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New Story of the Hare and Tortoise
CAC Management Consultants International
Once upon a time a tortoise and a hare had an argument about who was faster. They decided to settle the argument with a race. They agreed on a route and started off the race.
The hare shot ahead and ran briskly for some time. Then seeing that he
was far ahead of the tortoise, he thought he'd sit under a tree for some
time and relax before continuing the race.
He sat under the tree and soon fell asleep. The tortoise plodding on
overtook him and soon finished the race, emerging as the undisputed champ.
This is the version of the story that we've all grown up with.
But then recently, someone told me a more interesting version of this
story. It continues.
The hare was disappointed at losing the race and he did some Defect Prevention (Root Cause Analysis). He realised that he'd lost the race only because he had been overconfident, careless and lax.
If he had not taken things for granted, there's no way the tortoise could have beaten him. So he challenged the tortoise to another race. The tortoise agreed.
This time, the hare went all out and ran without stopping from start
to finish. He won by several miles.
The moral of the story? Fast and consistent will always beat the slow
If you have two people in your organisation, one slow, methodical and
reliable, and the other fast and still reliable at what he does, the fast
and reliable chap will consistently climb the organisational ladder faster
than the slow, methodical chap.
It's good to be slow and steady; but it's better to be fast and reliable.
But the story doesn't end here. The tortoise did some thinking this time,
and realised that there's no way he can beat the hare in a race the way
it was currently formatted.
He thought for a while, and then challenged the hare to another race, but on a slightly different route.
The hare agreed. They started off. In keeping with his self-made commitment
to be consistently fast, the hare took off and ran at top speed until
he came to a broad river.
The finishing line was a couple of kilometers on the other side of the river.
The hare sat there wondering what to do. In the meantime the tortoise
trundled along, got into the river, swam to the opposite bank, continued
walking and finished the race.
The moral of the story? First identify your core competency and then
change the playing field to suit your core competency.
In an organisation, if you are a good speaker, make sure you create opportunities
to give presentations that enable the senior management to notice you.
If your strength is analysis, make sure you do some sort of research,
make a report and send it upstairs. Working to your strengths will not
only get you noticed but will also create opportunities for growth and
The story still hasn't ended.
The hare and the tortoise, by this time, had become pretty good friends
and they did some thinking together. Both realised that the last race
could have been run much better.
So they decided to do the last race again, but to run as a team this
They started off, and this time the hare carried the tortoise till the
riverbank. There, the tortoise took over and swam across with the hare
on his back.
On the opposite bank, the hare again carried the tortoise and they reached
the finishing line together. They both felt a greater sense of satisfaction
than they'd felt earlier.
The moral of the story? It's good to be individually brilliant and to
have strong core competencies; but unless you're able to work in a team
and harness each other's core competencies, you'll always perform below
par because there will always be situations at which you'll do poorly
and someone else does well.
Teamwork is mainly about situational leadership, letting the person with
the relevant core competency for 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 his failure.
The tortoise changed his strategy because he was already working as hard
as he could. In life, when faced with failure, sometimes it is appropriate
to work harder and put in more effort.
Sometimes it is appropriate to change strategy and try something different.
And sometimes it is appropriate to do both.
The hare and the tortoise also learnt another vital lesson. When we stop
competing against a rival and instead start competing against the situation,
we perform far better.
When Roberto Goizueta took over as CEO of Coca-Cola in the 1980s, he
was faced with intense competition from Pepsi that was eating into Coke's
His executives were Pepsi-focussed and intent on increasing market share
0.1 per cent a time.
Goizueta decided to stop competing against Pepsi and instead compete
against the situation of 0.1 per cent growth.
He asked his executives what was the average fluid intake of an American
per day? The answer was 14 ounces. What was Coke's share of that? Two
ounces. Goizueta said Coke needed a larger share of that market.
The competition wasn't Pepsi. It was the water, tea, coffee, milk and
fruit juices that went into the remaining 12 ounces. The public should
reach for a Coke whenever they felt like drinking something.
To this end, Coke put up vending machines at every street corner. Sales
took a quantum jump and Pepsi has never quite caught up since.
To sum up, the story of the hare and tortoise teaches us many things.
In Short, BE STRATEGIC!
CAC Management Consultants International is an international executive development consultancy specialising in outplacement, career coaching, executive coaching, executive development and corporate training. We can provide quality services in 15 countries throughout the Asia Pacific Region, US & UK through our strategic alliances who are our local partners in Australia, New Zealand, USA, UK, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Hong Kong, India, Korea & Japan.
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