On Fishes In Bags

by Apr 27, 2016Thoughts

I had occasion at lunch today to use one of my favorite analogies referencing one of my favorite lines from a movie.  In cautioning against the urge to do something without planning (i.e. considering the cost of success as it were), I like to advise against becoming a “fish in a bag.”

“Now what?”  was the final line of dialog, uttered by the puffer fish named Bloat at the very end of the movie “Finding Nemo.”

What preceded that question was, of course, the successful completion of a very complex plan undertaken by the fish in the dentists’ office in search of freedom.  Clog up the filter, so that he’d have to clean the tank by hand, which means he’d take the fish out and put them in bags, so that they could sneak out the window, across the street, and into the harbor.  Freedom!

When they finally accomplished this feat – impressive as it was – they inevitably found themselves adrift in the ocean, absent thumbs or any other tools with which to exit their plastic bags.  Only then, in that joyous moment of triumph, did it begin to set in – they were fishes, in bags, in the ocean.

This probably wouldn’t end well.

Fortunately, the kind people at Pixar spared us from seeing this play out – the point was made beautifully.  Not every success is a success.  Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.  Different isn’t necessarily better.  Be careful what you wish for.  Etc., etc., etc.

On a less pessimistic note, taking some time to think through the results for each step of a plan is crucial to making defensible decisions, which is the least any of us should expect of ourselves and those with whom we work.

Probably everyone has been guilty of becoming a fish in a bag at one point or the other, and we’ve probably all be fortunate enough to have someone with a pair of scissors to happen across our paths when we did – which is great if it happens, but a little tough to plan around.

May you always bring your own pair of scissors, and always use them generously.  Feel free to share stories of your own escapes!

P.S.  A fish who could have seen the “now what?” coming would have been pretty valuable to have around, wouldn’t they?  A friendly reminder to pick partners with wisdom for your business’ journey.