Fables for Leaders includes 100+ short stories of talking animals and trees…. and my ruminations on each. I emphasize the philosophical and ethical aspects in these stories – from across the centuries - to my own on-the-job experiences, - successes and failures - and relate them to our contemporary behavior and decision-making. We relate to stories, we remember stories, and these fable stories may help in thinking through and solving, in untraditional ways, problems on the job.” Whimsical illustrations by international artist and paper cutter, Béatrice Coron, capture the charm of this ancient literature and add to its comprehension and enjoyment. Each entry -in 7 chapters- sets forth the original fable followed by Lubans’ commentary. And, many fable feature a “My Thoughts” space to explore how this fable relates to the reader. The seven chapter heads: “Us and them” “Office politics” “The Organization” “Problems” “Budgeting and strategic planning” “The effective follower” “The effective leader”. Topical sub-heads include: “Perspective makes a difference” “Where is the cooperation?” “Hiring decisions” “Performance appraisal” “Pretenders” “Kindness, loyalty and respect for the boss…or not” “Have you heard of the Tall Poppy?” “Gossip and envy” “Are you leading or am I following?” Etc.

Friday Fable. Abstemius’ “The Lion and His Battle Array”*

Posted by jlubans on October 20, 2017  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption: Illustration de Grandville (1870) Note the lizard on the lion’s helmet.

“The lion, king of the beasts, about to go to war with the birds, arranged his followers in a battle array.
When asked by the bear how the sluggishness of the donkey or the timidity of the rabbit could bring victory, when he saw them in the midst of the other soldiers, the lion answered:
‘The donkey will rouse the soldiers to fight with the blaring noise of his trumpet, while the rabbit will carry out the duties of a courier because of the swiftness of his feet.’
The fable shows that no one is so contemptible that he cannot benefit us in some way or other.”

_________________
Fables are impractical! Sugared pabulum for kids!
If you still think that after hearing the lion's wisdom on using existing resources, then here’s a bit more clarification from La Fontaine:
“A monarch provident and wise
Will hold his subjects all of consequence,
And know in each what talent lies.
There's nothing useless to a man of sense.”**
The “provident and wise” leader “know(s) in each (subject) what talent lies”.
The leader’s job (among several others) is to ascertain and then develop proactively that talent for the good of the organization.
How then to apply this to a traditional organization, one in which the leader inherits existing hires?
Some may appear not to be worth much. So, what to do? Weed or figure out new roles?
Weeding is easy. Far more difficult is thinking out how best to use the seemingly redundant or the passed over.

*Source: Abstemius, ca.1440-1508. Translated by Laura Gibbs.

** Source: THE FABLES OF LA FONTAINE Translated From The French by Elizur Wright. [original place and date: Boston, U.S.A., 1841.] A New Edition, with Notes by J. W. M. Gibbs,1882. Available at Gutenberg.

Fables for Leaders arrives just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas, a beautiful gift in appreciation of the best leader you know; even better for your worst leader – shove it under the door!
Or, get it for anyone learning what it means to lead or to follow.
Is there anyone I’ve left out?
And, of course, this book of fables – the underpinnings of the world’s literature - is a “natural” for every library, our cultural bastions.

Fables for Leaders, with original illustrations by Béatrice Coron and designed by ALISE ŠNĒBAHA, launched September 30, 2017 ($26.99).
Ezis Press
ISBN: 978-0-692-90955-3
LCCN: 2017908783
Amazon
BOOKBABY’s BOOKSHOP! The BookBaby listing features a “See Inside” the book.
BARNES & NOBLE!

© Copyright 2017 John Lubans

Not “Bound in Limp Purple Leather”

Posted by jlubans on October 17, 2017  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption: An out-take.

You can’t judge a book by its cover, they say, but in the case of “Fables for Leaders” you can; it gets better and better on the inside!
What brag, you might be thinking!
Not really, since my assessment is less about my writing and more about Sheryl Anspaugh’s editing of the manuscript into its seven management topics, Béatrice Coron’s captivating illustrations and Alise Šnēbaha’s creative design.
What I wanted, after publishing dozens and dozens of grey scholarly books and articles, was a beautiful book, an objet d'art. This blog’s Friday Fables* became a means to achieving that long-held desire.
What’s a beautiful book? No, it’s not the Wodehousian “slim volume of poetry bound in limp purple leather”.
Obviously, the book has to have solid content. Literary fabulists like La Fontaine, Aesop, Sir Roger L'Estrange, and Krylov provide that. My commentary - my musings about leadership in the workplace - builds on, embellishes and enlarges their meaning.
I could have done that without a single illustration and it would have looked just like any other of my books.
A friend from long ago told me he could tell by the “heft” of a book if it was any good. Perhaps an outrageous claim, especially from a distinguished scholar and bibliophile as my friend was, yet I knew exactly what he meant; the book in hand has to feel right.
A beautiful book is one that delights the eye and mind through illustration, typeface, quality of the paper and ink and color, with a cohesive, imaginative design that makes every page unique yet integrated from cover to cover.
Each page has to have freshness and purpose, as in the turning over of a new leaf.
Béatrice’s cat and mouse illustration - at the top - did not make the cut, at least not as a stand-alone illustration. I got a bit squeamish about this depiction of friendship lost. Cat and Mouse, the 75-word fable was already sad enough.
________________________
Fables for Leaders arrives just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas, a perfect gift in appreciation of the best leader you know; even better for your worst leader – shove it under the door.
Or, get it for anyone learning what it means to lead or to follow.
Is there anyone I’ve left out?
And, of course, this book of fables – the underpinnings of the world’s literature - is a “natural” for every library, those bastions of human culture.

Fables for Leaders, with original illustrations by Béatrice Coron and designed by ALISE ŠNĒBAHA, launched September 30, 2017 ($26.99).
Ezis Press
ISBN: 978-0-692-90955-3
LCCN: 2017908783
Amazon
BOOKBABY’s BOOKSHOP!
BARNES & NOBLE!

*The Friday Fable, a feature of this blog since 2010 is the source for the book. Each Friday I share a fable and make observations on how this little bit of literature applies to leadership, that composite of leader and follower.

© Copyright John Lubans 2017

Friday Fable. “THE HARE AND THE TORTOISE”*

Posted by jlubans on October 13, 2017  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption: In Need of No-Doz. (Illus. by Harrison Weir, 1871).

“A HARE one day made himself merry over the slow pace of the Tortoise, vainly boasting of his own great speed in running.
The Tortoise took the laughing and boasting in good part. ‘Let us try a race,’ she said; ‘I will run with you five miles for five dollars, and the Fox out yonder shall be the judge.”
The Hare agreed, a course was arranged, and away they started together. True to his boasting the Hare was out of sight in a moment.
The Tortoise never for a moment stopped, but jogged along with a slow, steady pace, straight to the end of the course. Full of sport, the Hare first outran the Tortoise, then fell behind. Having come midway to the goal, he began to nibble at the young herbage, and to amuse himself in many ways. After a while, the day being warm, he lay down for a nap, saying: ‘She is behind me now. If she should go by, I can easily enough catch up.’
When the Hare awoke, the Tortoise was not in sight; and running as fast as he could, he found her comfortably dozing at their their goal.

Those who are very quick are apt to be too sure. Slow and steady often wins the race”

_____________________
Probably among the two or three best known of Aesop’s fables, is there any more to be said beyond the obvious?
Of course. There’s always more with Aesop. All it takes is re-thinking the fable’s meaning. I’ll show you:
The turtle wins less for being slow and steady than for the hare’s over confidence (and considerable smuggery). IOW, the hare is his own worst enemy.
And, so it can be at work.
Studies have shown it is not always the loudest, the smartest, the fittest, or the strongest in a group that holds the key to a knotty problem. Time and again, I have seen the quietest group member, or someone of average intelligence, or the physically weakest member offer the best idea for solving a problem.
Often, it is the person with the highest EQ (emotional intelligence) that facilitates the best decision-making. That’s because of his or her capacity to work with others and to get others thinking.
A trickster or Team Turtle version of this fable has the turtle winning not because of the rabbit’s laziness, but because of turn taking by different turtles. No matter how hard the hare dashed, there was always turtle in front, a la Rosie Ruiz.**

*Source: J. H. Stickney. “Aesop's Fables / A Version for Young Readers.” Æsop’s Fables: A Version for Young Readers
Illustrated by Charles Livingston Bull
New York: Ginn and Company 1915
Available at Gutenberg e-books

**Rosie Ruiz won the 1980 Boston Marathon in record time. Shortly after she was exposed as having run only the last mile. Her secret to winning: “Don’t run the whole thing.”
Maybe Rosie read the alternate version of the turtle/hare fable, the one with the turn taking turtles.

Fables for Leaders, with original illustrations by Béatrice Coron and designed by ALISE ŠNĒBAHA, launched September 30, 2017 ($26.99).
Ezis Press
ISBN: 978-0-692-90955-3
LCCN: 2017908783
ORDER NOW at BOOKBABY’s BOOKSHOP!
BARNES & NOBLE!
Or, Amazon

© Copyright John Lubans 2017

Best Practice Meetings

Posted by jlubans on October 10, 2017  •  Leave comment (0)

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Drilling down, as they say, into an anthropological study of business meetings, I found a few takeaways, ones I could have used when I was chairing and taking part in the many meetings of my lengthy career.
Meetings would not score well on Yelp. Maybe a 1.5 out of 5. Almost as bad as long distance movers whose sins are the stuff of customer disservice legend.
Sure, there are those 10% of meetings that click; something gets done!
One professional association – of which I was a very busy member – could only meet in certain cities. Why? Not enough meeting rooms. While many cities had beds for 10,000 or more conventioneers, my association required thousands of meetings rooms.
Was this good? Well, if the meetings got anything done it could be very good. But, having sat through hundreds I can assure you little got done. I suppose people felt busy and that has some rewards in itself, but busy-ness is not always correlated with productivity. Indeed, it may work in reverse – the more busy, the less done.
Again, my 10% rule applied, when the stars aligned, things clicked and decisions were made; new ideas were born and supported. The other 90% were in dire need of the oxygen masks in the cartoon.
You know you are in trouble when there are groups charged with meeting about meetings, as there were in my association.
Here’s how-to-improve meetings from an anthropological perspective:
1. Hold accountable everyone at the meeting. What does this mean? Be prepared. Even in a “culture of collaboration” the individual cannot dodge the responsibility to be informed (IOW, read the background) and to have thought through matters relevant to the purpose of the meeting.
A sure sign of in-effectiveness is the desire to hear all sides of the problem. Quantity of information does not trump quality of information.
2. Empower the leader. Make known who will decide on meeting outcomes. Make clear that decisions are indeed expected – this is not a discussion group. Avoid situations where “guests” hijack the meeting and “force the team into a spiral of blackness.”
Other basic recommendations from the anthropologist’s analysis:
1. Ensure that all meeting invites include basic information. That’s so “that people have the tools they need to come prepared. If people are not prepared, ask them.”
2. “Invite participants, not spectators. And don't be afraid to ask people to leave if they weren't invited.”
3. “Create spaces that are conducive to meetings, this includes stand-up tables and clocks for meeting rooms. Not every meeting requires a giant table: giving smaller groups the flexibility to huddle can help move projects along.”
4. Schedule shorter meetings. “If a status (sic) can occur in 15 minutes, you really don't need 30 minutes just so folks can chat about The Walking Dead.”
5. “Call an audible when the meeting is over. Despite what we believe, we are terrible multitaskers.
When the meeting has completed its objectives, it's over. Send participants away.”
The anthropologist gives us much to think about and much to take action on.
No, there is no reason to meet on this!
___________________
Fables for Leaders, with original illustrations by Béatrice Coron and designed by ALISE ŠNĒBAHA, launched September 30, 2017 ($26.99).
Ezis Press
ISBN: 978-0-692-90955-3
LCCN: 2017908783
ORDER NOW at BOOKBABY’s BOOKSHOP!
BARNES & NOBLE!
Or, Amazon

© Copyright John Lubans 2017

Friday Fable. Faernus’ “THE MILLER, HIS SON AND THEIR ASS”*

Posted by jlubans on October 06, 2017  •  Leave comment (0)

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“A MILLER and his Son were driving their Ass to a neighbouring fair to sell him. They had not gone far when they met with a troop of girls returning from the town, talking and laughing.
“Look there!" cried one of them, "did you ever see such fools, to be trudging along the road on foot, when they might be riding!"
The old Man, hearing this, quietly bade his Son get on the Ass, and walked along merrily by the side of him. Presently they came up to a group of old men in earnest debate.
"There!" said one of them, "it proves what I was a-saying. What respect is shown to old age in these days? Do you see that idle young rogue riding, while his old father has to walk?—
Get down, you scapegrace! and let the old Man rest his weary limbs."
Upon this the Father made his Son dismount, and got up himself. In this manner they had not proceeded far when they met a company of women and children.
"Why, you lazy old fellow!" cried several tongues at once, "how can you ride upon the beast, while that poor little lad can hardly keep pace by the side of you.
The good-natured Miller stood corrected, and immediately took up his Son behind him. They had now almost reached the town. "Pray, honest friend," said a townsman, "is that Ass your own?"
"Yes," says the old Man. "0! One would not have thought so," said the other, "by the way you load him. Why, you two fellows are better able to carry the poor beast than he you!"
"Anything to please you," said the old Man; "we can but try." So, alighting with his Son, they tied the Ass's legs together, and by the help of a pole endeavoured to carry him on their shoulders over a bridge that led to the town. This was so entertaining a sight that the people ran out in crowds to laugh at it; till the Ass, not liking the noise nor his situation, kicked asunder the cords that bound him, and, tumbling off the pole, fell into the river.
Upon this the old Man, vexed and ashamed, made the best of his way home again—convinced that by endeavouring to please everybody he had pleased nobody, and lost his Ass into the bargain.”
________________
And so it can be in the office, when we find ourselves caught between factions and too willing to go along to get along.
A workmate of mine would agree to a mutual decision with me and then, encountering resistance he would backtrack.
This happened regularly and it led to an unhappy workplace relationship, and to a perceived weak leadership. “By endeavouring to please everybody he had pleased nobody.”
I suppose it came down to a lack of self-confidence on his part. Of course, as any workplace expert would advise, I should have had a frank talk with him; instead I avoided the unpleasantness and doing so make me complicit in this imbroglio.

*Source: Cooper, Frederic Taber, editor (1864-1937), “An argosy of fables; a representative selection from the fable literature of every age and land”. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company. 1921.
Faernus, an Italian poet, (Gabriele Faerno) was born in 1510 and died in 1561.

Fables for Leaders, with original illustrations by Béatrice Coron and designed by ALISE ŠNĒBAHA, launched September 30, 2017 ($26.99).
Ezis Press
ISBN: 978-0-692-90955-3
LCCN: 2017908783
ORDER NOW at BOOKBABY’s BOOKSHOP!
BARNES & NOBLE!
Or, Amazon

© Copyright John Lubans 2017

“Bossholes” and Other Dour Denizens

Posted by jlubans on October 03, 2017  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption: Homer’s Mr. Burns.

Jena McGregor’s “A field guide to jerks at work”
reminded me of the “No Dickheads”* rule enforced within New Zealand’s phenomenal All Blacks rugby team:
“If you are a jerk you won’t play for the All Blacks. A jerk would undercut the Maori concept of whānau or the “extended family” of the team. There's a Maori saying that sums up the meaning of the whānau for the individual in a team: ‘My strength does not come from my individuality, my strength comes from many.’…
‘The All Blacks select on character as well as talent, which means some of New Zealand's most promising players never pull on the black jersey …, their inclusion would be detrimental to the whanau.’”
Commenting on Robert Sutton’s new book, “The A--hole Survival Guide”, McGregor adds a few more categories to the jerk genus. There’s the:
The lone "bosshole"
The powerful bully
The clueless jerk
The petty tyrant, and to balance things out,
The overbearing client.
There’s a magnetic quality to the word “jerk”. We all know one or more. Indeed, we may catch a glimpse of one each morning in the bathroom mirror!
If you take umbrage at that, listen to Sutton’s mantra: be “slow to label other people as a--holes and fast to label yourself one.” Some of us may well be clueless when it comes to our own jerkitude quotient (JQ).
While I have to agree that talking about jerks is more fun than talking about hair products, the discussion weakens – as it always does with intractable problems - when we get into the “What can I do about it?” part. McGregor mentions several options:
Placate?
Go to HR?
Turn the other cheek?
Quit?
Partner with positive “stars”?
Hide?
Get even?
Have a “heart-to-heart” with the jerk?
Make yourself indispensable to the jerk?
I’ve worked for and with jerks. (And, sometimes I’ve been the jerk. Fortunately, I had co-workers and subordinates who were unafraid to confront jerkiness!)
On the other hand, when I was being jerked around I probably went through all of the listed options.
Frankly, when a toxic jerk boss – the ultimate bosshole - has it in for you, the best strategy is to leave, the sooner the better.
“But I don’t want to leave,” you wail.
Well, the worm might turn but what if it does not?
As for karma kicking in, I’m still waiting.

*Oxford Dictionaries’ definition of dickhead, noun, vulgar slang: “A stupid, irritating, or ridiculous person, particularly a man.” In other words, a jerk.
_______________
Praise for Fables for Leaders from Laura Gibbs writing in her Bestiara Latina Blog:
“I have a fun announcement today! It's a beautifully illustrated Aesop book with fables and thoughts from John Lubans, plus gorgeous illustrations by Beatrice Coron: Fables for Leaders”.
Laura is the author of Aesop's Fables, one of the books in the renowned Oxford World's Classics
Her Aesop was the first I bought and consulted when I began the Friday Fables series in 2010. I use her book often and recommend it highly as a splendid and erudite collection of fables and classical commentary.
Fables for Leaders, with original illustrations by Béatrice Coron and designed by ALISE ŠNĒBAHA, launched September 30, 2017 ($26.99).
Ezis Press
ISBN: 978-0-692-90955-3
LCCN: 2017908783
ORDER NOW at BOOKBABY’s BOOKSHOP!
BARNES & NOBLE!
Or, Amazon

© Copyright John Lubans 2017

Friday Fable. Krylov’s “THE KITE”

Posted by jlubans on September 29, 2017  •  Leave comment (0)

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“A KITE, which had been allowed to soar to the clouds, called out from on high to a Butterfly down below in the valley,
‘I can assure you that I can scarcely make you out. Confess now that you feel envious when you watch my so lofty flight.’
‘Envious? No, indeed! You have no business to think so much of yourself. You fly high, it is true; but you are always tied by a string. Such a life, my friend, is very far removed from happiness. But I, though in truth but little exalted, fly wherever I wish. I should not like all my life long to have to conduce to some one else's foolish amusement.’"
-----------------------
So, like when I asked “Why fables?
this little story “conduces” me - and maybe you - to thinking about freedom at work, letting go, setting limits, clarifying responsibility and expectation.
Are you a supercilious Kite on a string? Or are you a self-managing Butterfly? Do you set your own schedule or does someone set it for you?
Do you have choice at work or are you on a treadmill? Do you think for yourself or do you participate, unconsciously perhaps, in “group think”?
When I “let go” – as I famously did some time ago - a few of my former “direct reports” thrived; they saw the opportunity to spread their wings and did so, flying alongside of me.
A few saw a different opportunity, one to undermine our reform initiatives. And some felt uncomfortable without the “string” of supervision – they preferred more guidance and were uncertain as to my and their respective roles. I have to admit to some confusion on my own part.
I learned from that, realizing that while some thrived in the Butterfly mode; others needed clarity and guidance before they could be weaned of dependence. What about the alienated? They could not be trusted so the only way to counter their sabotage would be with the positive results from our change efforts.
If I had to do it over again, I would have only freed up those staff who were capable of freedom – of being Butterflies – and ramp up supervision of those who either found freedom not to their liking or who sought to de-rail necessary reforms.

*Source: Krilof and his fables, by Krylov, Ivan Andreevich, 1768-1844; Ralston, William Ralston Shedden, 1828-1889. Tr. London, 1869

Fables for Leaders, with original illustrations by Béatrice Coron and designed by ALISE ŠNĒBAHA, is now available ($26.99).
Ezis Press
ISBN: 978-0-692-90955-3
LCCN: 2017908783

ORDER NOW at BOOKBABY’s BOOKSHOP!
BARNES & NOBLE!
Or, Amazon

© Copyright John Lubans 2017

The book, Fables for Leaders, is Published.

Posted by jlubans on September 22, 2017  •  Leave comment (2)

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Caption: Author JOHN LUBANS and Editor SHERYL ANSPAUGH with pre-print copy of Fables for Leaders in Riga, Latvia, July 2017 (Photo by Baiba Holma).

My new book, Fables for Leaders, with original illustrations by Béatrice Coron and designed by ALISE ŠNĒBAHA, is now available on pre-order ($26.99).
Ezis Press
ISBN: 978-0-692-90955-3
LCCN: 2017908783

ORDER NOW at BOOKBABY’s BOOKSHOP!
A DEAL AT BARNES & NOBLE!
Or, pre-order at Amazon
Why Fables?

Stories are part of our human-ness. So, why not take the essential story – a fable – and apply it to the workplace and draw from it what wisdom we can. My un-textbook covers a variety of topics relevant to leadership, teams, followership and is based on my many years in higher ed administration, not to mention my interest in using literature in teaching concepts about the democratic workplace.
What others say:

Arthur P. Young:
Observer as well as participant, Lubans’ insights and sense of humor are on every page of this creatively illustrated and entertaining volume. An exceptional librarian and protean teacher, he incorporates examples from his experience to contextualize the lessons. It’s about every place where people work together!
Jerry D. Campbell:
Fables are designed to deliver a timeless truth or life-lesson in a compact, pithy, and brief way—tailor made for busy people. For those in a hurry a page in this book delivers a discrete and powerful message. Lubans’ commentary is equally concise and insightful. Space is provided for your own reflections. Highly recommended.
Kate Wittenberg:
A fresh and welcome approach to improving business leadership. Lubans’ fables and commentary are immediately useful takeaways: clearheaded with perspective. Lovely design, convenient space for personal notes.
LaVerne Thornton:
John Lubans’ book provokes us to think of the many moral issues we face. Keep it as a reference. It’s a useful guide for considering the morality involved in so many aspects of life.
Alvin L. Crumbliss:
Original and innovative fables, both ancient and new, replace the traditional management case studies. On multiple levels, fables are effective and applicable to numerous situations. Combined with delightful illustrations, these fables are, in contrast to case studies, often amusing and pithy.

© Copyright John Lubans 2017

Friday Fable. Odo of Cheriton ‘s “THE ABBOT AND THE FLEA”

Posted by jlubans on September 15, 2017  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption: Illustration by Arthur Rackham, 1912.

“AN Abbot, having caught a Flea, said to him, ‘At last I have caught you. Many a time have you bitten me; now that I have you I will never let you go, but shall put you to death.’
‘Holy Father,’ said the Flea, ‘since you are going to kill me, place me in the palm of your hand, so that I may freely confess my sins to you.’
The Abbot, moved by pious pity, placed the Flea in the middle of his palm.
The Flea at once made a great jump, and by his jump, escaped. The Abbot called loudly to him to return and confess his sins, but the Flea would not return.
There are many people who finding themselves in a tight place, promise much, but when set at liberty fail to keep their promises.”

_________________
In Aesop’s version (depicted), the flea bites the dust.
Odo’s flea survives, playing on the Abbott’s “pious pity”. While Odo often panned his clergy betters for their egregious sins, his epimythium is less about lambasting the clergy than it is about those who make promises – to get something – and having gotten what they want, reneg on their promises.
I was a partner in a research project that went belly up. Why? My partner was active and wholly committed, until he gained tenure, his personal “tight spot”. Once there, his interest waned into nothingness.
How do we avoid resting on our laurels after reaching a desired life position? Do we plateau or do we continue to strive, finding in each day something to do better, something new to explore?

*Source: Cooper, Frederic Taber, editor (1864-1937), “An argosy of fables; a representative selection from the fable literature of every age and land”. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company. 1921.

N.B. My next book,
Fables for Leaders, Ezis Press, can be pre-ordered now ($26.99) with original illustrations by Béatrice Coron.
ISBN: 978-0-692-90955-3
LCCN: 2017908783


© Copyright John Lubans 2017

Friday Fable (delivered on Sunday) Phaedrus’ “THE FAMISHED BEAR”

Posted by jlubans on September 10, 2017  •  Leave comment (0)

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Caption: What’s for lunch?

“ONE autumn, when the crop of woodland berries had begun to fail, a hungry Bear made his way down to the rocky seashore, and seizing a big stone between his hairy limbs slowly lowered himself into the water. Before long a number of crabs had laid fast hold upon the thick fur of his hide, whereupon the Bear climbed back upon dry land, shook off the haul of sea-food he had netted, and settled down to enjoy their tender meat at his leisure.
Even the dullest brains are sharpened by hunger.”
___________________
In my on-the-job experience, I came to find that scarcity, like the bear’s hunger, could lead to innovation. But that could only happen when leaders challenged and gave permission to staff to respond in creative ways. Those circumstances brought out the best and the worst in staff. The latter stonewalled and refused to re-think what we were doing. There was only one answer to scarcity: more resources. Unlike the inventive bear, they'd as soon go "hungry".
The former seized on the opportunity to engage and to innovate.
The leader’s role was first to ask for help – thereby giving permission to staff to think! - in solving a problem. Secondly, to demonstrate by word and deed that failure in a good effort was not going to be punished.
And, I found that my questioning the status quo promoted innovation:
Why do we do this?
What do we want/need to do?
What can we do without?
Our allegedly simple minded bear eschews a Rube Goldberg complex solution with pulleys, chutes, ropes, buckets, and wheels. (Believe me, some in the workplace really do believe complex is best.)
Instead, Brother Bear finds a clever way to lower himself into the water and come up with lunch.

*Source: Cooper, Frederic Taber, editor (1864-1937), “An argosy of fables; a representative selection from the fable literature of every age and land”. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company. 1921.

N.B. My next book,
Fables for Leaders, Ezis Press, debuts at end of September 2017 ($26.99) with original illustrations by Béatrice Coron.
ISBN: 978-0-692-90955-3
LCCN: 2017908783

© Copyright John Lubans 2017