Gung Ho!

Summary Written by Chris Taylor

The Big Idea

Who Comes First?

"Customers came right after the team members. The work of an organization is to look after customers, but the reason the organization exists in the first place is to serve the people who work there, as well as the community they live in."- Gung Ho!, page 54

Any activity you’re involved in (work in particular) is about the people who do it first and foremost. Customers are important, suppliers are important, but the mental shift should be towards providing an environment that empowers and instills passion in the people around you. Customers and suppliers are drawn to Gung Ho cultures. Build an environment that fosters motivated teammates and the success will follow.

The animals tie in like this…

Insight #1

Squirrels Have Worthwhile Work

"One of the fastest and surest ways to feel good about yourself is to understand how your work fits into the big picture. When you feel good about yourself, well, that’s the beginning of Gung Ho."- Gung Ho!, page 35

Squirrels gather nuts all day because they inherently understand that if they don’t, they won’t survive the winter. Their lives, and the lives of their families depend on them. That gives their work purpose.

What does your work provide to your life and the lives of the people around you – your family and community? Forget about dollars and cents for a minute. What are you and your organization contributing to the world? How do your specific actions factor into that purpose? If you don’t have an answer right away, I encourage you to take some time to discuss this with your co-workers, friends and family.

Blanchard and Bowles suggest that every job provides value to mankind in some way. What would happen if your role didn’t exist? If your industry didn’t exist? In Gung Ho!, the example used is of a dishwasher at a school cafeteria. Imagine that was your job. You could focus on the fact that you have a never-ending pile of dishes to clean, or you could focus on the fact that without your role the students would run a higher risk of contracting bacteria or disease from unclean dishes and utensils.

Every role has its purpose. What’s yours?

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Insight #2

No Boss Beaver

"Grandfather said the Great Spirit painted a picture in the beavers’ head of what a perfect dam looked like, gave them a stream and some trees, and then put them in charge by leaving them alone."- Gung Ho!, page 80

Beavers are pretty cool creatures. If you ever have the opportunity to see them build a dam, I encourage you to take a few minutes to watch them in their work. There’s no “boss beaver” – no one giving direction or dictating how things need to be done. Instead, there’s a group of individuals, each working in their own way towards a predetermined vision of excellence. The next time you’re in a team setting, spend some time clearly defining your values and your goals, then get started. Don’t worry about precisely how you’re going to get there, and certainly don’t try to dictate it to your team (if you have one). People often times get too wrapped up in planning specific “how to’s” and procedure. Teams are best utilized when everyone is contributing, in their own way, towards one specific outcome. Most rules and regulations are simply second rate alternatives to a clear, collective vision.

There was one last animal in the fable that is absolutely worth a mention. The “Way of the Goose” is the third piece to the puzzle. Ultimately the way of the Goose is about encouragement and reward for committed people working on worthwhile tasks towards collective goals. While we don’t have time to go into it here, you can learn more about the “Way of The Goose” here.

I could spend the next six months talking about Gung Ho!, and if you’re in a leadership position, I absolutely encourage you to pick up a copy. For today’s purposes, we’ll end our discussion on two points:

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Ken Blanchard

Few people have influenced the day-to-day management of people and companies more than Ken Blanchard. A prominent, sought-after author, speaker, and business consultant, Dr. Blanchard is universally characterized by his friends, colleagues, and clients as one of the most insightful, powerful, and compassionate individuals in business today. Ken is one of the most influential leadership experts in the world and is respected for his years of groundbreaking work in the fields of leadership and management.

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