The reign of the Merry Monarch has come to an end, and one ma y well ponder that there is so much that is paradoxical about Carnival. On the one hand, it is the time o f the year when tremendous discipline is displayed in the practice and perfection that take place in the pan yards in the months leading up to Panorama.
Yet, just the opposite occurs when employees stay away from work on Ash Wednesday in their numbers, crippling productive enterprises that depend on them for the wheels of business to turn.
Then there is the productivity in Carnival. The planning and organisation of work in the mas’ camps, to get a band of thousands of people on the road on Carnival Monday and Tuesday, properly costumed, must be supported by immense productivity, even where the costumes are sadly, mainly imported. Yet still the average productivity in the workplace is generally low, and even more so at Carnival time.
The spirit of Carnival is alive and well in our children, judging from youth involvement in steelbands, calypso competitions, mas’ parades and many other activities which happen behind the scenes. Yet all this is overshadowed when large numbers of students stay away from school on Ash Wednesday.
And what about the creativity and design innovation displayed during Carnival? Every year Kings and Queens of the Bands provide us with a feast of colour and intricate design details. Yet there seems to be little design innovation carried into the workplace in either process methodologies or new product or service ideas.
What are the lessons to be learnt from Carnival therefore? What conditions drive the positive attributes and how they can be applied to a work setting? It has been proven that workers must feel part of the enterprise and enjoy what they do, and must get proper training that allows them to perfect the art, using the right tools. Next, the spirit of teamwork energizes the group and creates a bond among them that builds momentum for success. Thirdly, the national Carnival competition is a tangible desirable goal that is visible in the participants’ line of sight, and serves as a powerful motivator for the level of effort expended. Then there are the obvious opportunities for entrepreneurship that excite the natural instincts of Trinis, from small scale business such as food carts in the bands or air brush painting, to large scale enterprise such as allinclusive fetes, mas’ bands or rental of electronic sound systems.
The reality is that we have built an industry and a season that is unique to TT, with a loyal following among foreigners, returning residents and locals alike. The season generates foreign exchange and substantial business for the tourism and entertainment industry. We need to nurture it to ensure that it continues in a sustainable manner.
However, we must ensure that its growth is not built at the expense of the rest of the economy, where other legitimate business is endangered during this period for lack of productive and functioning resources. Maybe we can take example from Bollywood which has developed into a well-run economically viable business that positions India as a dominant player in the global film industry.
This would be an excellent example of economic diversification at work. Imagine the paradox if Carnival is transformed to become one of the country’s most lucrative and successful businesses with a work ethic that can be used to pattern the rest of the nation.