[FOUNTAIN]Taking a cue from a bird on flexibility

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[FOUNTAIN]Taking a cue from a bird on flexibility

The “kite theory” is the most talked-about issue among businessmen today. Jeong Gwang-ho wrote about the restructuring of the kites in his “Chief Executive Officer Management Parables.” Known as a bird with the longest lifespan, the small hawk lives up to 40 years on average, but some live up to 70 years. However, in order for a kite to live until 70 years old, it has to make a very painful decision. When a kite becomes 40 or so, its talons become dull, and it can no longer grab prey as effectively as it used to.
The beak will grow and bend towards its chest, and the bird’s feathers will become thicker and darker. Because its wings become heavier as it ages, it becomes hard for the bird to fly.
Most kites will accept the fate and wait for the last day, but some choose to go through a painful, six-month regimen so they can live much longer. Kites that choose to regenerate themselves fly to a summit and build a nest.
First, it pecks a rock to break its old beak and grow a new one. With the new, sharper beak, it will pull out each talon. When a new set of talons grows, then it will pull out all the feathers on its wings.
New feathers will grow, and after about six months, the kite will be born again and enjoy another 30 years of active life.
The parable of the kite teaches us that no new future can be attained without a painful process of regeneration. “Gibrat’s Law” suggests a similar theory.
Gibrat, who has analyzed the rise and fall of thousands of U.S. companies, discovered an interesting fact. How much a company grows had nothing to do with the size of the company at the moment. Also, there was no guarantee that a big, leading company would continue to succeed in the future.
According to Gibrat’s Law, the survival rate of companies is the same regardless of size.
A recent study showed that only 12 of the companies that made the country’s top 100 list 40 years ago remain in the list proves that Gibrat’s Law holds true. Regardless of the size, the key to longevity is flexibility.
Companies that fail to catch up with the changing economic circumstances and market and stick to the conventional ideas and traditions cannot survive. Just like a kite, it is necessary to completely shed the old self. The “kite theory” can be applied to managing one’s personal life as well as a company.


by Lee Se-jung

The writer is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.

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