As you may already know, I am not a prolific blogger. Nevertheless, I came across an interesting adapted fable, reputedly Portuguese, by one PR Obrigado Mario that prompted me to post on my organization's e-mail. The responses that came back indicated that there was some degree of transferability. People could relate to the fable. For example, one said "Interesting, very familiar. Seems like a lived experience". Another remarked, “Sounds like an innuendo. There are some truths in it, perhaps”.
Apart from the translatability, one person inquired, "So who are the ants in our organization"? Now this question set me thinking. Are there really ants in an organization? More often than not, perhaps people in organizations are more like the cockroaches and cicadas in the fable. For that matter, does the lion really exist?
Now let’s see what you think about the fable.
Everyday a small ant arrives at work very early and starts work immediately. The ant produces a lot and it was happy. The Chief, a lion was surprised to see that the ant was working without a supervisor. Wouldn’t the ant produce even more if it had a supervisor?
So the lion recruited a cockroach who had extensive experience as a supervisor and who was well known for writing excellent reports. The cockroach’s first decision was to set up a clocking-in attendance system. The cockroach also needed a secretary to type up its reports and thus recruited a spider, who managed the archives and monitored all phone calls.
The lion was delighted with the cockroach’s reports and asked the cockroach to produce graphs to describe production rates and to analyze trends, so that the lion can use them for presentations at the Board’s meetings. So the cockroach had to buy a computer and a laser printer, and recruited a fly to manage the IT department.
The ant who had once been so productive and relaxed, hated the new plethora of paper work and meetings which used up most of the ant’s time. Then, the lion came to a conclusion it was high time to nominate a person in charge of the department where the ant worked. The position was given to a cicada, whose first decision was to buy a carpet and an ergonomic chair for its office.
The new person in charge, the cicada, also needed a computer and a personal assistant who it brought from its previous department, to help prepare a Work and Budget Control Strategic Optimism Plan. The department where the ant worked is now a sad place, where nobody laughs anymore and everybody has become upset. It was that time that the cicada convinced the boss, the lion, of the absolute necessity to start a climatic study of the environment.
Having reviewed the costs of running the department, the lion found out that the production was much less than before. So the lion recruited the owl, a prestigious and renowned consultant to carry out an audit and suggest solutions. The owl spent three months in the department and came up with an enormous report in several volumes, that concluded “The department is overstaffed”.
Guess who the lion fires first? The ant of course, “because it showed lack of motivation and had a negative attitude”.