrupted farmers Down Under.

With rivers and reservoirs dropping to dangerously low levels across the region, a prayer rally at a high school football stadium in the Georgia town of Watkinsville drew more than 100 worshippers last week, and a gospel concert dedicated to rain attracted hundreds more two weeks ago at an Atlanta church.

"We need to try a different approach," said Rocky Twyman, who organized the concert. "We need to call on God, because what we're doing isn't working."
Greg Bluestein, AP

When I heard about this on the radio earlier today, I have to admit that I was a little shocked. Here's a guy who is basically the CEO of the state of Georgia, and his solution to the drought that is devastating his state is to resort to prayer? Really?

What's next? Animal sacrifices?

What the governor is planning isn't a tent revival, mind you - I'm sure that there won't be any running down the aisles or rattlesnake handling or speaking in tongues - but there will be lots of people turning their faces to the heavens, eyes closed, palms open, calling upon the good graces of the great spirit in the sky in the hopes that magically, he will make it rain.

And you know, it might rain. Why not.

I wasn't born and raised in a culture that looks to an almighty power to solve all of its problems or blames demonic forces for the nasty whims of nature or the many flaws of man, so please excuse my point of view - but this sort of thing just seems to me like an easy way for people to absolve themselves of responsibility.

"Hey, we tried everything, and when that didn't work, we asked God to help. That didn't work either. What else are we supposed to do?"

Um... try not relying on rainmaking, for starters.

Instead of pretending to look for a solution, actually look for one. If that doesn't work, do your job and lead by mandating water restrictions, putting programs in place to educate your constituency as to how and when to conserve water, and take steps to help minimize the impact of droughts on your state in the future. That's what a leader does. What he doesn't do is throw up his hands and put God in charge.

BTW, if magical incantations had any effect on the weather, we'd know by now. (Insofar as I know, the only thing that actually guarantees rainfall is my car getting washed and waxed. Within 24 hours of a waxing, the chances of rain are 100%. You can take that to the bank.)

But you know, I guess prayer rallies are neat little political tricks that play well to certain types of voters, especially in the rural South. As long as he makes a point to put the fate of his state in the hands of God, all a governor has to do once he becomes blameless is be a uniter. And what better banner to stand under than that of religion? It would be insulting if so many people didn't fall for it.

And we wonder why states like South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana have the worst public school systems in the country. Tell me a superstitious, poorly educated electorate isn't easy to manipulate with cheap snake-oil salesman tricks as old as civilization itself.

I'm surprised that Pat Robertson hasn't chimed in yet with proclamations about Georgia's sins having brought the wrath of God on itself in the form of a drought.


It is easy to shed responsibility when you pass the buck up to an omnipotent deity, and even it doesn't fix the problem.

Where do you go from there?
"Well, if even GOD won't fix it, then what can I do about it? My hands are tied now. All we can do is keep praying."

I wonder what would happen to a Fortune 500's CEO if his strategy for growth over the next few quarters relied on... prayer. I would love to be in on that conference call:

"Our performance has suffered over the last fiscal year and we can't really figure out why. We need to try a different approach now. We need to call on God, because what we're doing isn't working."

Yeah. That would fly. I'm sure Wall Street and droves of investors would rally behind that brilliant exercise in deductive reasoning and good business sense.

I guess if I had an open mind, I would consider the possibility that a marketing campaign failed not because it was poorly executed but because God willed it so - or because Satan screwed with it. I might even look upon a market slump as a sign that I, as a CEO, CFO or COO, have not been praying enough for the success of my company.

God might actually fix my P&L too... if I pray hard enough and go to church more.

It's a good thing that the world of business doesn't play by the same moronic rules as the world of politics - at least in the South. Still, I have to wonder how - as a modern society so eager to shun practical magic as primitive and stupid - we still manage to look to prayer as the end-all, be-all solution to so many issues that could be addressed with a little bit of planning and strategic insight.
I also wonder how anyone in a leadership position (aside from religious leaders, whose job it is to do stuff like this) can manage to retain any credibility at all after adopting prayer as a crisis management strategy.
Understand that the issue here isn't people's right to pray or assemble to pray. There is nothing wrong with that. No, the issue is when an adult person in a position of power a) actually believes that by praying or doing a rain dance or sacrificing a chicken under a full moon, he can actually influence his deity of choice to make his wishes come true, and b) invites his constituents, employees or followers to validate his egomaniacal fantasies. If there isn't a credibility issue there, I guess maybe I've missed something.
Executive management tip #1,097: If you really can't help yourself from bringing public prayer into your management strategy, ask a religious leader to take care of it for you. That's his/her job. Not yours. If you want to be a preacher or a minister, resign and go do that.

We really, really, REALLY need to stop acting like helpless, frightened little children, and start taking responsibility for our own fates and actions. (And demand that our elected officials do the same while we're at it.) If there indeed is a god (my views on the matter are irrelevant here), I am sure that he has better things to do than listen to every little selfish prayer we throw his way. It's one thing to be spiritual and religious and proud of it. It's another entirely to act like a complete tool by asking god to solve every little problem we're too lazy to deal with ourselves.

Now if you don't mind, I need to go pray about the separation of church and state in Georgia, evidently.

Way to stay on top of things there, gov'.

Have a great Tuesday, everyone. ;)

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