Jul 22, 2009

Leadership and Self Deception: Getting Out of the Box

I am guessing that this book by the Arbinger Institute is the book that sparked the "think outside the box" jargon in the popular culture.

This book, too, took the narrative form similar to The Goal, though not in the more refined novel form. Instead, in short vignettes, the book talks about what it means to think inside and outside the box. Incidentally, thinking outside the box does not refer to thinking creatively, which is what I always thought it referred to.

Thinking inside the box refers to a selfish mode of thinking where we treat others as objects to serve us. In this mode, we become selfish and all actions and interactions are geared toward self-justification. The end result of this thought mode is that we become defensive of our own actions while at the same time become dismissive of others' efforts. Often, this state of things poisons our workplace relationships. The bottom line is that we can't achieve results together as an organization (similar to not being able to meet the Goal).

As I read the book, I was reminded of the times I was in the box in my interactions with others, both in and out of my work place. Moreover, I couldn't help but think that the thesis of the book is basically "don't be an asshole." In many ways, the book discovers nothing new. In the bible, Jesus talks about poisoning affects of hypocrisy, and he also demonstrates unfathomable sympathy and love for the suffering. I think one has only to read the gospels and get far more out about management and relationships than in reading about getting out of the box.

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