A Peacock in the Land of Penguins: A Fable about Creativity and Courage

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New Edition, Revised and Updated

A Peacock in the Land of Penguins brings new insight to an important topic—workforce diversity. Written in a charming, engaging style, it is a contemporary corporate fable—a tale for our times. The story echoes one that is unfolding each and every day in organizations all across the country—how to manage the increasing diversity of today's workforce to capture the talent, energy, and commitment of all employees. This new edition includes new tips, tools, and strategies for peacocks and penguins alike, as well as an entirely new bonus parable!

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Part I: The Story: A Peacock in the Land of Penguins


There once was a time,
in the not so distant past,
when penguins ruled many lands
in the Sea of Organizations.

These penguins were not always wise,
they were not always popular,
but they were always in charge.

Most organizations looked the same:

Top executives
and managers
wore their distinctive penguin suits,
while worker birds
of many kinds
wore colors and outfits
that reflected their work
and their lifestyles.

Birds who aspired to move up
in their organizations
were encouraged to become
as penguin-like as possible —
to shorten their steps
and learn the penguin stride,
to wear penguin suits,
and follow
the example of their leaders.

Employee Development Departments
extensive training programs
appropriate penguin-like behavior.

The rules
and norms
were clear
from Day One.

Penguins advised in subtle
(and not so subtle) ways:

“This is the way we do things here.”


Part II: From Parable to Practice: Tips and Tools for Feathered Friends


For peacocks and other exotic birds
who are trying to find the way to their own
Land of Opportunity …

Are You a Peacock, or Other Type of Exotic Bird?

Yes No

— — 1. Do you frequently feel like you don’t “fit in” – or that you are “different” in some fundamental way?

— — 2. Do you get criticized for not being a “team player?” (“Team player” used as a euphemism for conforming to group norms.)

— — 3. Do you feel pressured by your boss or others to change your personality in some significant way to fit in?

— — 4. Do you feel ostracized, lonely “left out of the loop” of information and decision-making?

— — 5. Are you unable to identify with anyone at the top of your organization as a role model?

— — 6. Are your ideas and suggestions routinely rejected as “not the way we do things here?”

— — 7. Do you often feel under- or un-appreciated for your talent and skill, while others who are less talented get promoted and rewarded?


Part III: Special Bonus Parable: The Penguins Ate Your Cheese!


The penguins were in trouble and they knew it.

For many years they had ruled the Land of Penguins
with unquestioned authority.

They had built a great enterprise
  that grew and thrived
  in the Sea of Organizations.

Penguins were seen as models of success,

and for a long time
  their world was orderly,
               and safe.

But there came a time when things began to change
  in the Land of Penguins …

Technology changed –
  delivering astounding wonders
        of increased productivity
              and efficiency.

The Land of Penguins could do more with less
  and it took fewer birds to do the work.

Demographic changes brought new birds
  into the workplace …

New generations of young birds arrived –

but somehow they weren’t much like their elders.

They had different values,
  held different attitudes and beliefs,
  and showed little deference to authority.



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