Engage the Fox is being used as a textbook to teach strategic thinking at Case Western University, Wilkes University, and The University of Toronto.
If you are a business person or involved in business I highly recommend it.
— Manny Paiva, Host, 560 CFOS-AM
Engage the Fox is a delightful read and thought-provoking look at critical thinking. If you’re interested in improving your decision-making ability, I recommend it highly.
—Michael Hlinka, Business Commentator, CBC Radio
Through the vehicle of a witty narrative, Engage The Fox makes a complex subject understandable. Through the cast of characters they assemble the complex topic of business problem solving suddenly comes alive. And they manage to weave in complex topics of neuroscience, human behaviour, decision making and personality preferences. This all wrapped around a business challenge where the reader is curious to know the outcome. The book is packed with insight and relevance and will be incredibly helpful to leaders in any organisation.
—Andrew O’Keeffe, author of Hardwired Humans
Engage the Fox puts the fun back into critical thinking. The creative use of a fable illuminates the variety of personalities and approaches that we face daily on decisions we make. The reader gets seduced into the plot and begins to think more deeply and widely about the process of thinking. This thoughtfully structured book offers an excellent foundation for understanding the stages of rational thought, and provides the requisite tools and frameworks.
Invest in yourself, read this engaging story and enjoy increased confidence in your decision making.
—Lynn Nicolai , Desjardins Group
Engage the Fox offers a very simple, enjoyable read that will help the reader understand, learn and apply critical thinking skills to their work and life. They will be able to make and successfully implement better and more effective strategic and operational decisions.
As a student of critical thinking I developed enhanced business and political acumen allowing me to train my own students to negotiate more effectively and to better manage conflict.
—Hind Kabawat, Conflict Management Expert, Senior Program Officer for Syria, United States Institute for Peace
A superb book with an engaging storyline! Engage the Fox succeeds in teaching the reader to effectively understand and apply a critical thinking process to achieve better results.
—Lea-Ann Lovatsis-Toor, Organizational Development Manager
‘You are going to love this clever story-telling technique for teaching critical thinking skills. In an age where software tools provide us with all the answers at our fingertips, Engage the Fox teaches us about the thought complexity that leads to asking the right question.
—Malcolm Gabriel, Sr. Manager, Human Resources, Post Foods, Battle Creek, MI
A Fabulous Insight Into Better Decision Making
Lessons are learned as foxy consultant gets woodland menagerie to work as a team
Even if you usually don’t enjoy reading business books, you are going to enjoy Engage the Fox.
This is a very cleverly written allegory about how to be more critical in your thinking and make better decisions.
Not long ago I was bewailing my own lack of critical thinking skills and along comes the perfect teaching tool, a book that is entertaining, easy to read and packed with insights about how to make better strategic and operational decisions.
Authors Jen Lawrence and Larry Chester are both Canadians. Lawrence hails from Oakville, Ont., and Chester is an instructor at the University of Toronto, where he teaches a course in critical thinking. He is also the founder of Process Design Consultants, where Jen is a principal. Together they make a very good writing team.
I’ve read a lot of business fables that seem contorted in an effort to make a point, but in Engage the Fox, the plot flows in a totally believable and engaging manner so that a complex subject becomes more understandable, without any effort on the reader’s part.
The fable is about a newspaper, run by a team of wildlife creatures, and like many newspapers today the company is heading for trouble. The cast of characters include Toad Senior, the owner and Toad Junior, the light of his father’s life.
Hedgehog, the publisher and our hero, has a host of woodland creatures on his team, but he can’t get a handle on what he can do to keep his newspaper afloat. That’s when he engages consultant Thaddeus P. Fox, who takes on the task of helping the team make one of the most critical decisions they’ve ever had to make.
I should explain that Engage the Fox makes great use of one of my favourite teaching tools, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. While the use of the indicator enhances the learning for me, readers will not need to understand that tool to think more deeply about the decision-making process.
As we meet the Rabbit, Squirrel, Owl and Dog, we are also introduced to their very different personalities, and the strengths these personalities bring to the situation they are facing, as well as some of the ways each personality type can get in its own way.
The critical thinking process the fox teaches them to use is familiar to most of us: the team is asked to gather information, generate solutions, evaluate these solutions to see which one will be best suited to the problem at hand and then agree on the decision to be made.
Of course every step presents its own problems: the tendency to “go it alone” rather than involve the whole team, short-circuiting the process of identifying options, which means they may not even have the best solution there to be evaluated, and, lastly, the challenge of reaching agreement on what is to be done.
By this time I was totally hooked and curious to know what the outcome would be. The whole process is laid out for us to learn from and there is a short and amusing epilogue to just wrap things up nicely for the reader.
All in all, Engage the Fox is fun, with the bonus that the reader can learn a great deal from it. I heartily recommend it.
—Kaye Parker, Business Bookshelf, The Chronicle Herald
Book Review: Engage the Fox
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.
When the four biggest advertisers in the Toad Hollow Gazette band together to demand a big cut to the newspaper’s advertising rates, the newspaper’s publisher, Hedgehog, is left with an awkward dilemma of the type faced by many business leaders in the face of digital disruption and the other forces which are making it harder to run a profitable business. The outcome of Hedgehog’s dilemma is described in the allegory by Jen Lawrence and Larry Chester, Engage the Fox: A Business Fable About Thinking Critically and Motivating Your Team.
According to ancient Greek wisdom, the Hedgehog knows one big thing, while the Fox knows many things. This makes the Hedgehog good at running a stable business in his field of expertise, but when he encounters uncertain times he is often blinded into thinking that only one or two obvious courses of action are available. This is where he needs to consult the Fox, who can generate numerous options which the Hedgehog would have overlooked.
Hedgehog and his team, with the guidance of Fox, eventually come up with a non-obvious solution to their dilemma as the result of working through the authors’ critical thinking process, which involves gathering information before making a decision, generating ideas using a fresh perspective, evaluating options using a logic-driven process, and agreeing at each stage of the process.
The allegory provides an engaging and compelling vehicle for presenting the critical thinking framework advocated by the authors. Rather than simply describing the framework, the book shows how it can be used to achieve a creative result which would have been overlooked by normal decision-making processes.
- How and differ.
- How people can reactively and proactively identify and resolve today’s most complex business issues.
- The four kinds of thinking that lead to better solutions.
- How to avoid making assumptions and jumping to conclusions.
- Why organizational success is a function of how well its people think and perform.
In Engage the Fox, authors Jen Lawrence and Larry Chester build on the four-stage thinking process they teach their students at the University of Toronto.
The process can be used for simple decisions, such as whether you want to get a cup of coffee, or complicated decisions, such as setting a new organizational strategy… [click for full summary]