Think Outside the Building

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 27 Jan 2020

Member Reviews

I have a love-hate relationship with books like this. Love: They make me think. Hate: They make me think. But no matter which way it goes, nobody does "think" books better than this author, whom I have admired ever since I read "A Tale of O: On Being Different in an Organization" way back in 1980 (and about five years later, "Change Masters").

Most of us in the business world (or mostly retired from it, like me) have long since taken the "think outside the box" mantra to heart; but now, the author maintains, the world has outgrown that box and it's time to expand our thinking once again. People have come to view institutions, such as health care or religion, as buildings; when we think of health care, we see hospitals; think religion,  see churches or synagogues. The people inside these buildings - in particular, those who run them - for the most part have become accustomed to, and comfortable with, the way things are and resist meaningful change (i.e., that which can make a real difference in and to the world).

Illustrated by a ton of examples, mostly from participants in Harvard University's Advanced Leadership Initiative (which the author co-founded and directs), this book "reflects a search for new possibilities for positive change." This means going beyond conventional wisdom, and certainly making an end run (or perhaps a bottom-up) around institutional top-down toxicity. Especially amid the I'm okay but you're not, circle the wagons times in which we live, that seems to me to be a sound approach. Many of us are unhappy with the world as it is, yet still believe it can be made better; the trick, if you will, is knowing how to make that happen.

To be sure, it's not easy; it's not enough to have a well-thought-out idea. Just getting started requires three "Cs" - capabilities, connections and cash - either well in hand or knowing how and where to obtain them. Detailed here are the processes, from concept to fruition, of several such ventures: what worked, what didn't, and what the rest of us can learn from these experiences.

Overall, this is an important book that isn't just for successful business men and women and those with plenty of money to spare. Rather, it's for anyone who sees a problem that needs addressed and envisions possible solutions that could make the world (or their little part of it) better. Highly recommended, and many thanks to the publisher, via NetGalley, for the opportunity to read and review a pre-publication copy.

Oh yes, I'm still thinking.
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A great idea and a great title. The actual information did not match my expectations. I was looking for more outside the building thinking to solve problems instead I got same old same old.
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