Why you can’t create a purple-footed booby

Debunking myths about corporate culture and mergers
By Kurt Browser and Ajay Chadha
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 06/17/2002

In the Galapagos Islands, there lives a species of waterfowl called a booby.

Some boobies have red feet and some have blue feet. A group of inquisitive naturalists once mated red-footed boobies with blue-footed boobies to see what would happen. Would the boobies have one red foot and one blue foot? Or, would purple-footed boobies emerge? To the great disappointment of the naturalists, neither occurred. The hatchlings were either red-footed or blue-footed. It was Mother Nature’s way of saying there is no such thing as a merger of equals. One or the other prevails.

Business unions also tend to be either red or blue (one or the other, not both). Yet many executives believe they can successfully “blend” the best of both organizations. They attempt in fact to create a purple-footed corporate booby.