Cutting the Head off the Fish

Ah-ha Moment

Despite the rather gruesome title, this is a delightful little story of a young girl with an inquisitive mind. One day she was watching her mother make dinner. The main course was going to be baked fish. She observed her mother unwrap the fish and promptly cut off the head and tail before placing the balance of the fish in the baking pan. Inquisitive, as many young children are, she asked her mother why she had done so.

Her mother thought for a while before saying, “I've always done it that way - that's how grandma baked fish.”

The answer bothered the girl, but she did not explore further until the next time she was at her grandma’s house.

“Do you cut the head and tail off a fish before baking it?” she asked.

“Yes,” said her grandmother.


“I’m really not sure,” grandma said after a few moments of thought. “I guess because that is the way my mother baked fish.” This answer obviously did not satisfy the girl’s curiosity. On the next visit to her great-grandmother’s house, she couldn’t wait to get pose the question. When she finally talked to the great-grandmother she got the real story.

To see the real reason for cutting the heads off the fish, scroll down.

“That’s easy, said great-grandma, “because my baking pan was too small to fit in the whole fish”.

Each day millions of employees and business owners accomplish tasks by doing things the way they have always been done – never giving a thought as to why a particular part of the regiment is even necessary. Yet when elements of an overall task are questioned, it is often discovered that unnecessary steps deter from overall productivity.

Good business time management depends on eliminating unnecessary steps where they exist so that important tasks can be accomplished before they are urgent.

This is especially true on teams. Typically, teams are under time constraints so intense they look for short cuts. While the cuts are often good, they can lead to detrimental outcomes. Make sure you know why you are cutting the heads off fish or you may have your tail cut off.

Life Lesson: Ask why things are as they are.