A working ant’s fable

Working ant fable, parable
A working ant’s fable

The following is a translation of fable in Dutch, circulating the internet for the last five years or so. The original author is unknown (to me at least), but it has appeared on various sites. My intention is to make it availble in the English language, and the moral point should be obvious to anyone and everyone without further analysis. Anyone in the managerial position would also find some flaws with the fable, but that is not the point here either.


“Every day, the ant went to work early, and started working immediately; she was very productive and equally happy. Her boss, a lion, was surprised that the ant was working without superivision. He though to himself: ‘If she is able to bring such output without supervision, what would be her output under permanent supervision?’

He thus hired an experienced supervisor, a cockroach, who could draw up beautiful reports. The first measure that the cockroach took was to put a clock in order to record the comings and goings of the ant. For himself, he hired a secretary, so he hired a spider to manage the archives and monitor the calls for training and quality purposes.

The lion was very pleased with the reports of the cockroach and also asked him to draw up graphs and charts of the production. So the cockroach put an order for a computer and printer, and recruited a fly to manage the IT side of the business.

The ant, not so long ago very productive and happy at work, was becoming desperate from piles of paper and endless meetings that took up her time.

With the rise of employees, the lion thought it was time to appoint a sector manager at the workplace of the ant. This post was entrusted to a cricket who, to begin with, purchased an ergonomic chair and arranged a new carpet for his office. [The walls would remain white.] The new sector manager also needed a computer and an assistant.

With the new sector manager, the working ant’s happy days were over, and she became angrier with every day passing. It is then that her new boss, the cricket, convinced his boss, the lion, that a study of the working place atmosphere was absolutely necessary. Looking through the results of the study, the lion noted that the department where the ant worked was no longer as productive as before. He thus recruited a renowned and first class counselor, an owl, to do an audit and suggest a solution. The owl spent three months in various offices and drafted a very think report with the conclusion that there was too much staff in this company.

And guess whom the lion fired first?

The ant, of course, because, ‘She showed a lack of motivation and had an attitude that led to conflict’”

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