Gung Ho! – K. Blanchard & S. Bowles

Gung Ho! tells the story of Peggy, a manager in an American factory who is set up for failure by being sent from head office to take over operations in a regional factory with a dismal performance. Peggy befriends the Native American man Andy, who runs the finishing department, which has the best performing of all factories. Naturally, Peggy wonders what Andy’s old Indian wisdom is. This philosophy is Gung Ho, and it consists of three principles which are modeled after observations of nature.

  1. The Spirit of the Squirrel: Worthwhile Work

    Why are the squirrels working so hard? Because they are motivated. But what motivates them do eager? In autumn, we can see squirrels busy preparing for winter by gathering acorns. If they don’t store up food for the winter they will die. The squirrels are working hard because their work is worthwhile.

    The first principle The Spirit of the Squirrel is applied to people, by focusing on how their job fits into the big picture, how it is important and adds value, and not simply on units produced. Everyone must be committed to the same clearly understood the goal, like the squirrels, are committed to gathering seeds to survive the winter. Understanding that their work is worthwhile gives employees self-esteem, which is one of the most powerful human emotions.

  2. The Way of the Beaver: In Control of Achieving the Goal

    Just like The Spirit of the Squirrels tells purpose and direction for the goal, The Way of the Beavers describes how work should be done. By observation of watching beavers repairing their dam, each beaver swam back and forth with branches and anchored them to the dam. There is no beaver telling others what to do and nobody undoes the work of another beaver. They trust each other in their dedication towards the common goal of the group. They exercise their own best judgement.

    The second principle The Way of the Beaver is given to people by giving them control over how the goal is achieved. Three suggestions for implementing The Way of the Beaver are: (1) A playing field with clearly market territory, (2) Thoughts, feelings, needs and dreams are respected, listened to and acted upon, (3) Able but challenged.

  3. The Gift of the Goose: Cheering Others On

    When you see a flock of geese flying south for the winter, they flew by in the “V" formation. You will always hear them croak, they were honking away at each other. What were they honking about? What message are they sending each other? They were cheering one another, a gift us humans can learn from them.

    The final principle The Gift of the Goose can be instilled in people by complimenting and celebrating on an ongoing basis, big and small. All of the geese are involved- cheering each other on to achieve their mutual goal. Cheering each other on brings enthusiasm to work. Making sure the congratulations are TRUE (Timely, Responsive, Unconditional and Enthusiastic).

The Gung Ho spirits described in this book are important for all managers, no matter what industry you work in, built a culture of trust, where people cheer and motivate one another in working towards one common goal. As a manager, you can set the example.