Monday, November 22, 2010



Clichés, slogans, and latitudes have infiltrated our culture to such an extent that we can no longer think straight.
"There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking." -- Sir Joshua Reynolds.
We have not taught people to see the "box" in order to "think inside" of it. They are not taught to think at all. They are given steps to use, and then those steps are constantly supplied to them during testing and analysis, so they don't even have to remember them.

The ability to analyze a situation and apply pure logic and/or think through the issues relating to the situation and/or researching possible options based on historical information are all missing in the majority of the under-30 crowd.
"Leaders are readers" and that if you are not reading at least one book a month, you really are not a true leader.

We taught our kids to read. And they read a lot. Every one of them is significantly advanced in relation to their peer group. Their peers have become illiterate.

I recently returned to college. My peers were functionally illiterate in virtually every aspect of their college work.
The teachers who wanted to teach English or literature were incapable of writing a paragraph without multiple errors. We are (and have been) graduating prospective teachers who are functionally illiterate.

These teachers are being taught to teach using "new age" methodologies and "new age" philosophies. This "outside the box" thinking in education has caused us to abandon the teaching philosophies that gave direction to our teachers. The result is that the teachers, themselves, are no longer capable of the thought processes we were taught, so they cannot pass that along to their students.

"How did people think prior to the cliché being born?"

Walter Bagehot wrote: ' It is often said that men are ruled by their imagination, but it would be truer to say that they are governed by the weakness of their imagination”.
Long time ago, people had skills they learned the hard way by watching, processing and doing. These people were highly motivated since they produced products which were excellent and to the finest quality and so they developed a great pride in that which they were skillful at, and to the extent that, they never stopped thinking and pondering of ways to make the product better and more valuable.

Perhaps also along came things like the industrial revolution and such like, as man become lazy and started the road down to redundancy, as all the products were now automated and man a mere operator just to mind the machine .

It was no longer necessary for man to think or ponder and so that wonderful gift was lost to all but a few and today we have the illiterate, perhaps not just in the sense of reading, but in life in general.

While some sayings may have evolved into clichés however, this shouldn't detract from the essential truth of the sentiment they were originally intended to express.

Companies and communities need leaders with a right-brained biased to assist them to appreciate potential opportunities that may be over the horizon, but they also need leaders who are left-brained dominant to devise and implement the processes that are necessary to reach that destination.

There is no right or wrong in this and in order for any individual to be capable of thinking at all it is obviously better if both sides of his or her brain is fully developed, but then most of us aren't mentally ambidextrous and we naturally lean one way or the other.

Similarly with any organization, it is better if its leadership group contains people who both are creative enough to 'think outside the box,' and accountable enough to 'think inside the box'.

That is how we maintain sufficient balance to ensure we can take full advantage of the good times, while always being prepared for the bad. Successful companies need to be able to encourage the optimists without killing the pessimists and vice-versa.
The one thing that hasn't been considered is that "the box" is constantly moving around. If those who "think outside" of it become successful, they are soon emulated. (A process that becomes faster and faster thanks to technology)

The box represents structure that contains an input-output process. People who do not wish to be trapped by processes think outside their logic to find better and more effective structures that define better processes. A process pipeline focuses thinking on the task at hand, and often cannot see how its outputs affect other processes, to the extent that sometimes thinking is not required to make the process efficient. But being efficient can mean going in the wrong direction, and being not effective.
Leading change for improvement needs to rethink what's inside the box, by going outside to restructure the shape of ineffective methods.

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