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Engage the Fox: A Business Fable about Thinking Critically and Motivating Your Team

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A more-than-memorable allegory that will teach you to embrace change, develop superior critical-thinking skills, and solve any problem that comes your way by using teamwork.  Engage the Fox is a charismatic business fable set at a newspaper run by publisher Hedgehog,  and his executive team of woodland creatures. When met with a difficult decision regarding where the newspa A more-than-memorable allegory that will teach you to embrace change, develop superior critical-thinking skills, and solve any problem that comes your way by using teamwork.  Engage the Fox is a charismatic business fable set at a newspaper run by publisher Hedgehog,  and his executive team of woodland creatures. When met with a difficult decision regarding where the newspaper industry is headed, as well as pressure to give discounts to their top advertisers, Hedgehog engages consultant Thaddeus P. Fox to teach the team at The Toad Hollow Gazette how to make important decisions. By thinking critically and utilizing the different personality types present in the office, the team learns to see the big picture and tap the energy and imagination of everyone. The animals portrayed here, by their very nature, represent different aspects of the human personality as illustrated in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Sensing sales manager Squirrel is adept at gathering information; feeling Animal relations director Dog is keen on seeking agreement amongst the pack; thinking finance director Owl needs to know the entirety of a situation before settling on a decision; and intuitive consultant Fox can think up an endless amount of ideas for solving problems.  The authors base their book on Lawrence Chester’s popular course in critical thinking that helps participants identify the cause of problems large and small and generate better, more implementable solutions. That process incorporates four key critical thinking skills that businesspeople can develop to help them evaluate their options as they learn how to manage complex, messy issues in a systematic way that ensures stakeholder buy-in and increases their success rate.  Lawrence and Chester have created an entertaining imaginary world where the memorable management team that has lived and breathed their industry for decades “engages the fox” as they undergo a strategic shift. They recognize the need to involve someone with an outside perspective who is adept at navigating change. Enter the hero, for, as is often quoted in management and political theory, “The fox knows many things; the hedgehog one big thing.” Literally and figuratively, it seems. 


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A more-than-memorable allegory that will teach you to embrace change, develop superior critical-thinking skills, and solve any problem that comes your way by using teamwork.  Engage the Fox is a charismatic business fable set at a newspaper run by publisher Hedgehog,  and his executive team of woodland creatures. When met with a difficult decision regarding where the newspa A more-than-memorable allegory that will teach you to embrace change, develop superior critical-thinking skills, and solve any problem that comes your way by using teamwork.  Engage the Fox is a charismatic business fable set at a newspaper run by publisher Hedgehog,  and his executive team of woodland creatures. When met with a difficult decision regarding where the newspaper industry is headed, as well as pressure to give discounts to their top advertisers, Hedgehog engages consultant Thaddeus P. Fox to teach the team at The Toad Hollow Gazette how to make important decisions. By thinking critically and utilizing the different personality types present in the office, the team learns to see the big picture and tap the energy and imagination of everyone. The animals portrayed here, by their very nature, represent different aspects of the human personality as illustrated in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Sensing sales manager Squirrel is adept at gathering information; feeling Animal relations director Dog is keen on seeking agreement amongst the pack; thinking finance director Owl needs to know the entirety of a situation before settling on a decision; and intuitive consultant Fox can think up an endless amount of ideas for solving problems.  The authors base their book on Lawrence Chester’s popular course in critical thinking that helps participants identify the cause of problems large and small and generate better, more implementable solutions. That process incorporates four key critical thinking skills that businesspeople can develop to help them evaluate their options as they learn how to manage complex, messy issues in a systematic way that ensures stakeholder buy-in and increases their success rate.  Lawrence and Chester have created an entertaining imaginary world where the memorable management team that has lived and breathed their industry for decades “engages the fox” as they undergo a strategic shift. They recognize the need to involve someone with an outside perspective who is adept at navigating change. Enter the hero, for, as is often quoted in management and political theory, “The fox knows many things; the hedgehog one big thing.” Literally and figuratively, it seems. 

30 review for Engage the Fox: A Business Fable about Thinking Critically and Motivating Your Team

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Lewis

    For a long time, I've known my critical thinking skills aren't what they could be. I'm easily swayed by mediocre arguments and often jump into commitments without thinking through the alternatives... or the consequences. I'm aware of these weaknesses but have struggled to mitigate them. At one point, I bought a critical thinking textbook, but (not shockingly) it was academic and not especially engaging, and I got bogged down and missed any practical value it might have offered. And then I got the For a long time, I've known my critical thinking skills aren't what they could be. I'm easily swayed by mediocre arguments and often jump into commitments without thinking through the alternatives... or the consequences. I'm aware of these weaknesses but have struggled to mitigate them. At one point, I bought a critical thinking textbook, but (not shockingly) it was academic and not especially engaging, and I got bogged down and missed any practical value it might have offered. And then I got the opportunity to read a review copy of "Engage the Fox." The premise (a business fable! with woodland creatures!) seemed a little goofy but simultaneously unintimidating, and after reading it, I'd say that initial impression was upheld but also backed with solid ideas and real-world usefulness. My favorite thing about this book is that the authors showed the power of their critical thinking process by tackling a genuinely difficult problem. With a lot of business fables (and heck, fiction in general), situations seem contrived, and you think to yourself, "Well, sure, it would be easy to solve problems if all your ducks were in a row like that." But throughout the first few chapters, I was right there with Hedgehog in thinking the situation was a no-win scenario. Despite the sometimes-silly animal references, the book methodically (and entertainingly) guides the reader through real-life application of the critical thinking process—starting with a seemingly intractable problem, getting clear on the actual problem, generating and evaluating potential solutions based on the desired outcome, making good decisions, and implementing them as workable solutions. Even though the process is fairly involved, it's arranged in a logical framework, so it's easy to understand and work through. There are a lot of diagrams, many of which are shown repetitively—this might bother some readers, but I found it much more convenient than constantly flipping back to reference the information presented earlier, and the narrative isn't repetitive, just the diagrams. This clear presentation, combined with a mnemonic, the solid underlying framework, and ample examples of how it works in the real world—all work together to create a process I'm confident I can follow. One more recommendation: for more on the decision-making process specifically, you may want to also pick up "Decisive" by Dan Heath and Chip Heath. The two books have a little bit of overlap, but the focus is different enough to give a well-rounded approach, and I appreciated seeing some of the same ideas covered from complementary angles. Note: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Avolyn Fisher

    Who doesn't love a business fable? Easy to follow, relatable, digestible, usually a quick read. For many reasons I was impressed by this book. Initially I was skeptical of the plot given that the entire list of characters are actually animals. The story line is relatable as it outlines the challenges that a newspaper faces in an industry that's dying or largely taking a hit and struggling to continue with the classic business model it has operated under for years. I can relate to the challenges Who doesn't love a business fable? Easy to follow, relatable, digestible, usually a quick read. For many reasons I was impressed by this book. Initially I was skeptical of the plot given that the entire list of characters are actually animals. The story line is relatable as it outlines the challenges that a newspaper faces in an industry that's dying or largely taking a hit and struggling to continue with the classic business model it has operated under for years. I can relate to the challenges faced in an evolving industry as I myself work in insurance which is vastly changing with the competitive atmosphere and increased automation. We can all relate, the rate at which anything becomes obsolete is much more frequent than it was 100 years ago. However for me, I did feel a slight disconnect in trying to relate the fable to my professional career. While the basic models and business principals are presented in a classicly broad sense, the actual story gets a little lost in the weeds. There are situations that work themselves out in the story that seem overly convenient rather than due to the implementation of the model. I also felt that the story line is centered around a business operation that is relatively small. The main characters work in an organization of 30 employees or less and participate in a meeting involving the top employees and decision makers of the company.Meanwhile I work at a company of 30,000 and even my region has 400 people and a lot of our problem solving ideas can't be implemented because the decision makers to approve or implement the changes are over halfway across the country. But even if I imagine myself having the power one day that the main characters have in this book, I don't feel that the suggested outline was ground breaking nor do I feel that it is failure proof (I know nothing is) but I just feel business fables have an uncanny way of always working themselves out. They're business fairy tales. But for many people this is a preferred method for digesting business books and may be very helpful. I was impressed by the wittiness of the author, the humor presented and the complex story line.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Marcia Powell

    I liked the analogy format of this book, and the way that that characters struggled throughout the challenge. As a learning professional, I was able to apply this to the change process in the educational industry and think about how we have to adapt to the conditions we find ourself given. There were no easy answers, but lots of psychological adaptations that were worthwhile for me to consider.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Casey

    A well written guide to simple decision making. Creative and engaging, with a parable filled with relatable characters who help you see a need to improve your skills and act on new opportunities wisely. A must read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nathalie Karasek

    May the process be with you ;-) Nice read, nice process

  6. 5 out of 5

    Brenten Gilbert

    RATING 3.67 STARS Quick read, appropriately repetitive, and a good (anthropomorphized) discussion of critical thinking, analysis, and decision making. (And a huge plug for hiring a consultant.)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    Super hate the twee business fable style, but it was memorable and gave me some new food for thought for leadership, especially in the context of problem solving & meetings.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Karynne

    One of my absolute favourites. I have a hard time committing to a book but I finished this cover-to-cover in one sitting. I'd read it again and again. Cute, funny, smart & well thought out.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bd

    I finally found a readable business book. I have half-read dozens of business books in the last few years. They often have a single premise and repeat it many times. Half way through the book, I am bored and add the book to a pile of 'finish it later' reads. Engage the Fox is different. The business lessons are woven throughout an interesting story that captures your attention. Instead of simply throwing the facts in your face, the author has managed to entertain the reader whilst educating the I finally found a readable business book. I have half-read dozens of business books in the last few years. They often have a single premise and repeat it many times. Half way through the book, I am bored and add the book to a pile of 'finish it later' reads. Engage the Fox is different. The business lessons are woven throughout an interesting story that captures your attention. Instead of simply throwing the facts in your face, the author has managed to entertain the reader whilst educating the reader. I took away the messages and have been able to incorporate the learning into my work and personal life. But I also wanted to read it to the end. I wanted to know what happened to that Fox. Never thought a business book would be an easy read!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Homer16

    I actually won this book in a giveaway! Very engaging book. Easy to read and very enjoyable. Thank you!

  11. 5 out of 5

    YAHYA

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mosa

  13. 5 out of 5

    John

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rithesh

  15. 4 out of 5

    Art Bingham

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andy Glaser

  17. 5 out of 5

    Christopher Birkhofer

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jen Lawrence

  19. 5 out of 5

    Iñaki Escudero

  20. 5 out of 5

    Irfaan

  21. 5 out of 5

    Matt Fox

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kyon

  23. 4 out of 5

    Catherine Crumber

  24. 5 out of 5

    Andy Siklos

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mikke

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shirley Ang

  27. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kraig

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jeff

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jim Serger

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