The Unbounded Mind: Breaking the Chains of Traditional Business Thinking
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Global markets, Japanese competition, the service economy, the sophisticated consumer--American business today faces challenges undreamed of just a few decades ago, and traditional approaches to corporate problems are becoming increasingly less effective. And yet, as the authors of The Unbounded Mind point out, MBA programs still preach--and thousands of American firms hold sacred--an antiquated system of business thinking that is wholly inadequate to the problems they face.
In this groundbreaking work, two pioneering thinkers in business studies, Ian I. Mitroff and Harold A. Linstone, pinpoint the profound changes that must occur in the way business executives think, make decisions, and solve problems, if America is to remain competitive. They put forth a radically new approach--"new thinking"--and show executives exactly how to employ these special critical and creative tools to clear the hurdles businesses now face. Logic and rationality, they explain, are useful but limited. And traditional simplification often inhibits the ability to ask the right questions and recognize the true problem. But varying perspectives, multiple realities, and openness to multiple solutions are the secrets of contemporary problem-solving, and lead us to the cutting edge of innovation. Clearly and compellingly, Mitroff and Linstone weave together insights gleaned from philosophy, psychology, management science, economics, and decision science, and quote thinkers from Descartes to Robert Bly, from Alvin Toffler to Chief Seattle. In illustrating how "new thinking" differs from the usual ways in which American firms have handled problems, they analyze a wealth of examples including the decline of the American auto industry and the consequences of this country's blind exporting of technology. They also revisit and interpret some of the most grave crises corporate America has faced: the Bhopal disaster, the Tylenol scare, and the accident at Three Mile Island.
Hard-hitting and insightful, The Unbounded Mind is a clarion call for American business. It argues that if we are to produce products and services that can compete in the information age, we must challenge the very foundations of our thinking, and learn how to approach decisionmaking in a truly creative way.
know that exceedingly practical considerations turn on the discussion. For instance, academics may have the luxury of participating in the kind of standoff in which Mitroff was embroiled, but today's managers and executives do not. A lament all too commonly and frequently heard in today's organization is: I can't tell you the incredible talent we've got around here. If we could only "get it together," we could beat the pants off the Germans and the Japanese. The thing that depresses all of us is
leadership, including the adaptation of business management techniques such as a detailed business plan and emphasis on results as well as process, customer surveys, and an eagerness to be innovative. The Weingart Center is not the only, and perhaps not even the best, answer to homelessness. But it is a leader in a market long overdue for competition. Even more, it is ample testimony to what "new thinking" applied to old problems can accomplish. In an age where increasingly all our social
blacks and Hispanics more than whites.8 On the average for the United States as a whole, the census undercounts whites by 2% and blacks by 8%. Should the number of whites therefore be multiplied by 1.02 and blacks by S.08 to correct the "raw numbers"? The answer is "No!," for the numbers 2% and 8% only reflect national averages. In some areas of the country, blacks are missed less and whites by more than the national averages. Thus, one needs to know what the percentages are at local levels. But
Catastrophe Mailing 117 pipes; removal of refrigerant from the MIC tank despite instructions to the contrary in the safety manuals; the failure to recognize the entry of water in the MIC tank; the failure to sound adequate warnings to the surrounding area for over three hours after the leak began. There is a striking similarity in this respect to Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. At Three Mile Island, errors included inadequate training of utility company operators and supervisors, toleration of
states clearly what the problem is and gives an equally clear procedure for finding the solution, x = l l - 5 = 6. Just as strongly, there is a clear sense of what constitutes a "solution." The problem is "bounded" in that there is a finite set of appropriate "solutions" to the initial problem. In this case, there exists only a single solution, x = 6. Unstructured problems, on the other hand, are generally on the cutting edge of knowledge. In the early stages of research, there may well be no