Implementation Parable – Starfish

Implementation Parable – Starfish

If you are ever overwhelmed with the amount of work or the number of people coming your way and just feel that you can’t help them all – I’m hoping the below Parable will help.

Adapted from The Star Thrower:

Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.

Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching.  As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea.  The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning!  May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”

The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”

The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”

In the end, the amount of (whatever) may be overwhelming, but if you handle one part of it, make one more connection, and take one step forward – you’ll be able to say, “It made a difference to that one!”

This is a great reminder that everyone counts and that small victories matter.

References and Resources

The River Parable (a critique of the Starfish parable)

A different perspective can be found here

Supporting Music

The Strokes – Live at TRNSMT 2022 (Full Concert)

IDLES – Live at Pinkpop 2022 (Full Concert)

Note: Originally posted January 14, 2018

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