Panchatantra and the CIO: The King's Pet Monkey

Is it better to have a smart enemy than a stupid friend? You be the judge.

Once upon a time there was a powerful king of a mighty kingdom in a far away land.

As kings do, he had a pet monkey. The monkey was loyal to a fault. He served the king with vigor and protected him from all evil. Nothing and nobody would harm the king as long as he was alive and in service of his master.

The king trusted his monkey completely. The monkey was always by the side of the king, waiting for the next order; the next thing he could do for his beloved master.

One summer afternoon, the king, exhausted from shouldering the burden of governance of his vast kingdom, decided to take a nap. The monkey, as always, stood guard. These were the days before electricity or air conditioning so the monkey took a hand held fan and started fanning the king ever so gently. He wanted his master to sleep in comfort undisturbed by the hot afternoon temperature.

The king slept like a baby till a fly entered the room and landed on his chest. The monkey did not want his king disturbed so it swung the fan a little faster so the fly would go away. And the fly went away.

Only to return and take its rightful place on the king’s arm. Again, the monkey swung the fan and the fly took off.

This cycle of landing and swinging went on a few times. The fly would find a different place on the king’s body and the monkey would swing the fan and get rid of it. But with each encounter the monkey got more furious at the fly for disturbing his king. His swings got faster and furious and with each he warned the fly that more severe action was imminent.

But the fly kept coming back. Now, this was war. The monkey had his mind made up. He was going to settle this once and for all. He was going to kill the fly.

So when the next flight brought the fly to the king’s nose, the monkey was ready. In one swift swing it was going to waste the fly. Only this time he had the king’s sword in his hand. It was war you see and in war there is no mercy!

The monkey’s swing was fast and effective. It chopped off the king’s nose. The fly, as always, got away!

Leadership Lessons:

  1. There is always a fly that will make your life miserable. Usually, there are more than one!
  2. It was the king’s nose that went but it could have been worse!
  3. It is better to have a smart enemy than a stupid friend.

Now you must be wondering about the “smart enemy” part. Well, that story is coming next!

About the Author:

Sourabh Hajela is a management consultant and trainer with over 20 years of experience creating shareholder value for his Fortune 50 clients. His consulting practice is focused on IT strategy, alignment and ROI. For more information, please visit Or feel free to contact Sourabh at

P.S.: In Indian culture a nose is often associated with honor and respect. “You have cut the nose of the family” is a phrase often used to convey “you have brought dishonor/disrespect to this family.” A common punishment in those days used to be to cut off someone’s nose to symbolize their disrobing or bringing dishonor upon them. In plain old English this would be “opening a can of whoopass.”

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