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Analyzing and Evaluating Thinking in Corporate and Organizat
Transcript of Analyzing and Evaluating Thinking in Corporate and Organizat
The success of any organization is largely a function of the quality of the thinking done within it. But success is
usually partial rather than complete.
The spirit of critical thinking is an organized and disciplined way of
achieving continual improvement in thinking and therefore of attaining fuller and more complete success over time
An Obstacle to Critical Thinking Within Organizations: The Covert Struggle for Power
"Never outshine the Master."
"Never put too much trust in Friends; learn how to use enemies."
"Conceal your intentions."
"Always say less than necessary."
"Get others to do the work for you, but always take the credit."
"Make other people come to you—use bait if necessary."
"Learn to keep people dependent on you."
"Use selective honesty and generosity to disarm your victim."
"When asking for help, appeal to people's self-interest…"
"Pose as a friend, work as a spy."
"Crush your enemy totally." (pp. ix–xi)
Another Obstacle: Group Definitions of Reality
Within all organizations, there is a natural generation of "favorable self-description" or "self-serving representation."
This involves an image the organization fosters of itself, both inwardly and outwardly
For example, some doctors are aware of more medical malpractice than they are willing to publicly discuss
A Third Obstacle: The Problem of Bureaucracy
No matter how successful any organization may be at the present, there is no guarantee of future success. The
challenge is to break-through the natural assumption that future success is somehow guaranteed. In companies and
organizations transitioning from small to large, for example, one must explicitly face the difficulty of emerging
Analyzing and Evaluating Thinking in Corporate and Organizational Life
Sociologists study this phenomenon under the categories of "in-group and out-group" behavior. Social psychologists
study it under the category of social self-deception.
Bureaucratization is a state in which employees work increasingly by fixed routine rather than through
the exercise of intelligent judgment
The problem of bureaucracy exists in virtually all large organizations—for example, in legal systems that sacrifice
justice to power and expediency; in public health systems that poorly serve the health of the citizens; in schools that
fail to educate; in governmental structures that serve the vested interests of those in power rather than the public.
Competition, Sound Thinking, and Success
Businesses, in contrast to governmental agencies, have the "advantage" of needing to make a profit to survive.
Unlike governmental bureaucracies, which become largely a world unto themselves, businesses must continually
pass the muster of competition. Only a few, like large oil companies colluding on a world-wide basis to fix prices, are
able to force everyone else to conform to their demands. Most businesses face genuine competition they must meet
For example, out of new (small) businesses, 3 out of 4 fail in the first year; 9 out of 10 over a ten year period. Failure
is much more common in business than success. The market is a stern task master. This forces companies to do
some critical thinking, at least enough to survive the competition
Stagnating Organizations and Industries
In the vast majority of stagnating organizations or industries, thinking is used to justify not changing, to defend the
status quo, not to transform it.Defective thinking becomes an internal obstruction: justifying a refusal to seriously
consider evidence that indicates flaws. Weak earnings, low morale, obsolete product lines, are rationalized. Poor
thinking is denied
The evidence that should precipitate a change in thinking is set aside or denied. It is very difficult
for a critical thinker to work effectively in an organization trapped in poor thinking. This is one of the many reasons
that excellent thinkers tend to gravitate toward organizations which are smaller, less committed to a party line, more
open to innovation and new lines of thought.
In light of the analysis developed thus far in the chapter, there are a set of fundamental questions we should ask in
reflecting on the limiting conditions within which we work:
Questioning Organizational Realities
To what extent is there a struggle for power underway in the organization?
To what extent must we deal with "power hungry" individuals?
What is the hierarchy of power in the organization? To what extent are those at the top easily threatened by
thinking that diverges from their own?