The Tale of the Pig, the Chicken, and the Paratroopers: The Power of Commitment

People often use the Pig and the Chicken in the Egg and Bacon Breakfast to explain the difference between being involved and being committed; the chicken is involved, but the pig is fully committed.

Involvement is good, but it lacks the accountability that commitment brings. To foster commitment, we must have some skin in the game and attach real importance to our goals.

A great friend of mine, Doug Fain, shared an enlightening story about the impact of commitment versus involvement in the US Paratrooper division.

There was a team responsible for packing parachutes. As you can imagine, it’s a crucial role—if the parachute fails to open, the consequences can be deadly. To monitor quality, they tracked the number of parachutes that failed to open. Initially, 4 out of every 1000 parachutes failed.

Despite offering improved training and implementing other measures, the failure rate was reduced only to 1 in 1000. A new General came in and decided to make a change, understanding the difference between involvement and commitment.

He introduced a rule that for every 1000 parachutes packed, the packers had to make one parachute jump. This shift moved the packers from mere involvement to commitment, as they were now subject to the 1 in 1000 failure rate.

In just a few weeks, the failure rate improved tenfold, dropping from 1 in 1000 to 1 in 10,000. That’s the power of commitment versus involvement.

As leaders, if we can move people from involvement to commitment, we can achieve similarly impressive results.

If you want to learn more about creating highly engaged teams or being a better leader click the link to view our course.