Yarger creates a charming business fable using short stories and tales based on gardening to teach leadership and management principles.
John’s business is failing, and insomnia has taken hold. Fortunately, his neighbor, Jean, is an early riser, a master gardener and a wise business coach. By observing the interactions among the animals in her garden, Jean’s learned the behaviors that lead to success in an organization, and she’s happy to share her wisdom with John. As the two enjoy coffee on the patio, Jean introduces John to a talking rabbit named Jenkins who’s assumed responsibility for ensuring peace and harmony in the garden. Over the course of six mornings with Jenkins, John learns of the importance of six topics: vision, values, trust, priorities, assumptions and leadership. With Jean’s help, he begins to turn his company around. The topics are treated separately in six chapters beginning with a story from the garden that serves as a parable, which is followed by practical guidelines and charts to refine the reader’s understanding of the subject matter. Yarger emphasizes that individuals in an organization usually demonstrate good behavior when they understand and assimilate its vision and share its values. Lack of trust, according to the author, is a key cause of most team failure and usually demonstrates that an individual is not committed to the organization’s values. To make the point, Yarger tells of the escapades of Bip-n-Bop, two chipmunks; Chip, a little black mouse; along with Einstein, an owl. All embark on a misadventure that eventually leads to the creation of trust and shared values within the group. Although the storytelling is, at times, somewhat simplified in its approach to complex organizational problems, the author follows up each story with practical sections that should facilitate good discussions in corporate settings. While there are some nuggets of wisdom for business readers, at times the guide feels like a patchwork of ideas rather than a whole cloth woven from a single thread. The fable lacks a plot that resonates (contrast Og Mandino’s The Greatest Salesman in the World), and thus it reads more like a collection of short stories striving (sometimes unsuccessfully) to illustrate business organization principles. Regrettably, this makes the lessons in the guide somewhat forgettable.
A lighthearted business fable—à la Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit and his misadventures in Mr. McGregor’s garden—with solid lessons for leaders seeking to breed success within their organization.