Friday Fable. Aesop's “The Lion, the Fox, and the Ass”*

Posted by jlubans on April 25, 2014

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Caption: Fox, yessing Lion.
“THE LION, the Fox and the Ass entered into an agreement to assist each other in the chase. Having secured a large booty, the Lion on their return from the forest asked the Ass to allot his due portion to each of the three partners in the treaty. The Ass carefully divided the spoil into three equal shares and modestly requested the two others to make the first choice. The Lion, bursting out into a great rage, devoured the Ass. Then he requested the Fox to do him the favor to make a division. The Fox accumulated all that they had killed into one large heap and left to himself the smallest possible morsel. The Lion said, 'Who has taught you, my very excellent fellow, the art of division? You are perfect to a fraction.' He replied, 'I learned it from the Ass, by witnessing his fate.'”
“Happy is the man who learns from the misfortunes of others.”

The vegetarian ass is in the wrong place at the wrong time.
You may be wondering, what does this have to do with the work place? Like the fox, we observe what occurs to others. If someone speaks the truth to the boss, what happens? If the leader reacts harshly – like scapegoating the questioner – then those observing know they’re at risk, too. How many organizations lose healthy and constructive debate because of a fear among participants of negative reaction. How often does the seemingly unified view carry and result in poor decisions? There’s evidence that when like minded people agree to do something, they are likely to go with the extreme view, the worst possible decision; hence the need for a diverse perspectives. The only way to get that is through a clement organizational climate, one that encourages constructive dissent. That’s the only way, as honeybee researcher Tom Seeley puts it, to “aggregate the group’s knowledge through debate.” He’s been able to put his observations about bee behavior to good use as a department chair at Cornell.

*Source: AESOP'S FABLES By Aesop Translated by George Fyler Townsend (probably from this edition): “Three hundred and fifty Aesop's fables”. Chicago, Belford, Clarke & Co., 1886.
Available at Gutenberg.

@Copyright John Lubans 2014

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