My Best and Favorite Closing - The Moose Metaphor

Naaaaa... It's the Moose Joke!!!

My training goals include anchoring the key concepts of change, continuous improvement, and teamwork. This is done with a story containing a punch line that makes elegant sense and serves to climax the session. It seems memorable, also.

(Note: This is my Most Best Joke. Feel completely free to use it.
But PLEASE do not republish it.
It can be printed - just not for reproduction or distribution, please)

Delivery Comment - Just before telling the story, I will generally summarize the key learning points for the session. These typically include things as:

And then I ask a question:

"So, based on all the things that we've done today, would you all now agree that (today's topic: quality improvement, change, team building, etc.) is a lot like shooting moose?"

(Pause, get a sense of bewilderment from the group.)


Okay. Maybe I should explain.

You see, these three hunters fly to Alaska and charter a float plane to fly back to this lake they visited last year. They land on the lake and the pilot taxis up to the point and lets the men out. They unload their gear and the pilot announces that he'll be back in three days.

Three days later, the pilot lands on the lake and taxis up to the point. The men load the gear and then strap a moose onto the pontoons.

The pilot then says, "That's It. Let's go."

One of the men says,

"What do you mean that's it. We have two more moose to load."

The men and the pilot then get into a long discussion about the carrying capacity of the plane, the temperature and the lift of the air, the length of the lake, the weight of the men and the gear and the moose.

Finally, one of the men says, "Look. Last year we took off from this same lake with the same kind of aircraft, the same wind and weather conditions, the same three men, the same gear and three moose."

And a bit later in the argument, he adds: "The only difference between this year and last year is the Pilot!"

They continue to argue and finally persuade the pilot to do it. So they load the other two moose on the aircraft and strap them down on the plane.

(I walk through the next few paragraphs, arms out like the wings of an airplane and then sloshing through the mud, and then arms out again like a plane. I go as far across the room, from one side to the other, as I can.)

They then taxi to the far end of the lake and turn the plane around. The pilot shuts it off and the men get out and drag it back into the weeds. They then get back into the plane and grab hold of the trees and branches. The pilot restarts the plane and revs it all the way up. At top speed, he shouts, "Let go." The plane begins to go faster and faster across the lake.

Finally, the plane takes off.


But the pontoons hit the top of the branches. The plane goes end over end.... The men go flying. The gear goes flying.... The moose go flying....

After a few moments, one of the men comes to.

He looks around and yells, "Bill!"

After a moment (from the other side of the room -- walk there), he hears, "Joe!"

"Bill -- where are we?" (pause, pause)

"Joe ..... Looks like about fifty feet farther than last year!"

When the laughter subsides, I then close with comments around the fact that change and improvement is often about going fifty feet farther than last year and that continuous improvement is just that -- a continuous process of continuous continuous improvement!

50 feet farther

And that any improvement process is about getting those 50 feet behind the wagon that's being pushed plus the 50 feet pulling the wagon to work together more effectively.

This story has been told repeatedly, almost becoming a trademark closing of mine. Some friends have heard me tell it many times, and still find it fun. Use it!

These are the Key Learning Points, which I show as a transparency and explain as the key points of my presentation just before telling the joke and then flash back on the screen right after telling the joke as a closing point.

· We need to make Continuous Progress Forward

· Focus on Continuous Continuous Improvement

· Not Every Step is a Success

· Celebrate Any and All Progress

· Round Wheels are Already In the Wagon

· Engage and Enlist the Energy of All

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