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Felix The Flying Frog

A Parable About Modern Management

Author unknown

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 time line 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, yeeha, 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.

Felix went to that great lily pad in the sky.

Clarence was extremely upset, as his project had 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!"

So Clarence set out to do this. He advertised in the local newspapers and found hundreds of frogs for the void left by Felix. (Because he had wisely left out the exact job requirement from the advertisement). He selected the ten with the highest fgpa (frog grade point average) and formed a team to accomplish what he had failed to do with Felix.

This team went through the same three day course as Felix and were full of enthusiasm and positive attitude. Feeling that this might be the right time, Clarence told his team what exactly was required of them. It didnt take long for the positive attitude to be replaced by cynicism. However the most outspoken frog of the lot, Peter, (one who had already been marked by Clarence as having distinct upper management qualities) refused to let the apparent difficulty of the task deter him. He quickly formed a sub-committee of five frogs to plan the project and himself started effort estimation. And he also chose Dave and Sam, both of whom he didnt like very much, to be the first to learn to fly.

Needless to say, Dave and Sam didnt live very long. The flying lessons continued with the frogs joining Felix one by one. When only Peter was left, he tendered his resignation to Clarence, stating low employee commitment as his reason for dissatisfaction with the project and joined another company where he was put in charge of training frogs to fly a Mig-21.

Clarence's company, 'Flighty Solutions', was now finding it difficult to convince its customers that their frogs could fly. The marketing team was told to prepare some aggressive marketing strategies to boost the sagging image of the company. A week later they had a meeting with the top level managers in which they outlined their ideas for an advertising campaign.

Concluding a snazzy Powerpoint presentation, the marketing team said "The frogs were in the air from the time they went out of the window to the time they hit the ground. Technically, therefore, they were flying. From our test records, we found that two frogs flew for 5 seconds, three for 7 seconds, and 4 for 8 seconds, which gives us an average of seven seconds flying time per frog. Our new marketing slogan will be 'Fly for seven seconds with Flighty' "

The managers were duly impressed and Clarence set out to recruit a new team.

 


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Thomas Bätzler, Thomas@Baetzler.de
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