As all bad things from the university world eventually do, group think and a lack of respect for individual thought has trickled down to America’s corporations. This is nothing new, of course. But this being America, some very clever people have figured out how to profit from the fact.
Someone very close to me with a fairly important mid-level manager position at a major American corporation recently attended this crazy convention devoted to something called "systems thinking" where he was spoon-fed a bunch of gobblety-gook about individual action being an archaic mode of leadership and the "team" should be thought of as a "living organism." His company paid some exhorbitant fees for him and his co-workers to attend this event. And, as you can see from their website, they don’t give away much. (Maybe we bloggers should take some hints from these folks!)
My friend reported being taken into a room where small groups were engaged in hugging, alot of "thoughtful" beard-stroking, and soft-talk about "collaboration." When asked for his definition of the word, this fellow replied that collaboration was a group of people working together toward a common goal. The group "leader" (though that word is awfully insensitive, don’t you think) responded with awe and asked that everyone take a few moments to absorb the enormity of what my friend had said. My friend reported feeling himself getting sucked in at this point: "Hey," he said, "I’m thinking maybe I’m some kind of f*&^ing philosopher!"
When the hugging and the crying started, however, my friend bolted and was able to make it home in time for his daughter’s ballet recital where the applause might be more genuinely given--however equally deserved. And alas, his words are no longer received with awe and beard-stroking.