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The Bell

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The bell was ringing for the 7th time when the king was about to sign a trade treaty with his neighborhood kingdom. The bell had been continuously interrupting, each time the bell rang the king had to stop the discussion. Actually the bell was installed by the first king of the country as a token of gratitude to the people who had chosen him. The purpose was any grieving people can ring the bell and the king would attend at any cost, day or night.


At that time the population was thin and this method worked well. But then the kingdom expanded and the population multiplied, this continual tradition was a real menace for the current king to think, eat or sleep peacefully. So the king discussed with the advisor who was his childhood tutor about removing the bells. But the advisor was not in favor of losing the selfless service of the king to the people. However, the king thought by attending every subject’s grief, which was almost trivial, he was not able to commit to other needful improvements. So he decided to divide his kingdom into 10 provinces and to choose 11 wise men to attend their grievances.

The chosen 11 men were taught the laws of the kingdom by the advisor. The king took the 11 men along with him every time the bell rang. So they got a firsthand knowledge of dealing with problems. Wisest of the 11 was chosen to be the chief counselor and the remaining 10 were placed in charge of the ten provinces.

At the beginning of every week the 10 province heads assembled in the palace headed by the chief counselor and discussed the issues they were not able to resolve. And the chief counselor discussed the unresolved issues with the king and the advisor. At first the people were unhappy due to the denial of direct access to the king. Soon they realized that the 10 men were solving their problems just as the king would. Besides, they didn’t have to travel all the way to the palace for resolving their grievances. Finally, the bell was removed. The king could now focus on other important issues. He could also think, eat and sleep peacefully.

Moral of the Story:

1. It is not always necessary to follow the old traditions. Be innovative!

2. A leader should prioritize his time over small and big issues

3. A leader should not be a corporate dictator. He should appreciate Empowerment.

4. Empowerment of employees requires appropriate training and providing them with resources

5. Employees should be accountable for their results

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Author: Kaizen Institute - India!

Kaizen Institute – India is part of the Global Kaizen Institute operations. Kaizen Institute was established by Sensei Masaaki Imai, the GURU of Kaizen. He wrote the 1st book 28 yrs ago and that is when it all started . We operate in 30+ countries today and have over 400+ coaches helping more then 600 organizations Learn, Apply, Sustain – Kaizen/ Operational Excellence. In India we have two physical offices – Pune & Ahmedabad and 27 coaches in all.

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