Pig Wrestling

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

I really enjoyed this book as I’m a fan of fables but it’s also really useful to step back and look at problem solving. It was a fun way to be reminded that sometimes the problem is how we are looking st something and not the problem itself!
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I'm not one who generally reads this sort of book, but like most people I've had and have problems I'd like to look at differently. This books offers that new way of looking at and working through those problems.
The method is told through a conversational journey between a troubled manager and various people who use the method. I enjoyed the writing and the story helped cement the method and the ideas behind it. The story gave different ways of looking at the steps so you could frame it to your own issues.
The whole book is a quick, maybe 2 hours, light hearted and easily understood. It offers you a problem solving method that could help plenty of people with various problems. 
Grab this book for a problem solving quick read. 

Thanks to netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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Pete Lindsay and Mark Bawden
“I learned long ago never to wrestle with a pig.   You get dirty and besides, the pig loves it.”
(George Bernard Shaw)

I'm not a great fan of self-help books (apart from Eric Berne's “Games People Play”), which always seem to start with the glaringly obvious and sink all too quickly into wordy jargon.   But this one is different, perhaps because the authors are sports coaches who have worked with Team GB for the Olympics.

At heart, it's a fable, a great way of getting across “complex and powerful messages in simple and coherent images”.   To be more precise, it's two fables – the outer layer of the story tells how a young manager has become frustrated at his failure to motivate his awkward squad of team members.   Fed up with the situation, he goes for a coffee in the basement of his multi-disciplinary office complex.   The wise old barista there tells him that if he's tried everything but the problem's still there, then he hasn't tried everything ...

The barista then introduces him to the second fable – and the weird title of the book.   It all turns on an odd vision: imagine you're on a walk in the country, and you come across a fenced-off pig pen.   Inside it is a prize porker with its head stuck in an old picture frame.   The pig would like to reach out to its food trough and to some gold nuggets in the earth at the corner of the pen, but its movements are held back by two bungee cords tying it to the ground.   Outside the pen is a bucket full of soapy water and a sponge, a crystal ball fizzing with energy, a child's “Spot the Difference” book and a green recycling bin.   That (along with a yellow danger sign), says the barista, is all you need to solve your problem – indeed, any problem you might encounter.

And it is.   In the chapters that follow, the young manager is passed from one firm in his office block to another, where the managers teach him the meaning of each of the puzzling features of the pig pen.   If you start, for instance, with the picture frame, you learn how an outdated frame “colours our perception of its contents. And that can be dangerous, because we have a tendency to forget that we are looking through a frame at all.”   Each encounter with a different manager in the unusual set of offices and workshops throws more light on the strange collection of objects in and around the pig pen.   Some of the symbols you might guess (the bucket of soapy water and a sponge is a bit of a giveaway), but others take a bit more puzzling.  And it's a tale with a happy ending, but, other than letting you know that the young manager successfully tackled his problem with a fresh approach, I won't spoil it for you by giving the ending away.   I think you might enjoy this book, and you might, like the young manager, find yourself cleaning your problems.

											Nigel Melville
(This review originally appeared in the Chesil Magazine, Dorset)
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With thanks to NetGalley for a prepublication review copy.

Written by two sports psychologists, this is a deceptively simple little book that aims to provide a strategy to deal with any difficult situation, in any walk of life. Which is a pretty tall order...

The basic concept is that of ‘problem cleaning’ to get unstuck and create change, and the authors use the fable format to give us the story of a Young Manager struggling to deal with conflicts between two high-flying teams he manages. He is given advice by the barista in the coffee shack in his building, in the form of a graphic that represents the steps needed to break through his - and, by extension, our - mental barriers. He is then sent on a journey through his building to have each step explained by the various business managers sharing the space. 

It’s a quick read if you’re just skimming through but of course that’s really not the point. The graphic is deliberately bizarre, in order to be easily recollected - the ancient concept of the memory palace or the amethod of Loci. It consists of a fence forming a pig pen, containing a pig wearing a picture frame around its neck and held down by two pink bungee cords, so that it cannot get at its food trough which bears the words ’Made in Hanoi’. In the far corner are some gold nuggets; around the outside of the pen are a bucket of water and a sponge, a child’s Spot the Difference puzzle book, a recycling bin and a large yellow warning sign. Together, these disparate elements make up the framework for an alternative approach to problem solving: from deciding if it’s really a problem for you, that needs to be prioritised now and that you are seeing in its entirety; through learning to recognise when you’re looking through the wrong frame; to understanding that our narratives are linked to our failure to progress; to having a vision of what a resolution looks like; looking at the occasions when a problem doesn’t arise and recognising the differences; and finally seeing problems as a result of misdirected energies rather than faults. 

I’ve just read the book, so I’m not in a position to comment on how well this method works. But I will certainly try applying these principles the next time I feel stuck with a seemingly insurmountable problem. I can see it being a good basis for problem-solving workshops, but I feel I’d probably need a bit more reinforcement of the ideas than simply reading the book will provide.
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Brilliantly sharp, witty and interesting advice on how to solve problems. Loved this thought-provoking read. Plus, great title!
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Pig Wrestling is an easily digestible and enlightened fable illustrating a framework for superior problem solving.  I really enjoyed reading this book and I feel like I can take a lot on board from this book not just into my professional development but into all other areas of my life.  The use of a fable was a great choice to present the information in a really accessible and practical way. The focus on reframing and perception was particularly powerful and relevant to my needs, as the Young Manager learns to reframe problems and perceived weaknesses into opportunity and strengths that have not been directed in the most productive way.

I think it has really carved out its own unique place in the market compared to similar self-improvement books because it does not bog itself down into extraneous levels of academic theory; instead it constantly reverts back to practical examples of where such lessons can be employed and to what effect. Alongside this, it is a genuinely engaging fable, in ways that Who Moved my Cheese and the like have failed. 

It is definitely the type of book that will require a reread or two to really embed the knowledge but the use of bizarre images and a memorable fable is well used.  I am definitely going to remember aspects of this memorable tale alongside employing the tools discussed. 

Thanks Netgalley!
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This is a good book. I have been very fortunate to have recently completed a course on brief, solution focused, therapy. Plus I am an NLP practitioner and hypnotherapist. This small book combines these elements together to problem solve, along with the behavioural approach. It’s useful, I am sure, and reminded me that simple is often complex....Or is it? Another positive? It’s short.
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I like the concept of this book. Let's face it we have all experienced what the author calls 'Pig Wrestling. You come across a problem, you think you know the solution and implement the change. It doesn't work! That's because you've not understood the problem or situation. This book breaks it down into simple terms and allows you to think outside the box, it opens doors to different ways in looking at how you tackle it. A real 'nugget'. Thank you.
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I enjoyed this but there were elements of it I found irritating. I’m comfortable with the idea of using a fable/story to get the message across but I found the "young manager" aspect a bit patronising. Sending the young guy round the office building where he works, the friendly barista helps him reshape his thinking and reframe his knee jerk management techniques. There are some good lessons here and this would be useful for a new manager or maybe someone stuck in a rut and struggling to break out. 

I was given a copy of this book by Netgalley in return for an honest review
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A well written book that provides a lot of theory about problem solving and reframing things in a way they call “problem cleaning”. Entertaining narrative..
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The message - reframe the issue! We are shown how to look at a problem (firstly, is it a problem?) from a different perspective and the different solution(s) become apparent. What I found most useful was the summary at the end of each chapter which can be easily used as an aide-memoire if/when you feel the need to return to the book to consolidate your first reading of it. 
An interesting read put over in a fresh style. Thank you NetGalley and Penquin.
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I can see that other reviewers have got a lot of value out of this book, but for whatever reason it just wasn't for me. I liked the idea of framing it as a modern fable in order to put their points across about learning to see problems differently, but for me it felt like a lot of theory without much to help you put the ideas into practice. 

I also found the pig analogy in it's entirety quite complicated, and although its quirkiness makes much of it very memorable, I think there might have been a little bit too much going on. 

However, I did like the brevity of the book - you can read it in just a couple of hours and, if you're wrestling with a particular problem at the time of reading, I can imagine that it may well be very helpful.
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Problem solving can be a very dry subject to explain, and keep the readers interest. So turning the subject into an easily digested set of stories and scenarios seems to be a novel approach. For certain there are some useful concepts here.
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I am not a huge fan of the business 'parable' as I feel it was done to death in the eighties and nineties by Ken Blanchard and others. Recently I read Out of the Maze by Spenser Tracy and it really didn't do much new for me. However, I did enjoy Pig Wrestling and found the process of moving around the imaginary pigpen as related to different aspects of problem solving very useful. I also felt the process was well-explained within the story.

I would say that there is not enough information on 'frames' within the story but a little research should clear that up. I think this book is deserving of more attention than it may get - and certainly a follow up users manual. Well done.
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Pig Wrestling provides an all-encompassing framework for looking at your problems in a new light and finding a solution to the problem you actually have rather then the one you thought you did. It's engagingly written, vividly easy to remember and immensely practical.
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Nicely written book, more an adventure than a normal management preach.  Enjoyable way of absorbing the ideas presented, would recommend to many work colleagues
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Free book offered to "live life better" for 2019 - how could I resist?? Self help books are always somewhat useful, even if only to reinforce what you already know :-)
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This is a great book full of fresh thinking and new ideas.  It is written with just the right amount information and pitched at a level anyone can understand.  It can been used in business but also in your personal life or other scenarios.  It is particularly relevant to anyone who has been stuck in the same problem or difficult situation for a long time.  The only downside (and this is probably just me !) is that I did not take to the mnemonic used.  It felt as if the brilliant idea had been wrapped in glitzy paper and your first job was to unwrap it again so you could get to the brilliant ideas !  However I am sure this is what will appeal to many people.  It would be very very helpful if you could provide a list of summary steps at the end that were not tied in to the picture.  It just felt as though you have worked really hard to make the mnemonic fit the brief.  But love the ideas and the thinking outside the box.  It would be easy to design a picture or scenario myself that was more suited to my way of thinking, so it really isn't a big problem.  The ideas behind the pig are brilliant.
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This was a departure from the book genres I usually read but I'm pleased to say that it was a very enjoyable read. The process and the principles were explained clearly and I was able to read it in one evening. As the authors recomend, it may need another read - at least of the summaries - to recall the steps when faced with a real situation but the images described will help (think about pigs in picture frames, crystal ball, bungee cords, etc!)
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Pete Lindsay's and Mark Bawden's Pig Wrestling is an interesting book about how to analyse and resolve problems. You could blast through it in a single sitting (1-2 hours) but it still contains concepts worth taking away (cleaning the problem, for example). I'm not convinced by the Fable approach to self-help books. I first encountered this approach with Eliyahu Goldratt's The Goal - and with that book it seems like the story just added padding, and it does seem the same here. Without the fiction, this could've been either a short essay, or, my preference would be instead of spending the time introducing characters which are all business stereotypes, use that effort to illustrate with examples and case studies. A good non-fiction author doesn't necessarily convert to a good fiction author, the prose just ends up being distracting. Still, enjoyable, so a solid 4 stars.

Book kindly supplied by Netgalley for an honest review.
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