The Parable of the Boiled Frog – Another Learning Disability

When you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, he jumps out.  Throw him in cold water he swims around, heat it up and he is happy till he boils.  He reacts to quick change not slow relentless change.  When I first heard this in the 90's I wondered if GM would get out of the pot.  I think they just slowly boiled.  Funny that the world could see it, but not them.  I bet they still blame the credit crisis for their current problems.

I was working at a client who was in a declining business and I challenged them with the parable of the boiled frog.  I think the story really stuck.  At the end of my consulting engagement, they gave a green ceramic frog as a thank you.  Sometimes a neat metaphor will really stick.  I am happy to tell you that they have thriving business still but have diversified into many products to the same client base.  I think there real core value was the focus on the clients needs and providing excellent service.  They also used technology to make them more productive and competitive.  They were never complacent even though their profit margins were excellent.

Many organizations who are making good margins are reluctant to change and get stuck and slowly boil.  Sometimes the introduction of a new systems is a way to shake up the organization.   My client mentioned above did that regularly over the years.  I think they really kept searching for ways to improve and provide new services.  In the old days most of their people worked in manufacturing the product, today their product is really their systems for serving the customer and most of their people work in the customer service area.  They are a great example of evolution, "Dealing with Darwin".     

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