seventeen camels parable

Long ago a camel trader died, bequeathing his wealth to his three sons to be divided as follows: The eldest to be given a half, the middle son one third and the youngest son a ninth.  The inheritance consisted of seventeen camels.  As hard as they might try, the sons could find no solution that didn’t involve either one of them relinquishing a camel or having to butcher and divide up the meat. The eldest son argued that the youngest son should give up one of his camels.  The youngest son argued that, as the eldest would have the most, he could easily afford to give up one of his.  In frustration and desperation they sought out a wise elder and asked him for help with their situation.

“What will you give me if I help you?” Asked the wise man, who earned his living through arbitrating disputes.   The brothers consulted their stores and offered him a basket of dates, a basket of figs and a sack of grain.  The wise man accepted their gifts and asked them to return in the morning.

When the brothers returned to the wise man at daybreak, bringing with them the seventeen camels, they found him waiting with his camel, which he then gave to them.

With eighteen camels the mathematics became simple.  The eldest son took his half, which consisted of nine camels, the middle son his third which was six camels and the youngest his 9th; two camels.  The remaining camel, their portions adding to seventeen, they restored to the wise man.

Often at work we can be too close to a problem to find an effective solution.  At North Bailey we bring fresh perspective and critical thinking along with a wealth of experience.  We are provocative, challenge convention, ask the difficult questions and allow clients to see their business from a different perspective. We solve business problems.

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Published by Andrew Mann

Managing Partner at NorthBailey. Having had senior marketing & insight roles at Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Coop and M&S, I'm now using my experience & network to solve strategic marketing problems for NorthBailey clients

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