Not so long ago I finished a book with the intriguing title “Winnie-the-Pooh on Management”. The publication is written in genuine A.A. Milne style and the content covers what the subtitle says: “In which a Very Important Bear and his friends are introduced to a Very Important Subject”.
Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter:
“How can I help you?” asked Pooh.
“Well.” The Stranger put down the picnic basket he had been holding. “I’m writing a book, and it seemed to me that if you let me write about some of the adventures you and your friends have had, it would be a better book. It’s a book about management.”
“Man-age-ment,” said Edward Bear in the somewhat puzzled tone he used when he was thinking, or, as Eeyore might say, “Trying to think.”
“That is a very long word.” Pooh reflected. “It is the kind of long word that Owl uses. Does it stand for something good, like ah ummmm honey?”
Guess what? I liked the book and though it’s rather short and already a few years old, I actually consider it as one of the better –however not very profound– management works I have recently read.
The way the author, management consultant Roger E. Allen, has transposed Milne’s classic stories and popular characters –Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger and friends– into an unexpected context, and how a Very Important Bear (V.I.B.) teaches us some basic MBA stuff, is original, refreshing and entertaining.
A closer look at the Table of Contents reveals how the book is actually covering quite a few different aspects of management:
- In Which Winnie-the-Pooh Learns About Management and What Makes Someone a Manager
- In Which Pooh Visits Owl in the Hundred Acre Wood, Has Management Theories Explained, and Fears He Is a Bear of No Brain at All
- In Which The Stranger, Pooh, and Rabbit Talk About the “Hows” of Setting Objectives and Organizing and Pooh Forgets to Sing His Manager Song
- In Which Piglet, Pooh, and Tigger Communicate After a Fashion, Learn the Rules, and Pooh Is a Very Forgetful Bear
- In Which Pooh Finally Sings His Manager Song, Eeyore Wanders By, an Exposition Is Remembered, and Motivation, Delegation, and Leadership Are Explored
- In Which We Talk About Measuring Ents, a Woozle Is Tracked to Its Lair and Defined, and Pooh Gets to Know How Much Honey He Has
- In Which Pooh, Owl, and The Stranger Discuss the Others in the Forest to Learn About Developing People and Tigger Is Unbounced
- In Which Pooh and The Stranger Talk About the Horrible Heffalump Trap for Managers and What They Can Do to Avoid Falling Into It
- In Which The Stranger Comes to the Forest for the Last Time, a Party Is Held, Pooh Becomes a Very Important Bear, and an Enchanting Place Is Visited
- In Which The Stranger Thinks About Visiting the Forest, What Was Found There, and What Was Brought Back
“Winnie-the-Pooh on Management” is a great example of serious storytelling: original approach, simple language, presence of a protagonist, recognizable style, educational content, … what more can you ask?
And I still have more to read, since –according to amazon.com– customers who read this book also bought “Winnie-the-Pooh on Problem Solving” and “Winnie-the-Pooh on Success…”
Other articles about this topic that are worth reading:
- Winnie-the-Pooh on Management – book review (by the Business Forum)
- Winnie the Pooh, reviewed in the style of A.A. Milne (by Chris Knight)
- The Learning Style of Pooh (by Yvonne Eve Walus)