A story which I have read some time ago, landed into my mail box again last week: It is the story of “Fisherman and MBA”.

No,  I don’t intend to post the whole story here!  A simple ‘googling’ with the phrase will push enormous links on to your browser – explaining the story. Only thing is – the locality of the fisherman get changed often (Mexican, Indian/Goan etc) and the qualification of the other character too (Harward MBA, IIM MBA, Tourist etc) .

Just to give some sense of this post to those who haven’t read the story yet, here is the summary of the story:

A fisherman meets an MBA graduate (let me take that!). The professional understands that the fisherman just do fishing for very few hours a day, spending the remaining time of his day enjoying life – at home with wife & kids, evenings with friends etc. Hearing this, the professional starts advising him to increase the fishing hours- which will increase his earnings, which he can invest, which again will bring in revenue etc etc. For each of these suggestions, the fisherman keeps asking enthusiastically –  “then, afer that?” Finally, after giving a plan for 15-20 years of working and wealth creation, the MBA tells him – ‘Then you can retire and enjoy the life most of the day’ to which the fisherman quips: “With all due respect sir, that is what I am doing now!”

Now, why am I saying this in this blog?

When I read this story recently, I happened to relate the same to the Continual Service Improvement (CSI) Model adopted by ITIL.


The Model has 6 stages/steps:

  1. What is the vision?
  2. Where are we now?
  3. Where we want to be?
  4. How do we get there?
  5. Did we get there?
  6. How do we keep the momentum going

These steps are followed in cycles of improvement (Making it “Continual” improvement) towards your vision.

The term “Vision” is so much overused, over-hyped, misused and undervalued (often reduced to a professional decoration on the wall!) in the industry – that many of us miss the importance of the Step 1 in the above CSI Model!

Most of the Improvement initiatives in organizations start with step 2 (analyzing the current state) and then  step3 (deciding where you want to reach with “the current” improvement cycle).

Now the difference between the fisherman and MBA in the above story is:

  • The MBA is in fact (with his trained mind/knowledge) starting with step 2 and moving towards step 3 directly
  • The fisherman (with his conventional wisdom!) is looking at the bigger picture and trying to see what is the vision that is being set to achieve. So he is starting with step 1.

By starting with the understanding of the final Vision, his answer to the second question tells him that he is already there!

The MBA missed the point – as he starts with step 2!!

As many others, I found it a powerful story with clear message. And as an ITIL trainer, I got one more story to use in my trainings!! 🙂

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