Gung Ho! is a very easy to read book which can be finished in an afternoon. What I liked most about Gung Ho! is the simplicity of its message and the authors’ use of easy-to-grasp animal behaviors to illustrate the three core principles that it teaches: Spirit of the Squirrel, The Way of the Beaver, The Gift of the Goose.
I am only able to give Gung Ho! three stars since I found the explanation of the three principles fairly high level and generic. I feel that some of the most challenging aspects of transforming a workplace/organization such as defining group values are superficially glossed over in the story. For me, Gung Ho! could delve deeper into more practical aspects of transforming an organization by linking these three principles with contemporary concepts such as psychological safety, inclusion etc.
Another question that came to mind when reading Gung Ho! is whether the three principles are universally applicable to all companies/industries or are they perhaps better suited to particular ones. For instance, the definition of shared goals (part of Spirit of the Squirrel), might work better in companies in which there are natural inter-dependencies between workers such as in production at a factory (e.g., car manufacturing), or a service industry (e.g., in commercial aviation – offloading and loading an aircraft after it lands). In these situations, if someone messes everybody is affected, and therefore everyone has a clear vested interest in meeting the shared goals.
However, I am sceptical that common goal sharing can be as effective in situations in which individuals work independently of each other and the shared goals are artificially imposed (e.g., in a research environment). This is analogous to the difference between the work of a pilot and a surgeon. A pilot has a clear interest in not crashing an aircraft since she runs the risk of losing her life, while a surgeon has no such risk. A surgeon does not risk losing her life if her patient dies. Apart from this aspect, I found the frequent use of “Indian speak” in Gung Ho! a bit stereotypical and denigrating to Native American Indian people. Perhaps this is more my personal taste, however, this may be something that some readers are sensitive to and should, therefore, be aware of before choosing to read this book.
Overall, Gung Ho! is a worthwhile book to read if you are looking to transform your company.