Written by Jon Scieszka
Read by Linda Zwicker, UW–Madison School of Human Ecology
“When I was invited to write about a book that has inspired me or influenced my thinking, truth be told I panicked just a wee bit. What I read would say a lot. For instance, our leadership team is reading The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable and I’ve actually spit out my drink reading Bossypants because it’s that funny. I tried reading The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality because his holiness the Dalai Lama has visited campus in May — my gosh, that was hard for me to get through. But is that something I want the smartest people on campus to know?
So with a deep breath here it is… The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka.
I first heard the story about 20-plus years ago at the start of meeting where the directors would be making a major decision. The question was: Should the national governing body of an Olympic sport be co-located with other Olympic organizations or move halfway across the country to be closer to the athletes?
The executive director brought in a professional facilitator because we needed a neutral third party to help us navigate through the emotion, recognize the risks and benefits of each side, and make an informed decision.
The first step was to find ways to let go of our own egos, baggage and personal agendas — not an easy assignment for any group. To set the tone for the two-day summit, we read out loud, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. Oh, there was some eye rolling around the table. Weren’t we there to decide the future of a huge Olympic sport? With dreams of gold medals on the line, the health of the organization at risk, are we seriously going to read a children’s book?
It was a brilliant move. This is the story of the three little pigs told from the wolf’s perspective. Were the three little pigs victims of an aggressive canine or was the wolf in the wrong place at the wrong time? Could this all just be a case of shoddy construction and misunderstanding? Going around the table everyone read a page and by the time we were done there was laughter, folks relaxed a little and gently, without the artificial “ice-breaker-exercise-what-color-M&M-are-you-and-why” it became clear: Simple is sometimes best, there are two sides to every story and somewhere in the middle is the truth.”