Jun 072007

Book Short: Shamu-rific

Book Short:  Shamu-rific

I re-read an old favorite last night in preparation for a management training course I’m co-teaching today at Return Path:  Ken Blanchard’s Whale Done! The Power of Positive Relationships.  I was reminded why it’s an old favorite.  It has a single concept which is simple but powerful.  And yes, it’s based loosely on killer whale  training tactics.

Accentuate the positive.

The best example in the book is actually a personal one more than a professional one.  The main character of the book has a “problem” in that he chronically works late, then comes home and gets beat up by his wife about coming home so late.  The result?  No behavior change — and probably even a reinforcement of the behavior because, after all, who wants to come home and get beat up?  The change as a result of the new philosophy?  The wife thanks her husband when he does come home at a more reasonable hour, makes him a nice dinner, etc. which makes the husband WANT to come home earlier.

That’s probably a poor paraphrasing of the story, and as I’m typing the story out here, boy does it sound a bit 1950s in terms of its portrayal of gender role stereotypes.  Nonetheless, I think it makes the point well.

Try it out sometime at work (or at home).  Pick a behavior you want to see more of out of a direct report, especially one that’s linked to another behavior you don’t like.  Accentuate the positive.  Make the person WANT to do more of it.  And watch the results!

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