The Goose and the Golden Egg
Posted by Claude Warner on Wednesday 9th June 2010 at 22:20:07
I am sure many of you are familiar with the fable of the goose that lays the golden egg.
There are two aspects to the story, firstly the goose’s ability to lay the golden egg, and then the golden egg that it lays.
Stephen Covey in his 7 Habits book calls the goose our Production Capability (PC) and the golden egg our Production (P), and then goes on to write about the relationship between the two.
If, as in the fable, we get greedy and try to get more eggs by cutting open the goose to get “all” of the eggs out, we effectively kill the goose. This destroys its Production Capacity and therefore there will be no more golden eggs, or Production.
As people, our Production Capacity comes from our knowledge, skills, experience, motivation, physical ability, and insight and wisdom, in other words, from our Being, and our Production is what we do. The balance is therefore between our Being and our Doing.
If we push ourselves (or those who work for us) too hard to get Production, we start threatening our Production Capability. As an individual, you can end up with burnout, sickness, and even depression. As an employer, absenteeism goes up, quality of Production goes down, and although activity (and costs) increase, productivity does not increase in proportion.
In a bottom line world, especially in tough economic times, we tend to focus on Production, and neglect Production Capability. This can work for a while, but eventually the goose gets tired and its ability to produce eggs suffers.
This applies as much to production line machinery as to people.
Even the most efficient factory, if the machinery is not properly maintained, will start to have breakdowns, production capacity will be threatened, and actual production will decrease.
Effectiveness is when we balance Production and Production Capacity.
In people, we maintain our production capacity by getting adequate rest, including sufficient sleep, eating healthily and getting enough exercise, especially for those knowledge workers who sit at a desk all day.
Mentally and emotionally, people need to be inspired and motivated. Ideally learning and growth needs to continue regardless of how tough times are.
If people are exhausted and emotionally drained they will have no capacity to increase their Production when the market improves, so a company can lose its competitiveness and with it, market share.
In factories, machinery needs to be properly and regularly maintained in order to maintain production capacity. If the market improves and with it your order book, you cannot increase Production if your Production Capacity is impaired.
The key to effectiveness is to ensure that you “maintain” the Production Capacity of the goose to ensure that it continues to lay (Produce) its golden eggs.
If you want your goose to increase its golden egg production, make sure you invest in increasing the capacity of the goose to lay more of those golden eggs.
As a business leader, working with an executive coach can help you become an even more effective leader by improving your leadership ability and thereby increase your organisational performance.
You can become the goose that lays an ever increasing number of golden eggs.
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