The Belmont Club brings us yet another post on the tiger escape at the San Francisco Zoo:
Organizations and even whole societies are full of undiscussable subjects. They even go out of their way to create these "open secrets". When Mark Steyn is threatened by the Canadian Human Rights establishment for expressing his views on radical Islam it eventually has the result of creating another verboten subject.
Not just the Canadian Human Rights people, but a whole spectrum of organizations throughout the world, create taboos which eventually stifle the internal cognitive processes within them. And those taboos are so entrenched it often requires a crisis -- an impending bankruptcy, a corporate takeover, or a revolution -- to overturn them. Management consultants are paid large amounts of money to initiate "communications processes" through which the unacknowledged problems of a failing organization can once again re-enter the realm of "actionable knowledge".
The San Francisco zoo story provides an example of something all too common within organizations: the emergence of the open secret. If Carey Baldwin is to be believed, the keepers of the SF Zoo have known for nearly sixty years that the tigers kept within their enclosures only out of their own free will. The wall and moat were shams to preserve the illusion that the big cats were enclosed. In reality, the public's safety was dependent on the behavior of the "good kitties". Given their only recently marred record, the tigers have really exceeded our low expectations of their behavior.