Animals' behavior can so often mirror that of humans. Our realization that we could use these behaviors for management stories was serendipitous.
We wrote a frog story for a particular segment of a management development workshop to blend in with some creative visualization based on the sounds of a bull frog. This story, which is included in the book, was very effective in highlighting a major problem that many action-oriented managers have. It prompted us to write many more animal stories which have become this collection of 'management fables'.
We chose animals from all over the world to illustrate management problems: the kookaburra and wombat from Australia; the elephant, chameleon and weaverbird from Africa; the hedgehog and squirrel from the UK; and huskies, beavers and stagecoach horses from North America.
In formulating each chapter we decided to follow a teaching format that has been very successful for us. The first section contains an animal story, the second contains an equivalent management case study and the third draws out the major learning points.
In researching the fable genre we came across many examples of the way stories are used for teaching. We have summarized many of theses and their principles in Part One of the book. After reading Part One, you may read the rest of the chapters in any order. Pick any animal that interests you and discover the application to the world of management.
C.S. Lewis said that "we read to know we are not alone". How true this is! Perhaps when reading through this book you will recognize managers you have worked with and maybe even yourself! For example, the wombat was written to illustrate one of our own management styles. (No prizes are offered for guessing who!) It is a favorite animal of ours and often misunderstood.
The original Aesop's fables were a collection of stories attributed to the Greek slave Aesop who lived around 600BC. Most of the characters are animals that talk and act like human beings and illustrate the failings and virtues of human nature in a simple, often humorous way. Perhaps the best known of Aesop's fables is 'The tortoise and the hare'. Similarly we have described the failings of managers we have met or worked with, by associating their behavior with an appropriate animal.
Copyright © Dick McCann and Jan Stewart 1997