A Parable

Two children each need an orange for separate recipes they are working on, but there is only one orange left in the house. An argument ensues, and, hearing the bickering, their parent intervenes, compromising by cutting the orange in two and giving half to each child.

The first uses the orange half to make half a glass of juice, throwing away the rind. The second uses the zest to weakly flavor a cake, throwing away the pulp. Both children are ultimately disappointed by the outcome.

Had the parent facilitated conversation between the two children, each could have expressed their particular interest in the orange—the pulp or the rind—and both would have gotten everything they needed from the fruit.

Moral of the Story: When negotiations about the use of natural resources devolve into bickering and parties lose trust in one another, no one is truly happy with the outcome. However, when communication and cooperation lead to mutual respect and understanding, we can achieve multiple-use management solutions that support all parties involved.

Note: Various versions of this parable can be found floating around cyberspace and academia, and most attribute its origin to Harvard Business School.

 

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