Saturday, August 20, 2011

Alex the Flying Frog

Once upon a time in a tiny town, there lived a family with a pet frog named Alex. The family lived a modest comfortable existence on what they earned working at the Wal-Mart but always dreamed of being rich. "Alex!". They exclaimed one day, "We're going to be rich! We're going to teach you how to fly!" Alex, of course, was terrified at the prospect: "I can't fly, you idiots....I'm a frog, not a canary!" The family, disappointed at the initial reaction, told Alex: "That negative attitude of yours could be a real problem. We're sending you to special classes”. So Alex went to a three day seminar and learned about problem solving, time management, and effective communication...but nothing about flying.

On the first day of "flying lessons", the family could barely control their excitement (and Alex could barely control her bladder). The family explained that their apartment building had 15 floors, and each day Alex would jump out of a window, starting with the first floor and eventually getting to the top floor. After each jump, Alex would analyze how well she flew, isolate on the most effective flying techniques, and implement the improved process for the next flight. By the time they reached the top floor, Alex would surely be able to fly. And, of course, the family would be rich, proud and fulfilled. Alex understood that the fate of the entire family depended on her success.

She pleaded for her life, but it fell on deaf ears. "She just doesn't understand how important this is..." thought the family, "but we won't let nay-sayers get in the way."

So, with that, the family opened the window and threw Alex out (who landed with a thud).

Alex tried many different techniques for dissuading the family and became very proficient at manipulating, cajoling, using humor and persuading but to no avail (she had read somewhere that the light bulb had to want to change?). The family continued and Alex tried her best. But try as she might, she couldn't fly.

By the seventh day, Alex (accepting her fate) no longer begged for mercy...she simply looked at the family and said: "You know you're killing me, don't you?"

The family pointed out that Alex's performance so far had been less than exemplary, failing to meet any of the milestone goals they had set for her. With that, Alex, said quietly: "Shut up and open the window," and she leaped but, taking careful aim on the large jagged rock by the corner of the building. And Alex went to that great lily in the sky.

The family was extremely upset, as their project had failed to meet the single goal they set out to accomplish. Alex had not only failed to learn to fly, she hadn't even learned to steer nor had her productivity improved when told to "Fall smarter, not harder".

The only thing left for the family to do was to analyze the process and try to determine where they had gone wrong. After much thought, the family smiled and said: "Next time.... we're gonna get a smarter frog!" Tiny-town is incapable of change or insight – only expectations for others to make them feel OK.

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