the cook and the key

Long ago a cook lay languishing in a dimly lit palace dungeon having been accused of over seasoning the royal broth.  As the day dawned for his release, he heard the welcome sound of the jailer descending the steep stone steps to his cell.  Freedom, however, was not quite in his grasp.  The jailer unclasped him from his leg irons and manhandled him through to another room.  In the flickering candlelight he made out three identical doors.  The jailor told him that behind one door was a staircase that led back up to the kitchen and to freedom. Behind the other two doors lay solid stone walls.  If he picked either of those two doors, he would stay in the dungeon for the rest of his days.  Leaving him with a key, he told him that he had one hour to make his choice.

The poor cook was besides himself with despair.  He desperately wanted his freedom, but, however he looked at the problem, he came back to the conclusion that he had a one in three chance of getting it right.  Could he really leave his future life to chance?

As he stared blankly at the doors, he became aware of a slight movement in the corner of the room.  Carefully carrying his light, he made out the form of an old prisoner, manacled to the wall.

“Why so desperate?” asked the wise old man.  The cook sat on the floor besides him and explained his dilemma.  “What will you give me if I help you to your freedom?”  asked the wily inmate. 

“I can give you my cloak, which has kept me warm through the long, cold winter” replied the cook. “And when I return to work, I’ll send you your dinner, freshly cooked and delicious each night.”  The wise man accepted the terms and, no sooner had the cloak been fastened around his shoulders, said:

“I have pondered this same question since I heard the jailor explain it to you. Here is my answer.  Take the candle and hold it carefully in front of each keyhole.  If the flame holds steady, the wall behind is solid.  If the flame flickers, it is caused by the draft from the staircase beyond.”

Heartily thanking him for his wisdom, the cook easily found the door which unlocked his freedom and bade farewell to the wise man.

Often, in business, the stakes are so high that we find it impossible to identify the correct solutions.  At North Bailey we bring fresh perspective and critical thinking along with a wealth of experience to identify and solve your business problems.  We are provocative, challenge convention, ask the difficult questions and allow you to see your business from a different perspective.

We solve business problems.

Get in contact to find out how we can unlock your door.

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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