Book of the Week: Whale Done By Ken Blanchard3 min read


“Whale Done” is a book that essentially digs into the power of building positive relationships. The book however covers this topic from a very interesting angle. “Whale Done” was written by Ken Blanchard along with the assistance of a couple of Sea World professionals. The book actually details on how Killer Whales are trained at Sea World to do all those spectacular jumps and dives that consistently amaze those of us that have experienced this event. What’s most interesting is the message in this book on how it relates to the commonalities of the five ton killer whale with our partners, managers, employees, spouse, and our kids.

Blanchard shows us in how using the techniques of animal trainers – specifically those responsible for the killer whales at Sea World – can supercharge your effectiveness at work and at home. We learn of their techniques of building trust, accentuating the positive, and redirecting negative behavior – all of which makes these extraordinary performances possible.

So how is this all done we ask. The techniques in training a killer whale are actually simple. If you want to train a killer whale to jump over a rope on a signal, how would you do that? Would you get in your little boat with a mega phone and yell, ‘Jump, Jump!’ until the whale jumps over the rope?” I really don’t think so.

When you first start training a new whale, he or she already knows how to jump however it has no concept of jumping over a rope and why it would do so in the first place. So the trainers start out with the rope underneath the water, high enough from the bottom for the whale to swim under it. If the whale swims over the rope he gets rewarded in the form of a fish, if he swims under the rope the trainers will simply ignore him. After a while the whale makes the connection between swimming over the rope and getting a treat. At this point the trainers begin to raise the rope higher and higher each time as to eventually train the whale to perform those amazing acrobatic leaps.

The point is simple in the process is that they are rewarding progress – doing something better – is consistently being noticed, acknowledged, and rewarded. The interesting lesson here is that we need to do the same with our children, spouse, partners and team – catch them doing things better and praise the progress. That way you set them up for success and build from there.

Unfortunately some of us in this world play the “GOTcha “ game of catching people doing things wrong posed to “Whale Done” theory of catching people doing things right. In consistently catching people doing things right you will see and learn by accentuating the positive and redirecting the negative you will be utilizing the best and most effective tools to increase behavior and productivity.

So have fun reading this book and practicing your new found techniques of “Whale Done.” Be sure to share your successes from your new found style of management.


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