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Reader comment on Tom Peters's passage ...

One-Minute Excellence


On Jan 23, 2009 Rod wrote:

In his book “The Pursuit of Wow”, Tom Peters also used the following Chinese proverb to illustrate the importance of ‘just going for it: “It is not wise to leap a chasm in two bounds.” What Peters didn’t say was there were other sages at the place where those immortal words were spoken. There was an Arab, 2 other Chinese, an American, and a person of uncertain origin. The Arab said, “If you don’t know what is on the other side of the chasm, two leaps are as good as one.” The first Chinese agreed with the proverb speaker by saying “If you wait too long to leap, you will never get to the other side of the chasm.” The second Chinese said, “But, if you want to get across a chasm, it is better to build a bridge.” The American, seeing a business opportunity, answered quickly, “A bridge must be strong enough to last for a long time, well maintained, and I can build and maintain one for you.” The person of unknown origin agreed that there should be a bridge, but added, “The same bridge can not span all chasms. Because chasms vary in size and other properties, the bridge should be modular so it can be constantly reassembled.” When the last words were spoken, the other sages began to chatter. “A bridge must be strong in structure and able to withstand any storm that might arise,” said one. Another said emphatically, “We have never seen a bridge that can be reassembled at will. I’m convinced it is impossible to build.” A third said, “How can such a structure be maintained? Without constant maintenance, the bridge will surly crumble and fall.” The person of unknown origin listened and nodded after each comment, because she knew there was an element of truth in all of them. Finally she spoke: “To reassemble the modules of a bridge to accommodate each chasm, the blueprint for the bridge must also be modular, those responsible for the modules must constantly communicate with each other in an open and honest manner, and decision making should be distributed among the modules and not forced into a funnel. Otherwise, the resulting structure will not bridge any chasm.” After she spoke, there was silence. The assembled sages said goodbye to each other (because all sages are respectful) and walked slowly to their homes. Did the modular view prevail? The sages are still looking into the chasm.



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