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Good old lessons in teamwork from an age-old fable The Tortoise And The Hare
Once upon a time a tortoise and ahare had an argument about whowas faster. That’s not true. The fastest runner is me! I’m the fastest runner.
They decided to settlethe argument with a race.They agreed on a routeand started off the race.Fine! Ok, let’s have a race.
The hare shot ahead and ran briskly forsome time. Then seeing that he was farahead of the tortoise, he thought hed situnder a tree for some time and relaxbefore continuing the race. Poor guy! Even if I take a nap, he could not catch up with me.
The hare was disappointedat losing the race and he Why diddid some soul-searching. I loseHe realized that hed lost the race?the race only because hehad been overconfident,careless and lax. If he hadnot taken things for granted,theres no way the tortoisecould have beaten him.
So he challenged thetortoise to another race.The tortoise agreed. Ok. Can we have another race?
This time, the hare went allout and ran without stoppingfrom start to finish. He wonby several miles.
The moral of the story?Fast and consistent will always beat the slow andsteady. If you have two people in your organization,one slow, methodical and reliable, and the other fastand still reliable at what he does, the fast and reliablechap will consistently climb the organizational ladderfaster than the slow, methodical chap.Its good to be slow and steady; but its better to befast and reliable.
The tortoise did some thinkingthis time, and realized that theresno way he can beat the hare in arace the way it was currentlyformatted. How can I can win the hare?
He thought for a while,and then challengedthe hare to another race,but on a slightly Can we have another race?different route. This time we’ll goThe hare agreed. through a different route. Sure!
They started off. In keeping withhis self-made commitment to beconsistently fast, the hare took offand ran at top speed until he cameto a broad river. The finishingline was a couple of kilometers Goalon the other side of the river.
The hare sat there wondering whatto do. In the meantime the tortoisetrundled along, got into the river,swam to the opposite bank,continued walking and finished therace. What should I do?
The moral of the story?First identify your core competency and then change theplaying field to suit your core competency.In an organization, if you are a good speaker, make sure youcreate opportunities to give presentations that enable the seniormanagement to notice you.If your strength is analysis, make sure you do some sort ofresearch, make a report and send it upstairs.Working to your strengths will not only get you noticed, but willalso create opportunities for growth and advancement.
The hare and the tortoise, bythis time, had become prettygood friends and they did somethinking together. Both realizedthat the last race could havebeen run much better.
So they decided to do thelast race again, but to runas a team this time. Great! I think we could do it much better, if we two help each other. Hi, buddy. How about doing our last race again?
They started off, and this time thehare carried the tortoise till theriverbank.
There, the tortoise took over andswam across with the hare on hisback.
On the opposite bank, the hareagain carried the tortoise and theyreached the finishing line together.They both felt a greater sense ofsatisfaction than theyd felt earlier.
The moral of the story?Its good to be individually brilliant and to havestrong core competencies; but unless youre able towork in a team and harness each others corecompetencies, youll always perform below parbecause there will always be situations at whichyoull do poorly and someone else does well.Teamwork is mainly about situational leadership,letting the person with the relevant core competencyfor a situation take leadership.
There are more lessons to be learnt from this story.Note that neither the hare nor the tortoise gave up after failures.The hare decided to work harder and put in more effort after hisfailure. The tortoise changed his strategy because he was alreadyworking as hard as he could.In life, when faced with failure, sometimes it is appropriate towork harder and put in more effort. Sometimes it is appropriateto change strategy and try something different. And sometimes itis appropriate to do both.The hare and the tortoise also learnt another vital lesson. Whenwe stop competing against a rival and instead start competingagainst the situation, we perform far better.
When Roberto Goizueta took over as CEO of Coca-Cola inthe 1980s, he was faced with intense competition from Pepsithat was eating into Cokes growth. His executives werePepsi-focused and intent on increasing market share 0.1 percent a time.Roberto decided to stop competing against Pepsi and insteadcompete against the situation of 0.1 per cent growth.
He asked his executives what was the average fluid intake ofan American per day? The answer was 14 ounces. What wasCokes share of that? Two ounces. Roberto said Coke neededa larger share of that market. The competition wasnt Pepsi. Itwas the water, tea, coffee, milk and fruit juices that went intothe remaining 12 ounces. The public should reach for a Cokewhenever they felt like drinking something.To this end, Coke put up vending machines at every streetcorner. Sales took a quantum jump and Pepsi has never quitecaught up since.
To sum up, the story of the hare and tortoiseteaches us many things: Never give up when faced with failure Fast and consistent will always beat slow andsteady Work to your competencies Compete against the situation, not against arival. Pooling resources and working as a team willalways beat individual performers