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2. A dynamic change-agent with skills in: ¨
(b) Developing human resources

Andrews University


David Heise

Student No:



EDUC689 Seminar: Personnel Management EDCI665 Advanced Instructional


Read and Reflect on:

"Gung Ho!  Turn on the People in Any Organization"

by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles

Due Date:

Summer, 1999


The Three Principles


The book Gung Ho! by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles [1] presents a simple but powerful technique for tapping into the latent energy of the members of a team or group.  The subtitle of the book is "Turn On the People in Any Organization".  When applied, the principles of this book  can result in a double benefit - increased productivity as well as greatly improved enthusiasm and morale.  The secret to achieving these almost miraculous results is presented in the form of an easy to read story, making it not only very readable but also quite compelling in terms of the message being conveyed.

In the following summary of the book, the superscript numbers preceded by the letter "p" give the page references in Gung Ho!

The Three Principles

The Spirit of the Squirrel

Worthwhile Workp27

Fulfills Godís Plan for the Forestp30

Right Workp31

The Way of the Beaver

In Control of Achieving The Goalp76

Fulfills Godís Plan for the Beaverp83

the Right Wayp78

The Gift of the Goose

Cheering Each Other Onp133

Godís Gift We Give Each Otherp136

for the Right Rewardp137

To achieve the state of gung ho (Chinese for 'working together'p63) requires that all three of these principles are put into effect.  Moreover, each one builds on the previous one, so they have to be developed in sequence, not all at once.

The Spirit of the Squirrel

Worthwhile Work

Squirrels work hard because they are motivated by a goal, and the goal is to have enough food to survive winter.  There are three lessons to learn in understanding the Spirit of the Squirrel.

  1. The work has to be understood as important.  It makes the world a better place.
  2. It has to lead to well understood and shared goals.
  3. Values have to guide all the plans, decisions and actions.p56

The first lesson highlights the importance of "right work"p31.  Work needs to be looked at in terms of human impact, not units dealt withp33.  Understanding how your work fits into the big picture is important for self-esteem, and that's the beginning of Gung Ho.p35

The goals must be clearly understood by the team members, but more than that, for the goals to be shared goals, the team must buy in to the goals, they must commit to them.  "Goals are marker posts you drive into the future landscape between where you are and where you want to be.  They focus attention productively."p42

Goals and values have complimentary roles.  "Importance and goals get people going.  It's the values that sustain the effort."p42  The values guide, they set the rules.  You can insist that people respect certain values, but you cannot force them to commit to goals.

Goals Values
for the future for now
are set are lived
can change are fixed

Support for goals is based on trust.  "As mutual trust rises, support for goals will increase."p50

The Way of the Beaver

In Control of Achieving The Goal

While squirrels are well motivated, and work hard to achieve their worthwhile goals, more is needed to achieve Gung Ho.  When beavers are working together to repair a broken dam, each beaver knows what has to be done, and is not dictated to regarding how to go about it.  They are free to exercise their own best judgment.  This is "doing right work the right way".p78

Again, there are three lessons to be learned:

  1. A playing field with clearly marked territory.
  2. Thoughts, feelings, needs, and dreams are respected, listened to, and acted upon.
  3. Able but challengedp93

The leader's job is to know where the organization is going, by setting keys goals and values.  It is the team members' job to get you there, and that means "you have to get off the field and let the players move the ball."p79  Team members have to be free to take charge, and this can only happen when they know that the boss is not going to step in and take over.p80

The Spirit of the Squirrel addresses the needs of society.  The Way of the Beaver addresses the needs of the individual and his/her relationship to the organization.  This is done through a spirit of honesty and openness.

The work needs to be within the person's training and capacity, but still sufficiently challenging so that they know they are earning their pay.  "Nothing demeans faster than getting something for nothing."p89

The Gift of the Goose

Cheering Each Other On

The gift of the goose has to do with the honking sound that geese make.  Each of the previous two animals make sounds, but for different purposes.  "Squirrels chattered away to scold the world.  Beavers whacked tails to send warning messages".p132  But the geese honk simply to cheer each other on.  The Gift of the Goose brings enthusiasm.  All geese honk.  It is God's gift we give each other.  Everyone can be involved in cheering each other on.

People are rewarded in two ways: cash and congratulations.  This can be stated by reapplying Einstein's formula relating mass and energy:

E = mc2

"Enthusiasm equals mission times cash and congratulations"p138

Congratulations let people know that "they are making a valuable contribution toward achieving the shared mission - right work done the right way.  Spirit of he Squirrel.  Way of the Beaver."p139

Affirmations can be active as well as passive, but above all, they must be TRUE, that is, genuine, but also:

T Timely
R Responsive
U Unconditional
E Enthusiasticp144

The three lessons from the Gift of the Goose are:

  1. Active or passive, congratulations must be TRUE.
  2. No Score, no game, and cheer the progress.
  3. e = mc2 - Enthusiasm equals mission times cash and congratulations.p150

Lesson number two is based the fact that the enthusiastic cheering of sports fans at a basketball game is because progress is being monitored.  If no score is being kept, you don't have a game anyone is going to get enthusiastic about.


Staff look for values and a vision that is sufficiently well stated that they are then able understand management's expectations of them.  The goals have to be well understood as well as shared.  I recently attended a seminar by Robert Cooper on Emotional Intelligence, where the point was made that we ought to polish the areas where people excel, looking for what "puts a light in their eyes", rather than concentrating on improving their weaknesses.  Blanchard makes a similar point about taking "advantage of natural behavior" on page 81.

The process for implementing these three principles is to start with a small group, and as the excitement grows, add a few more to the groupp55.  Eventually, the members of the team need to see themselves and the organization as one and the same entity.p65  What this means in practical terms is that the individuals on the team take control, rather than blaming the state of affairs on senior administration and waiting for "them" to fix it.  The individuals are the organization.

I really enjoyed reading this book, and already I have shared many of its concepts with members of my team.  It would be just great to work with a group that fully embraced the Gung Ho principles.  But even if I don't achieve that highly desirable state, this book is already having an impact, and because its principles are simple yet compelling, I am sure the impact of this book will continue to grow.

[1] Blanchard, K. and S. Bowles (1998). Gung Ho!  Turn on the People in Any Organization. New York, William Morrow and Co, Inc.

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Created: Tuesday, January 04, 2000 04:03 PM 
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