Minimum Performance Standards

Once upon a time, there lived a man named Clarence who had a pet frog named Felix. Clarence lived a modestly comfortable existence on what he earned working at the Wal-Mart, but he always dreamed of being rich.

Felix! he exclaimed one day, Were going to be rich! Im going to teach you how to fly!

Felix, of course, was terrified at the prospect: I cant fly, you idiot… Im a frog, not a canary!

Clarence, disappointed at the initial reaction, told Felix: That negative attitude of yours could be a real problem. Im sending you to class.

So Felix went to a three day class and learned about problem solving, time management, and effective communication… but nothing about flying.

On the first day of flying lessons, Clarence could barely control his excitement (and Felix could barely control his bladder). Clarence explained that their apartment had 15 floors, and each day Felix would jump out of a window starting with the first floor eventually getting to the top floor.

After each jump, Felix would analyze how well he flew, isolate on the most effective flying techniques, and implement the improved process for the next flight. By the time they reached the top floor, Felix would surely be able to fly.

Felix pleaded for his life, but it fell on deaf ears. He just doesnt understand how important this is… thought Clarence, but I wont let nay-sayers get in my way.

So, with that, Clarence opened the window and threw Felix out (who landed with a thud.)

Next day (poised for his second flying lesson) Felix again begged not to be thrown out of the window. With that, Clarence opened his pocket guide to Managing More Effectively and showed Felix the part about how one must always expect resistance when implementing new programs. And with that, he threw Felix out the window.


On the third day (at the third floor) Felix tried a different ploy: stalling, he asked for a delay in the project until better weather would make flying conditions more favorable.

But Clarence was ready for him: he produced a timeline and pointed to the third milestone and asked, You dont want to slip the schedule do you?

From his training, Felix knew that not jumping today would mean that he would have to jump TWICE tomorrow… so he just said: OK. Lets go. And out the window he went.


Now this is not to say that Felix wasnt trying his best. On the fifth day he flapped his feet madly in a vain attempt to fly. On the sixth day he tied a small red cape around his neck and tried to think Superman thoughts.

But try as he might, he couldnt fly.

By the seventh day, Felix (accepting his fate) no longer begged for mercy… he simply looked at Clarence and said: You know youre killing me, dont you?

Clarence pointed out that Felixs performance so far had been less than exemplary, failing to meet any of the milestone goals he had set for him.

With that, Felix said quietly: Shut up and open the window, and he leaped out, taking careful aim on the large jagged rock by the corner of the building.

And Felix went to that great lily pad in the sky.

Clarence was extremely upset, as his project had failed to meet a single goal that he set out to accomplish. Felix had not only failed to fly, he didnt even learn how to steer his flight as he fell like a sack of cement… nor did he improve his productivity when Clarence had told him to Fall smarter, not harder.

The only thing left for Clarence to do was to analyze the process and try to determine where it had gone wrong.

After much thought, Clarence smiled and said: Next time… Im getting a smarter frog!

Had this been a Project in corporate America the results would have been as follows:

Clarence was promoted and given a well earned bonus. Although the project failed, Clarence demonstrated that the test subject remained airborne longer and traveled farther with each attempt; thereby, proving that his innovation and workplan were flawless. Therefore, the failure of the project was obviously due to the lack of commitment and follow-through on the part of Felix.

His failure to meet the objectives and lack of team spirit, as shown by his inability to complete all the assigned test flights, were duly noted in Felixs final Performance Review. He was then terminated, without benefits, for not meeting the minimum performance standards.

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