How to Eat a Whale

I read a NY Times piece this morning on Jim Dolce, the CEO of Lookout, a mobile security company. He had an excellent quote on managing lots of things at once — a necessity when running a fast-growing company.

You can’t get things to change as fast as you would like them to change. You can’t work serially; you have to work in parallel. You have to attempt to work multiple changes at the same time and then, over time, you’ll begin to see the results, and things will begin to converge.

When you’re impatient, you attempt to get something done so that you can then, in serial fashion, go to the next thing. Instead, you have to go wide and work multiple issues at the same time and be patient on each of them. Sooner or later, they will converge.

This reminded me of a more simplified version of this idea, from one of my favorite authors.

MELINDA MAE
by Shel Silverstein
Have you heard of tiny Melinda Mae,
Who ate a monstrous whale?
She thought she could,
She said she would,
So she started in right at the tail.
And everyone said, “You’re much too small,”
But that didn’t bother Melinda at all.
She took little bites and she chewed very slow,
Just like a good girl should…
…And in eighty-nine years she ate that whale
Because she said she would!

Both excellent reminders that to eat a whale, you have to take lots of tiny bites.

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