The Crow & the Pitcher… Quality Lessons from Aesop

We came across an article from Lifehacker the other day discussing childhood fables and other moral stories that are applicable to adults as well.

One of the stories shared resonated with us.  It’s Aesop’s The Crow & the Pitcher:

The Story: A crow is flying around on an abnormally hot summer day looking for water. He comes across a pitcher of water, but when he tries to stick his beak in he can’t reach the water. He tries and tries, slowly getting more dehydrated. He’s about to give up and accept his fate when he has an idea: he drops small pebbles in the pitcher until the water level rises to the point where he can reach it.

What’s the lesson as applicable to quality? As the article states, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Organizations wanting quality shouldn’t give up trying to find solutions and accept the fate of failing to meet customer expectations.  Even if the first idea isn’t dropping pebbles in the pitcher, there are quality tools that can get us to the one that works best.  “Little by little does the trick.”

Let’s say an organization receives a shipment of merchandise riddled with defects.  They generally reach out to the factory, and heated conversations pursue as to who is liable and how it can be resolved.  Think like the crow…

Accept that you’ve got a shipment of defective merchandise.  With no other changes, there’s no reason to believe future shipments will be any different. You need solutions. Don’t keep sticking your beak in the pitcher, as it was.

Start communications with the supplier and/or other parties involved and work more on brainstorming to find that root cause.  Patching up defects with poorly thought out solutions usually results in wasting additional time and resources.  Use quality tools, such as fishbone diagrams, to determine what went wrong and why. Be persistent until you find the solution that will work best.

Develop a corrective action strategy.  The crow sticking his beak inside repeatedly and expecting different results is what Einstein proclaimed is insanity.  The crow figures this out and instead starts filling the pitcher with rocks. Developing and implementing a strategy that effectively addresses the current situation and also prevents future occurrences works best.

“Persistence is the key to solving any problem you have because eventually—even if the situation seems dire—you WILL find a solution.”

For more applicable Aesop Fables, check out this online collection.

aesop

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