Calexis

Parables of Gary

January 27, 2010

My old friend Gary used to tell little parables in business situations to help resolve situations.  Here are some and some more:

Consider the Two Kinds of People

It is often said that there are two kinds of people in the world.

James Thurber, for example, said there are two kinds of people in the world, those that divide people into two groups and the others.

I like saying there are three kinds of people in the world.  Those who can count and those who can’t.

Consider the Purchase of Bread

You can tell everything about a person by the way they buy bread.  Nearly everyone has some older bread at home when they buy new bread.

When you buy the new bread, do you immediately eat the new loaf – or do you finish the old loaf first.  That’s the difference between the grasshoppers and the ants.

The grasshoppers eat the new bread because it is fresh and delicious – at the maximum level of flavour and taste.  They want to enjoy it at its best.

The ants are more concerned with the availability of the bread than the flavour and they will finish the older bread first.  They are willing to give up a little to get more.

Consider the Kind of People You Work With

It is at the entry of an old medieval town.  There is a blind beggar sitting there as people go about their business.  A man enters through the gate and walks up to the beggar.

“Hello.  Can you help me?  I am moving to this town.  What kind of people live here?” he asks.

“Let me answer your question with a question.  What are the people like in your town?” says the beggar.

“Well,” says the man, “that’s the problem.  The people are all very nice, trustworthy and helpful.  They are pleasant and courteous and always willing to lend a hand.  We are going to miss them.”

“Ahh,” says the beggar, “I have some good news for you.  You will find the people in this town are very much the same.

The next day, at the same place the same beggar sits.  A man enters through the gate and walks up to the beggar.

“Hello.  Can you help me?  II am moving to this town.  What kind of people live here?” he asks.

“Let me answer your question with a question.  What are the people like in your town?” says the beggar.

“Well,” says the man, “I am going to be happy to be rid of them.  Those people are never very nice or helpful.  They never have a good word to say and are always looking for favours.  You can’t trust any of them.”

“Ahh,” says the beggar, “then I have some very bad news for you.”

Consider Eating Bacon and Eggs

When you eat bacon and eggs for breakfast, the chicken is involved.  And, it can walk away afterwards.

The pig on the other hand is committed. It has no remaining options.

It is like that with many projects, people are either involved or committed.

The whole game in business is to turn your people into pigs.  Get them committed to a project or idea.

If they are only chickens, they can walk away at any time and leave you in the lurch.

Consider the Reasons to Support Your Argument

Another visit to the old walled town.  The Bishop arrives by train one morning for his first visit to the town.  He is greeted by the local Priest and the Mayor who express gratitude for the visit.

The Bishop is taken to the town square where all the townspeople are.  Speeches are made and the children, all up, put on a historical pageant.

The Bishop is then taken to the town hall where there is a fine and ample lunch prepared by the people of the town.

Following the lunch there is a full church service for the Bishop where all the citizens show up in their finery.  The service is followed by a banquet and a concert with singers and dancers from the town.

As the local Priest takes the Bishop back to train for his return to his home, he asks the Bishop how he enjoyed his day.

The Bishop is effusive in his compliments for the food, service, pageantry and everything.  “But,” he says, “I have one question. Usually when I visit a town for the first time, they ring the bells in the church.  Why didn’t you do so?”

“I knew you would ask that,” said the local Priest unfurling a long sheet of numbered responses.  “I have a list of 37 reasons why we did not.”  And he rapidly begins to rattle them off:  “First, we have no bells.  Second, we were unsure of the most appropriate tune.  Third, we were….”

“Wait!” said the Bishop.  “What did you say the first reason was?”

“We… have no bells.” stuttered the local Priest.

“That’s good enough.” replied the Bishop.  “One good reason is worth more than the other 36.”

(One good answer can win the “No Bell” Prize).

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