Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Group Think in Corporate America

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.

Discussions - 4 Comments

I sometimes wonder if these touchy-feely seminars do not kick back big time to someone in management to get booked.

For years, my company has been completely sold on some similar program known as _____. I’ve successfully avoided any training sessions, so far. All the "no military service" managers think it’s the second coming. The "retired military" leaders think it’s a crock, but they gamely go along and work on their management "Black Belts."

Military leadership training certainly incorporates management skills, yet very few civilian management programs teach leadership. It’s a critical distinction. A leader will take a group of individuals and make them want to perform as a team, to collaborate and win. A manager assumes that the group is already coherent, and manages them as an asset. Managers fail as often as they succeed, and a manager’s success is likely to be an almost imperceptible improvement. Sounds like your friend is a leader, with scant time to squander on management training fads.

You said "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." It is hazardous to use "enormity" to mean "great size or importance" because the word also means great wickedness or evil. "Enormousness" would be safer, but I wouldn’t expect the group leader to know that or concern himself with careful uage. Here’s a reference on the subject:

I work for the government and I have to go to various training sessions. I attended a "cultural diversity" session and was subjected to a video by Jane Elliott called "Blue Eyes". In the video this Leftist hinted that Newt Gingrich and Ronald Reagan are racists. I clenched my jaw and was a good soldier. After the video the trainer made some type of reference to something like "good people who are liberal" don’t practice racism. At that point I had to sound off and defend conservatives. Risking being viewed as a racist, I then went on the attack and pointed out some of the ways the left has hurt minorities and race relations. No one refuted me. Your Ohio state dollars at work !

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