(this article has been edited and shortened)
The metamorphosis of the caterpillar into the butterfly represents a story of transformation, pain and beauty, all rolled into one `case study'.
(This article is based on the author's book, The Case of the Bonsai Manager, published by Penguin Portfolio this month. The second of a three-part series.)
The word metamorphosis from biology refers to the insect's life cycle, which sees a complete change of body form and appearance. This process is controlled by a balance of hormones. Companies too have `hormones' which control the change processes in the organization.
Life for the butterfly starts as a tiny egg; the adult female lays eggs among leaves that are rich in the nutrients required by the insect. The egg hatches and there emerges a caterpillar, which marks the second stage.
The caterpillar begins to feed and grow. The joints between its body segments distend and this activates hormones. The caterpillar huffs and puffs as its skin splits and the worm-like insect steps out of its skin. It begins eating again, non-stop and without pause until the process is repeated, in all, five times. The animal puts on an enormous amount of weight during these `feasting' sessions. During this time, the insect gains 3,000 times its original hatching weight— the equivalent of a four kg baby becoming 12,000 kg among humans!
In the third stage, it becomes a pupa. To a bird or a lizard, pupae are a convenience food--nicely packaged, immobile, and full of nutrients, like the original energy bar!
Inside the pupa, a remarkable transformation happens during which the caterpillar's cells and tissues rearrange themselves to form the adult butterfly. The wing disks grow the antennae needed to suck up nectar. The simple eye dissolves and in its place a new and complex eye develops. Legs lengthen and add segments.
In stage four, it is almost ready to emerge. Soon this beauty emerges with its delicate and gorgeously covered wings. It is a story of transformation, pain and beauty, all rolled into one `case study.'
If a caterpillar had the brain of a human, would it sign up for the stress of such a painful transformation?
The truth is that knowing what is to be done does not lead to action. Preparedness for pain, courage and motivation to undertake the journeys are all essential before there can be positive action.