Breathe in, breathe out.
A full cup of coffee sat growing cold. A cherry Danish, untouched.
Don’t over think it. You’ve practiced. This is a good idea. You’re confident. You know what you’re doing.
The internal pep talk went on until rehearsed words gave way to a (still rehearsed) conversational tone and then a conclusion, a pause for a response. Responses came in the form of a few smiles and more looks of confusion than he’d hoped for (but not more than he expected).
“Mr. Collins, I can see you’ve put a lot of thought and work into this. We’ve never done anything like this before, though, so please bear with me as I try to understand.”
Mr. Collins smiled (a little nervously).
“You’re proposing we take our product, a product that we’re quite proud of, have received great feedback on, tastes great, and we even eat ourselves and change the ingredients and the source of those ingredients in order to create a greater profit margin?”
“Yes, sir. Right now, every other major chocolate company is quite similar to ours. If we can cut down on the cost of ingredients and production and still provide a cheaper product to the general public, I think sales will skyrocket and our company will benefit financially.”
“Could you please run down the ingredient changes one more time?”
Mr. Collins did. Add more sugar and fillers. Swap minimally processed ingredients for the cheapest forms available. Forget about organic.
His boss flashed him a smile. Of course Alex Graham wanted to make more money. Who doesn’t? Who wouldn’t be on board with that plan? Still, he wasn’t sold.
“Mr. Collins, these are great business ideas…but where would you get the ingredients? Why hasn’t any other business come up with the same idea?”
Mr. Collins hesitated, just a little bit, hoping his boss didn’t sense nerves working overtime. He’d anticipated the question, and he was ready, but his proposal hinged on Alex Graham’s response.
“Well, sir, some of them will be made commercially in a lab…and some of them can be produced in large fields with plenty of pesticides to prevent losing too many crops.”
“We have close relationships with our growers and producers,” Mr. Graham returned. “Who would be harvesting the proposed new crops? How would they do it with crops covered in pesticides? Would we be able to make regular visits to them like we do with our growers now?”
Mr. Collins swallowed hard.
“We will pay someone else to produce the crops and find growers. Part of cutting costs, sir, means no more visits. No knowing our growers and producers, examining their crops up close, or hearing their stories.”
“Mr. Collins, I need you to be straightforward with me.”
A little silence, a breath in, a breath out.
“People will be hurt, sir, due to working so closely with the chemicals. They will be recruited from poor villages in countries we don’t have to see. Some of them will be children, and no one will get paid a lot. It’s ok, though, sir. We don’t have to deal with those details because we don’t have to see them and because they’re already poor.”
The Parable of a Businessman takes place in a world where every chocolate company compensates every one involved fairly. What practices and ingredients would have to be taken away or added to create the typical chocolate companies we know today?