Monday, February 25, 2008

Involvement vs Commitment

Perhaps many of you have heard some variation of the story about the chicken and the pig when it comes to involvement vs. commitment.

The basic premise:

Think about a meal consisting of eggs and ham and consider the contributions made by a chicken and a pig. A chicken provided the eggs and a pig provided the ham. It can be said the chicken was involved, because the chicken continues to live as it lays more eggs. It can be said the pig was committed, because the pig gave its all to provide the ham and other pork products.

This is one of those "motivational" stories that sounds real good when you read it, and I've heard some of my colleagues use it during teambuilding sessions for various companies to motivate their staff towards being committed as opposed to just being involved. But continuing to follow that analogy probably isn't what management had in mind, nor is it what most workers want to do with their lives.

The chicken is contributing at a long term, sustainable level. She's able to keep giving, as her output is renewable. The pig, however, is screwed. He gives everything at a single burst, and that's it. No more pig, and he needs to be replaced. While the "farmer" gains from both levels of contribution, the pig isn't around to see the benefits. The farmer's out looking for another pig.

And the chicken? She's just sitting there, laying more eggs, and continually providing for the farmer. I don't think there are many employees who want to be the pig. Everyone who is part of the team would much rather be the chicken. And the next time a motivational speaker uses that analogy, think about it... Do you want to go down in a blaze of glory, or do you want to produce over the long term?