FWD:A Parable for Our Times
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 96 02:06:18 -0800
From: Peter Langston <psl>
Subject: FWD:A Parable for Our Times
[This has all the earmarks of a funny article, but I passed it over when I
first saw it because, as Daniel points out, if you've ever been part of a big,
modern, overmanaged company, (or even a small, friendly non-profit that has
big, modern, overmanaged ideas) it's a little too close to home to seem very
Forwarded-by: Daniel Steinberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A Parable for Our Times
Once upon a time, there lived a man named Clarence who had a pet frog named
Felix. Clarence lived a modestly comfortable existence on what he earned
working at the Wal-Mart, but he always dreamed of being rich.
"Felix!" he exclaimed one day, "We're going to be rich! I'm going to teach
you how to fly!"
Felix, of course, was terrified at the prospect: "I can't fly, you idiot
...... I'm a frog, not a canary!"
Clarence, disappointed at the initial reaction, told Felix: "That negative
attitude of yours could be a real problem. I'm sending you to class."
So Felix went to a three day class and learned about problem solving, time
management, and effective communication.... but nothing about flying.
On the first day of "flying lessons", Clarence could barely control his
excitement (and Felix could barely control his bladder). Clarence explained
that their apartment building had 15 floors, and each day Felix would jump
out of a window, starting with the first floor and eventually getting to
the top floor.
After each jump, Felix would analyze how well he flew, isolate on the most
effective flying techniques, and implement the improved process for the next
flight. By the time they reached the top floor, Felix would surely be able
Felix pleaded for his life, but it fell on deaf ears. "He just doesn't
understand how important this is..." thought Clarence, "but I won't let
nay-sayers get in my way."
So, with that, Clarence opened the window and threw Felix out (who landed
with a thud).
Next day (poised for his second flying lesson) Felix again begged not to be
thrown out of the window. With that, Clarence opened his pocket guide to
Managing More Effectively and showed Felix the part about how one must
always expect resistance when implementing new programs.
And with that, he threw Felix out the window.(THUD)
On the third day (at the third floor) Felix tried a different ploy:
stalling, he asked for a delay in the "project" until better weather would
make flying conditions more favorable.
But Clarence was ready for him: he produced a timeline and pointed to the
third milestone and asked, "You don't want to slip the schedule do you?"
From his training, Felix knew that not jumping today would mean that he
would have to jump TWICE tomorrow.... so he just said: "OK. Let's go."
And out the window he went.
Now this is not to say that Felix wasn't trying his best. On the fifth day
he flapped his feet madly in a vain attempt to fly. On the sixth day he
tied a small red cape around his neck and tried to think "Superman" thoughts.
But try as he might, he couldn't fly.
By the seventh day, Felix (accepting his fate) no longer begged for
mercy.... he simply looked at Clarence and said: "You know you're killing
me, don't you?"
Clarence pointed out that Felix's performance so far had been less than
exemplary, failing to meet any of the milestone goals he had set for him.
With that, Felix said quietly: "Shut up and open the window," and he leaped
out, taking careful aim on the large jagged rock by the corner of the
And Felix went to that great lily pad in the sky.
Clarence was extremely upset, as his project had failed to meet a single
goal that he set out to accomplish. Felix had not only failed to fly, he
didn't even learn how to steer his flight as he fell like a sack of
cement.... nor did he improve his productivity when Clarence had told him
to "Fall smarter, not harder."
The only thing left for Clarence to do was to analyze the process and try
to determine where it had gone wrong.
After much thought, Clarence smiled and said:
"Next time...... I'm getting a smarter frog!"
© 1996 Peter Langston