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Nov 30, 2006

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Importance of planning

The Ant and the Grasshopper,Aesop's fables

Careful preparation and planning is a key step to any endeavor.
When we were schooling, our teachers prepared for us a “study
plan”. The college football tournament was not won by kicking
the ball around, but by adhering to a “game plan”. When we had
enough funds to build a house, we prepared through our
architects a “building plan”. For our business to tick, we put in
place “business plan”, “sales plan”, “marketing plan” and so on.
There is nothing like being prepared for every possible situation
and the earlier we do it, the more assured we are of our success.


The Ant and the Grasshopper

The Ant and the Grasshopper

(Illus by Arthur Rackham)

In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about,
chirping and singing to its heart's content. An Ant passed by,
bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the

"Why not come and chat with me," said the Grasshopper,
"instead of toiling and moiling in that way?"

"I am helping to lay up food for the winter," said the Ant, "and
recommend you to do the same."

"Why bother about winter?" said the Grasshopper; we have got
plenty of food at present." But the Ant went on its way and
continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had
no food and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants
distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had
collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew:

It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.


It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.

Kidding me:

This is an edited version of the rather hilarious parody
written by Jim Quinn:-

When winter comes, the shivering Grasshopper calls a press
conference and demands to know why the Ant should be
allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and
starving. CBS, NBC, and ABC show up and provide pictures
of the shivering Grasshopper next to a film of the Ant in his
comfortable home with a table filled with food.

America is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can it be that,
in a country of such wealth, this poor Grasshopper is allowed
to suffer so?

Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the Grasshopper, and
everybody cries when he sings It is Not Easy Being Green.
Bill and Hillary Clinton make a special guest appearance on
the CBS Evening News and tell a concerned Dan Rather that
they will do everything they can for the Grasshopper who has
been denied the prosperity he deserves by those who
benefited unfairly. Richard Gephardt exclaims in an interview
with Peter Jennings that the Ant has gotten rich off the "back
of the Grasshopper," and calls for an immediate tax hike on
the Ant to make him pay his "fair share."

Hillary gets her old law firm to represent the Grasshopper in
a defamation suit against the Ant. The Ant loses the case.

The story ends as we see the Grasshopper finishing up the last
bits of the ant's food while he lives in a government house.
The Ant has disappeared in the snow. And on the TV, which
the Grasshopper bought by selling most of the Ant's food,
they are showing Bill Clinton standing before a wildly
applauding audience announcing a new era of "Fairness" has
dawned in America.

Quotable Quotes:

“Preparation is everything. Noah did not start
building the ark when it was raining.”
... Warren Buffett

“Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
... Dwight David Eisenhower

“Whoever is first in the field and awaits the coming
of the enemy, will be fresh for the fight; whoever is
second in the field and has to hasten to battle will
arrive exhausted.” ... Sun Tzu

“Anyone who thinks he or she can evaluate business
conditions five years from now, flunks.”
... Mark McCormack

“You need to plan the way a fire department plans.”
... Andrew S. Grove

“A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can
always depend on the support of Paul.”
... George Bernard Shaw

[browse collection of quotes and quotations]

Lessons in life:

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. This is one of the
fundamental principles of good management. A company
should always have short and long-term growth plans. At a
strategic level, a business plan will enable the company to
identify business objectives and opportunities. At the
operational level, planning leads to smooth and successful
daily operational activities. For family businesses, succession
planning is vital as we have seen examples of businesses
folding up after the loss of their key leader. Plans should
also not be cast in stone. They should be reviewed constantly,
in line with the changing market conditions of the particular
industry. On a separate note, the fable does allude to the
social dichotomy between the rich and the poor. There are
the people who make a fortune through sheer hard work, and
there are the loafers who blame everyone except themselves
for the poverty they face. The strange thing, however, is that
these loafers survive. In certain welfare states, they are so well
provided for by the government (with social insurance for old
age, illness, and unemployment needs) that they are better off
not working. Tax the rich to give to the poor. While this will
bridge the income gap between the two classes, if overdone, it
may force the country's wealthy citizens to migrate to countries
with lower tax regime. Not only that, it gives the poor no
incentive to work hard, or to upgrade their skills. While the fable
did not reveal much of the fate of the Grasshopper, we know that
in real life, Grasshoppers will continue to hop about merrily and
enjoy the fruits of labor of the Ants. They do it either via the
legitimate social framework, or the thugs' method portrayed in
the animated film “A Bug's Life.” Life is never fair.

Related Articles:

Business strategy based on false assumptions
Effective and Efficient Meetings
Control and Overcome Procrastination

Books worth reading:

It's all about planning in advance. Millionaires are not born
overnight. However, with careful planning, nothing is
impossible. Check out the suggested plan by millionaire Michael
Masterson in his book Seven Years to Seven Figures: The Fast-
Track Plan to Becoming a Millionaire or the financial plan by
IRA expert Ed Slott in Your Complete Retirement Planning
Road Map: The Leave-Nothing-to-Chance, Worry-Free, All-
Systems-Go Guide.

© Business Fables and Management Lessons

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The ants were not stealing their stores from the grasshopper or at the grasshopper's expense. Your political metaphor is simplistic and biased at best.


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