Good old lessons in teamworkfrom an age-old fableThe TortoiseAndThe Hare
Once upon a time a tortoise and ahare had an argument about whowas faster.I’m the fastestrunner.That’s not true.The fastest runner isme!
Ok, let’s havea race.Fine!They decided to settlethe argument with a race.They agreed on a routeand started off the 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 Itake a nap, hecould not catch upwith me.
The hare was disappointedat losing the race and hedid some soul-searching.He realized that hed lostthe race only because hehad been overconfident,careless and lax. If he hadnot taken things forgranted, theres no way thetortoise could have beatenhim.Why didI losetherace?
Can we haveanother race?Ok.So he challenged thetortoise to another race.The tortoise agreed.
This time, the hare went allout and ran without stoppingfrom start to finish. He won byseveral 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 canI canwin thehare?
He thought for a while,and then challengedthe hare to anotherrace, but on a slightlydifferent route.The hare agreed.Sure!Can we have anotherrace? This time we’ll gothrough a different route.
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 kilometerson the other side of the river.Goal
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.Whatshould Ido?
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.Hi, buddy. Howabout doing our lastrace again?Great! I think wecould do it muchbetter, if we twohelp each other.Hi, buddy. Howabout doing our lastrace 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 linetogether. They both felt a greatersense of satisfaction than theydfelt 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 wasalready working 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 failureFast and consistent will always beat slow andsteadyWork to your competenciesCompete against the situation, not against arival.Pooling resources and working as a teamwill always beat individual performers