Wednesday, March 03, 2004

FELIX THE FLYING FROG, a Parable About Modern Management
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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 said one day, hit by sudden inspiration, "We're going to be rich! I will teach you to fly!"

Felix, of course, was terrified at the prospect. "I can't fly, you twit! I'm a frog, not a canary!" Clarence, disappointed at the initial response, 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 course and learned about problem solving, time management, and effective communication-but nothing about flying. On the first day of the "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 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 to fly. Felix pleaded for his life, but his pleas fell on deaf ears. "He just doesn't understand how important this is," thought Clarence. "He can't see the big picture."

So, with that, Clarence opened the window and threw Felix out. He landed with a thud. The next day, poised for his second flying lesson, Felix again begged not to be thrown out of the window. Clarence opened his
pocket guide to "Managing More Effectively," and showed Felix the part about how one must always expect resistance when introducing new, innovative programs. 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 up the schedule, do you?"

From his training, Felix knew that not jumping today would only mean that he would have to jump TWICE tomorrow. So he just muttered, "OK, yee-haw, 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 legs madly in a vain attempt at flying. On the sixth day, he tied a small red cape around his neck and tried to think "Superman" thoughts. It didn't
help.

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 at the large jagged rock
by the corner of the building. And Felix went to that great lily pad in the sky.

Clarence was extremely upset, as his project had failed to meet a single objective that he had set out to accomplish. Felix had not only failed to fly, he hadn't even learned to steer his fall as he dropped like a
sack of cement, nor had he heeded Clarence's advice 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!"

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