GB500: Business Perspectives
January 2, 2012
Case Analysis: Tip of the Iceberg
The Tip of the Iceberg is a humorous story that describes how unseen forces can affect the outcomes of a situation. The penguins lived on a small iceberg which hovered over a huge clam bed. The clam bed beneath the iceberg could provide food for the all of the penguins living on the iceberg for years to come. However, the clam bed was essentially useless because the penguins could not dive deep enough beneath the iceberg to retrieve the clams, but the walruses that lived nearby could. So, the penguins devised a system that could help them with their goal of harvesting the clam bed. The system included the iceberg, the clam bed, the penguins, and the walruses. The purpose of the system was to produce a new food source for both penguins and walruses (Hutchens, 2001). The penguins met with the walruses and negotiated a protocol that basically stated that the walruses would harvest the clams and in return could eat all of the clams that they wanted but couldn’t eat the penguins. The system developed by the penguins sought stability by inviting the walruses to harvest the clams so penguins would never have to endure another harsh winter without food. Initially the system worked well and everyone was happy. The walruses brought up the clams and both walruses and penguins had plenty to eat. Other penguins heard about the iceberg and the “all-you-can eat” protocol between the walruses and penguins and soon showed up to enjoy the tasty clams. The penguins recruited more walruses so they could harvest even more clams and more penguins came to the iceberg. The system had entered a reinforcing process that escalated into a virtuous cycle. All of this worked well for a while, but soon infighting between the walruses and penguins occurred. Reports that walruses had sat on penguins...