Management in the Not for Profit Organization

Dedicated to Exploring the Philosophies and Techniques of Management in the Non-Profit Sector

The Ivory Tower


Once upon a time there was a member of the corporate royalty who lived in an ivory tower.  He occasionally gazed down upon his subjects and formed opinions about what he viewed.


He commanded that changes be made by using his almighty instrument, the memo.  Immediate compliance was rewarded.  Hesitance was not.  Dissent was punished.


One day some subjects invited strangers into the realm.  These strangers said that they had seen lands where things were better.  The subjects  asked the strangers to show them how to improve things in their land.


They sought to unite with the strangers because they did not believe that they could ally themselves with their own leadership.  That is, they sought a union with the outsiders.  They saw this union as a chance for salvation.


When the leader saw this union forming, he realized that he must do something different.  He sent his closest advisers to talk with his subjects.  They found that the people were dissatisfied with many things.  The advisers also realized that the subjects blamed the leader for almost all of their troubles, even if the leader was not the cause.  It turned out that they did not know their leader at all.  And they liked him even less.


Upon learning this, the leader joined his advisers in meeting with the subjects.  He believed that if they knew him.  That is, if they knew what he was really like, that they would appreciate him.


The leader listened to the complaints of the people.  He formulated possible solutions in conjunction with them and his advisors.  He also explained the rationale for many of the commands he had issued in the past.


For all of this, the people were thankful.  They appreciated the fact that the leader and his advisers had sought their thoughts and begun to implement their ideas.  They told their leader that if he had done all of this in the first place, they would never have invited the strangers into their land.


In order to preserve the improved state of affairs, the leader decided to create a great council.  It would have some of his advisors and subjects together every time it convened.  Its purpose was to give the representatives of the subjects a place to say what was on their minds.  It would also provide a forum for the leader to present decisions he had made.


 Then he privately explained to his chief advisor:  “It is important that the subjects FEEL LIKE their opinions are valued”.  The chief advisor inquired “Don’t you mean that it is important that their opinions ARE valued?”.  “No” was his reply.


NOTE:  The organization upon which this fable was based experienced yet another union vote only two years later.