I have finally placed my finger on the analogy for a background-setting or stage on which New Zealand’s SME owners (including franchisees and franchisors) have had to act on over the past 2-3 years.
It is Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot.
If you are not familiar with the work, two weary characters, Vladimir and Estragon find themselves aimlessly awaiting the arrival of Godot.
As they await a never-ending variety of misfortunes and misadventures become characters, unbelievable characters pop up and absurd time wasting and pointless conversations, exchanges and exercises take place.
If we expand the analogy, the part of Godot has been played by the Labour Government.
We’ve been told and promised that things will get better, that Godot is on the way. In the meantime, nothing sensible happens.
In the play, in spite of continual hoping that he shall arrive, and their situation will improve, Godot never arrives. The central theme is promised salvation, to be delivered by Godot.
For business in New Zealand the waiting has meant enduring misfortunes including Covid-19, interest rate hikes, recession, labour and supply challenges, climatic disasters and of course the central and continuing theme: a government and political setting unsympathetic to business.
In one particularly pointless scene of Waiting for Godot, the two main characters play a version of the shell game with three identical hats, each asking the others each time they are passed, “which one looks better on me?”
I couldn’t help but think watching this recently that it looked very much like a Hipkin’s government ministerial appointment process.
Waiting for Godot is often described as a play in two parts, in which nothing happens, twice.
It’s uncanny that we’re witnessing the second act, in a further twist of similarities: we have had a new Prime Minister and government claiming to be different to the former, when of course they are one and the same.
But, they ask us to continue to Wait for Godot, that after six years, they have the policies and ability to change; they say, “Mr Godot has told me to tell you he won’t be coming today, he’ll be here tomorrow”, so vote for us, again.
But unlike the play and it’s characters, whom don’t know if they are happy or not, New Zealand now understands the play and situation in which they have been thrust and are looking to write the next act differently.
No more Waiting for Godot. That we can (impatiently) wait and look forward to.