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Saturday, June 26, 2021

Bell the Cat Rule

There is an old story called Belling the Cat in which a nest of mice decide that for their own safety the cat should be made to wear a bell so that they can hear it coming.  Although initially applauded, the plan is later dismissed when the mice realize that none of them is willing to volunteer to do the actual work of affixing the bell to the cat.

Back when I had more free time, I used to take on active roles in voluntary associations in which there were no paid employees.  In organizational meetings, the Belling the Cat scenario came up so frequently that I hit upon a solution which I named the "Bell the Cat Rule":

The one who proposes a task is the one who performs the task.
This works out pretty well because generally a person is motivated to put in the effort to make something succeed when it is their own idea. After a few applications of the rule, it also saves time at future meetings because committee members learn to stop proposing projects that they would not want to work on themselves.

For more of my thoughts on voluntary associations and many other topics, please see my website Papa's Anthology of Paternal Advice.