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How to boil a live frog

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How to boil a live frog

The story of how you boil a frog alive and its relationship to a business and how that business reacts to its changing circumstances has been around for a long time.

The story says that if you try to put a live frog in boiling water the frog will either try to avoid the water or will jump out, in other words the frog will react.

If you put a live frog in tepid water the frog’s body temperature adjust to the temperature of the water and if you continue to increase the temperature of the water the frog’s body temperature continues to adjust and eventually you boil the frog alive, in other words the frog does not react.

That’s the story.

  • What’s the significance or relevance of that story to how we run our business?
  • It is this, if something significant or major happens that can have a negative impact on our business we react (like the frog in the boiling water), something major has happened we are all aware of it and we instantly make plans to deal with it.
  • If however small things happen over a period of time (like the temperature of the water gradually increasing), we don’t react, e.g. our suppliers prices go up, we lose one or two customers, our sales decline slightly and costs increase slightly, we  don’t adjust to the situation and we don’t take remedial action, slowly the temperature is rising around us.
  • The accumulating negative affect of these changes damages our business and we are not reacting.
  • Eventually we may become like the frog, boiled alive.
  • We have to constantly watch for changes internally and externally that can negatively impact on our business and make the appropriate adjustments.
  • Our internal structures and costs have to reflect the external market, if we don’t react to small changes quickly and decisively we may become like the frog and by the time we realise that we are in trouble we are being boiled alive and it’s too late to react.

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