Pig Wrestling – book review

I’m not a fan of “business” books written like fictional novels where real life examples are conspicuous by their absence. So I really wanted to dislike ‘Pig Wrestling’ by Pete Lindsay & Mark Bawden. However, the conversational simplicity of this short book disguises that’s a really effective vehicle for presenting a set of steps to help people solve tough issues – or ‘pig’ problems.

The story is based on a young manager who’s based in a funky shared office building and struggling with the management of his team. I didn’t warm to him and you probably won’t either. He befriends a wise barista and begins a journey to meet others in the same building and learn about how they use a ‘secret’ problem solving approach. If it all sounds a bit contrived, we’ll it is, but all the individual elements eventually serve a purpose.

The strength of this book is that it presents a set of mundane – but important – problem solving steps using visual metaphors that make them both accessible and memorable.

The main metaphor is a pig in a mucky pen and a bunch of other apparently random paraphernalia.

 

Work your way through the narrative and we discover that the approach helps the manager to…

  • Define and re-frame the problem, for example stepping back and getting a wider perspective
  • Get rid of the other distractions and noise hindering his problem solving
  • Identify potential solutions by uncovering his own mental blocks and thinking more creatively
  • Map when the problem does and does not occur & derive insights from those observations
  • Switch how he thinks about problems (recognising this can make them worse), for example regard problems as overdone strengths rather than weaknesses, and refuse to carrying problems around

Like all the best stories, the final chapter contains a twist and in this case it’s connected to the humble barista. The setup for the twist is planted early on and you’ll probably guess before the end. But it’s a nice way to end and perhaps confirms our suspicion that the young manager has a tendency to “look but not see”.

Despite my initial skepticism, the utility of this book is best gauged by the fact I’ve copied the visual summary (p130-131) and stuck it on my office wall.

This is not your regular business book, but highly recommended if you want a practical, memorable and versatile problem solving tool.

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