How Tricksters Spot and Create Opportunities
Long before the world was as it is today, when the first men walked the hills and forests, Raven was made and given the task of distributing food to the hungry. But he found the people distressed because there was yet no light in the world, and they stumbled around in the endless night. Raven himself was distressed, for in the darkness, how would he find the food to feed himself, let alone the other people?
But Raven remembered that in the heaven from which he came, there was light. And so he made up his mind to return there and take it.
He dressed himself in his Raven skin, and flew up through the night until he found a hole in the sky. Passing through, he removed his skin and settled himself by a gently bubbling spring, not far as it happens from the lodge of the Chief of Heaven.
When the chief’s daughter came down to fetch water from the pool by the spring, Raven quickly changed himself into a tiny cedar tree leaf, which the girl accidentally swallowed when she drank from the pool. Strange to say, but nevertheless it is so, she became pregnant after a short while, and months later bore a child.
The chief’s family were delighted as the child prospered and grew and learned to crawl, but the child refused to settle, and would cry constantly. This was distressing and troublesome for the chief, who summoned his wise men to help the child. As were standing around discussing what to do, one of them noticed that the child seemed to want the box that hung upon the wall that contained daylight. When the box was taken off the wall and placed near the child, he at last stopped his crying. Everyone was relieved.
Several days later, when everyone in the household had gone about their usual business, and had learned to ignore the child, he popped the box upon his back and slipped out of the house. The chief and his family give chase, but before they can catch up with the child he reaches the hole in the sky, slips on his raven skin and swoops back to earth. There he breaks open the box, and daylight floods into the world for the very first time.
Many ideas are taken from somewhere else and adapted to a new situation. Some of the most influential inventions in our recent history are the result of people spotting the unused potential in a design or prototype not envisioned by the inventor. The skills and the environment required to nurture new ideas is not the same as that needed to develop prototypes, or commercialise products, and so innovation often involves the transfer of ideas and information across organisational boundaries.
In this story, Raven is the trickster. Tricksters seek out the ‘holes in the sky’ that let them travel between worlds; they seek out the unconscious cracks in the armour of our everyday lives in order to create new products for new market segments that others have not yet seen or appreciated. The Trickster keeps on the lookout for opportunities, and will seek to create them if none occur naturally by disrupting the status quo.
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