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

Posted by jlubans on September 10, 2017

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
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