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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Ken Blanchard's talent for articulating accessible solutions to the complex problems of the workplace has propelled his many books, including Gung Ho! and Raving Fans, to the top of bestseller lists everywhere. This book, as the subtitle suggests, focuses on the importance of motivating others through positive feedback, an idea Blanchard develops by drawing an analogy between the essentials of human performance and that of the killer whales at SeaWorld.
The story (the book is told as a kind of parable, a method familiar to readers of Blanchard's work as well as that of his One Minute Manager coauthor, Spencer Johnson) begins when Wes Kingsley, disappointed in the relationships he has developed both at the office and at home, tries to discover how the SeaWorld trainers are able to coach such extraordinary work from their animals. Wes's first guess, that the whales know they will be denied food if they don't meet certain expectations, neatly summarizes his attitude toward others: He comes from a school that gives plenty of attention to catching people's failings but doesn't really attempt to feed their natural hunger for attention and recognition. Wes's last name also expresses his character. He's a king, accustomed to dominating, judging, and ruling -- activities that leave little space for the kind of positive relationships that nourish and sustain high levels of performance.
Whale Done! continues to chart Wes's progress toward a happier, more productive mode of connecting himself to others. He learns that the secret to training the whales lies in redirecting their focus away from negative behaviors and toward desired achievements; he meets management expert Anne Marie Butler (unlike a king, a butler is a facilitator and a guide), who teaches him the ABC's of helping people achieve their goals; he improves his home life by teaching his family how to catch each other doing something right; and finally, he learns to take control by working with people instead of simply berating them. Admirers of Blanchard's earlier books will appreciate this easy-to-read but pithy fable, which offers a powerful formula for positive and effective engagement with the other folks in our lives. (Sunil Sharma)