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THINKING IN NEW BOXES

A NEW PARADIGM FOR BUSINESS CREATIVITY

The authors provide some intriguing nuggets for thought, but the lack of discussion about the usual parameters of business...

Boston Consulting Group advisers de Brabandere (The Forgotten Half of Change: Achieving Greater Creativity Through Changes in Perception, 2005, etc.) and Iny showcase their company's approach to helping organizations develop that next big transforming idea.

The authors use the idea of boxes as the frame for their presentation—not the trope of thinking outside one but rather, how to organize the process to make new ones. The boxes are mental models that they contend people use to make sense of themselves and their world. The “new boxes” represent the idea of creating ways of thinking about oneself, one's organization and the world. The authors discuss a five-step process for bringing about transformation: doubt everything, probe the limits of possibility, encourage expression of different points of view, choose the options that seem to have the most potential for success, and re-evaluate relentlessly. They buttress their presentation with thought games and exercises and examples from the Boston Consulting Group's inventory of organizational techniques, which they have used with clients from around the world (e.g., the French postal service and glass manufacturer AGC Glass Europe). The authors focus on the case of the Bic company, which transformed itself from a one-box company—the maker of low-cost disposable plastic pens—into one that would be a “designer and maker of all manner of disposable, non-expensive plastic items”—e.g., cigarette lighters and razors. An array of brain-teasing games and ice-breaking–type techniques, which they call “warm ups” and “mini-world explorations,” flesh out the approach.

The authors provide some intriguing nuggets for thought, but the lack of discussion about the usual parameters of business success, like increasing sales, revenues, productivity and profit, is glaring.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9295-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2013

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GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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MASTERY

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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