Book Review: Engage the Fox

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

By Jen Lawrence and Larry Chester

201 pages

The big idea: The use of animal stories to illustrate issues of morality and ethics is as old as the ancient Greeks, but it’s a fairly unusual concept for a business book. Nevertheless, Jen Lawrence and Larry Chester use a cast of various woodland critters to illustrate how a solid decision making process allows any leader to minimize risk and maximize staff buy-in for difficult choices. Hedgehog, CEO of distressed newspaper The Toad Hollow Gazette faces near-certain ruin when his top advertising clients collude to demand a crippling discount. Things look up when Hedgehog meets Fox, a business consultant, while drowning his sorrows at a bar. Guided by Fox’s four-step, group-based decision making process, The Toad Hollow Gazette’s leadership team uses a single afternoon meeting to craft a strategy that will fend off disaster and put the business on a path to growth.

Read it: While the decision making model outlined here is complex, it’s made easier to digest by the storytelling format. And no matter what kind of business you’re running, the process outlined here will make sure you’ve considered all the options ahead of a tough decision, and that you have the buy-in of the key stakeholders.

Skip it: The decision making process is easy enough to follow as you read through it, but the multiple steps involved make it tough to internalize. And if you haven’t done that (or you’re not a natural explainer), it could be a tough sell in front of a conference room crowd.  CEO


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