Once upon a time…

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Once upon a time, there was a King who ruled over a small prosperous Kingdom situated in a valley. The people were a contented lot. Their world was the valley and the tall mountains encircling the kingdom provided them with a sense of security. However, the King was feeling restless. The kingdom was visited by wandering scholars and they told the King about the world beyond the mountains. The King now wanted to expand his kingdom. However, his courtiers and some generals were reluctant and tried to dissuade the King.  The King however sent a couple of scouts to find more information about the world beyond the mountains.

 After a couple of months, the scouts came back and told the King that beyond the mountains were vast plains on which lay many kingdoms. These kingdoms were much more prosperous and they had very strong armies. If these kingdoms had to be captured, the King would need a much larger army and warriors who knew how to fight a war in the plains. The King’s army had not been involved in any major battles for many years now and all they knew was mountain warfare.

 The King realized that he would need to get a few key warriors who could train his army for the new way of battle and also lead them in to battle. He picked a few from his army who had previously been part of the kingdoms on the plains. One of his trusted advisor’s told him about a small clan of ferocious warriors living on the plains who could be asked to help.

The King was smart enough to realize that he would need these people so he made all possible efforts to get them to join him. He promised them titles, lands, wealth. The warrior clan people finally agreed to join the King.

 Over the months, the warrior clan along with the few people from the King’s existing army worked really hard to retrain the King’s army. The King ensured that they were well fed and kept comfortable. For the warrior clan people, it was a good reprieve from a life of constant struggle and hardship. The army started seeing them as leaders and willingly followed their instructions. After a year, the warrior clan announced that the army was ready to do battle in the plains.

 The King called his generals to work out the battle strategy. Some of the generals were not in favour and they resented the growing influence of the warrior clan. They advised the King that the best strategy was to keep the warrior clan people at the back of the army mounted on the kingdom’s biggest elephants. This would ensure that the enemy would run away just by seeing the fact that the King’s army had these ferocious warriors.

 Finally the day of the first battle dawned. The warrior clan was not happy about being asked to be in the background but they had no say in the strategy. The first battle went very well for the King since his retrained forces put in a good performance and the enemy also saw these fierce warriors in the background. The King’s forces won the battle and the King rewarded the generals handsomely. The warrior clan was also rewarded and for the first time in their lives, they made money without having to risk their lives.

 After a few months, the King decided to attack another kingdom. His trusted advisor warned him that the new enemy was far more accomplished than the previous one and hence he would need a different strategy, one that would involve using the warrior clan people to lead the attack and decide on the battle strategy and attack formations. The King’s generals however convinced him that the old strategy was the best since it had worked before.

The day of the battle dawned and on the first day itself the King’s army suffered huge casualties. As the casualties mounted, the King asked the warrior clan people to get down from their elephants and go to battle. The warrior clan people had by now got used to a life of comfort. They had got used to getting rewards for sitting in the background. They refused to come down from their elephants and the King finally lost the battle and his kingdom as well.

There are quite a few key takeaways from this fable related to management topics ranging from business models to change management. So what is your key takeaway?

Image Credits: worldarmies.blogspot.com

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