The Tortoise and The Hare (Part 3)

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 time. 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 growth. His executives were Pepsi-focused 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.

Chief among them are that fast and consistent will always beat slow and steady; work to your competencies; pooling resources and working as a team will always beat individual performers; never give up when faced with failure; and finally, compete against the situation, not against a rival.

Tell me what you think!