I am excited about the release of my new book, Gung Ho!, this fall. Co-authored with Sheldon Bowles, with whom I wrote Raving Fans, this book, I feel, will be The One Minute Manager for the 21st century. It tells the story of a manager who turns around a failing manufacturing plant. She is helped by a Native American, who teaches her and everyone in the plant the three inspirational secrets his grandfather taught him.
If you want to create loyal customers, you need empowered employees who think they own the place and can make good decisions even when you're not there. Gung Ho! is about increasing productivity, profits and your own prosperity. It will motivate people in any organization. In the next three columns, I will examine the three secrets, one each month. My hope is that you'll get excited about inspiring your people and creating the best possible organization.
The first Gung Ho! secret is the Spirit of the Squirrel. Peggy Sinclair, our heroine, is asked by Andy Longclaw, her mentor, to watch a group of squirrels gathering nuts outside his grandfather's cabin in the woods. When Andy asks her what she thinks about squirrels, she mentions how hard they work. In fact, she says that if everybody at their plant worked as hard as the squirrels, they could turn the situation around quickly.
Why do squirrels work so hard? Peggy learns that squirrels perform worthwhile work. They gather food not only for themselves but also for others for the winter. The Spirit of the Squirrel fulfills God's plan for the forest, observes Andy.
This first secret contains three main elements. First, it's important that people know they are making the world a better place. Seldom do we help our people analyze their jobs and look at the end results -- how they improve others' quality of life. People want to make a difference; they want to know they perform important work. The key to making this happen is sharing information with people so they understand why things are done a certain way and what part their work plays in the overall scheme.
Second, for the Spirit of the Squirrel to be present, everyone needs to work toward a shared goal. Managers can initiate goals, but unless they generate commitment from the people who must accomplish them, the goals will become meaningless.
The third aspect of the Spirit of the Squirrel is values. In fact, values guide all plans, decisions and actions. Without a sense of purpose and a positive attitude when working toward goals, you risk running an organization where self-interest rules.
The Spirit of the Squirrel is all about the visionary role of leadership. Scriptures say, "Without vision, the people perish." (Proverbs 29:18). Leaders today must begin with a strong vision and a set of positive beliefs that support it; without them, the people they lead will not only lose, they'll be lost. Lacking something to uplift their hearts when difficulties arise, their minds will not be equal to the challenge of achieving their goals.
Realizing this, we recently rethought our mission and values statements at Blanchard Training and Development Inc. We felt that our old mission and values didn't give people the clarity they needed and didn't help them understand how worthwhile their work is.
Our new mission statement is: To unleash the potential and power of people and organizations for the common good.
And here are our new core values statements:
Behave in a legal, fair and balanced manner.
Make and keep our own commitments to customers, colleagues, the company and ourselves.
Contribute to the growth and prosperity of our company through individual, team and total company effort.
Show respect for self and others by being open, honest and truthful, and by resolving conflict.
We will learn, cheer each other on and do worthwhile, high-quality work.
What are your vision and values? Does the Spirit of the Squirrel operate in your workplace?
The Spirit of the Squirrel starts people on the Gung Ho! journey. But this is only the beginning. Next month I'll examine the second secret that will send your energy and that of your people soaring.
About the author
Ken Blanchard is chairman of Blanchard Training and Development Inc. in San Diego and author, with Michael O'Connor, of Managing by Values (Berrett-Koehler, 1996).
© 1997 Blanchard Management Report, Blanchard Training and Development Inc. Telephone (800) 728-6000, ext. 5201, fax (619) 743-5030 or e-mail email@example.com.