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Consider: Harnessing the Power of Reflective Thinking In Your Organization [Hardcover]

Daniel Patrick Forrester

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Book Description

Jan. 18 2011 0230106072 978-0230106079 1

“STOP, THINK, AND DON’T DO SOMETHING STUPID!”  This is the warning Dr. Robert Bea drills into his Civil and Environmental Engineering students at the University of California in Berkeley. Bea wants to dramatize what he terms the inevitable “oh shit” moments that present themselves—before an actual engineering calamity like the Deepwater Horizon/BP disaster happens.

There’s an intangible and invisible marketplace within our lives today where the products traded are four fold: attention, distraction, data and meaning. The stories and examples within Consider demonstrate that the best decisions, insights, ideas and outcomes result when we take sufficient time to think and reflect. While technology allows us to act and react more quickly than ever before, we are taking increasingly less time to consider our decisions before we make them.  Reflection supplies an arsenal of ideas and solutions to the right problems.  Including interviews with leaders such as General David Petraeus, attorney Brooksley Born and global investor Kyle Bass, Forrester shows us that taking time and giving ourselves the mental space for reflection can mean the difference between total success and total failure.  


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"Daniel Forrester has truly identified the biggest leadership problem we face today. The flood of data and the ease of communications afforded us by 21st Century technology have led to snap decision making without the careful thought or processing necessary for us to make quality decisions. Speed and action have replaced well thought out strategic thinking. Daniel provides a valuable guide on how to strategically think and analyze before we act. This first rate book is a must read for leaders in every facet of our society."  —General Anthony C. Zinni USMC (Retired)
 
“While technological improvements make it easier to both act and act quickly, this powerful book reminds us about the value of reflection. Invest the time to read this wonderful work. Your professional and personal actions will be that much more impactful when they are informed by its insights on thoughtfulness.”  —Mark Zupan, Dean and Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Simon School of Business, University of Rochester
 
"THINK and be spared—egregious mistakes, widespread second guessing, and embarrassing contrition.  That is the simple and powerful message from Daniel Forrester who has extensively probed the sturm and drang of management.  Technologies abundant harvest of information affords priceless opportunities for reflection to improve the quality of decisions, if not squandered by a Pavlovian urge towards instantaneous response.  Our cultural bias toward action limits critical thinking to less than 10% of our day's activity.  Yet thoughtful analysis can spawn great ideas and prevent bad things from happening."  —John F. Budd, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Omega Group
 

"Daniel Forrester has sliced through the paradox of our time: while the world seems to want you to go ever faster and keep up with ever more, it actually rewards you for being insightful and for doing work with meaning. I know it's hard to slow down to read this, but you should."  —Seth Godin, author of Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

"CONSIDER buying this book; then buy it, read it, and live it.  Daniel Forrester has done a terrific job of laying out the problems, pitfalls and disasters of today's action-driven, 24/7, email-overloaded workplace—and offers breath-catching reporting and proven examples of the value and rewards of reflection and THINK TIME.  Based on in-depth research and personal interviews with many of America's top business, social, military, and cultural leaders; CONSIDER will change how you work, how you run your business, how you live your life."  —Dennis Wholey, Host and Executive Producer, PBS-TV’s THIS IS AMERICA and author of The Courage to Change and Why Do I Keep Doing That?

"Daniel Forrester singles out what is potentially the largest opportunity for corporations and governments of our time: the power of deep reflection at all levels of the organization. Through persuasive and insightful examples he provides evidence that more and better think time is a value creating proposition. He also contributes useful recommendations to actually implement think time habits in your organizations. Anyone in the corporate world should read this book; it may transform your company." —Sergio A. Pernice, MBA Director and Professor of Organizational Design and Financial Engineering and Risk Management, UCEMA Business School, Argentina

“In a very readable interesting book Daniel Forrester captures the essence of an organization’s power to grow and prosper in both good and bad times.  If you are serious about growing your organization in these turbulent times do yourself a favor; Buy, read and act on Daniel Forrester’s recommendations.”  —Peggie O'Neill, Co-Founder and Former Director of Loyalty Management University, Host of Passionate Leaders Powerful People (TV Show), and Director of Prayer Power Worldwide

"Forrester's book practices what it preaches by taking you--slowly and with great care--inside the pauses, downtimes and sheer zoning-outs that trigger most creative thinking.  Better yet, Daniel provides ample ammunition for anybody looking to listen to that inner voice that says, "I just don't know and NEED to think about this longer!"   A great book for a time in which too many of us pull back from the data deluge, clinging to unshakable beliefs instead of exercising our minds.  Bottom line:  free your time and the rest will follow."  —Thomas P.M. Barnett, Author and strategist
 
"Dan Forrester makes a point that is so incredible, it defies belief.  Put simply, CEO’s and other topmost management executives spend so little time thinking.  The irony is that this state of affairs is understandable.  CEOs are activist; they do things.  But many of the things they do would produce greater results if they spent more time thinking before they take action.  Best of all, he shows how to do it: a disciplined approach to the totality of the management function—think first, then act."  —Harold Burson, Founder Chairman, Burson-Marsteller

About the Author

Daniel Patrick Forrester is a management consultant with over fifteen years experience leading complex strategy and technology evolution engagements for senior executives from Fortune 100 and 500 companies, and federal government organizations. Current and past clients include: Verizon, Sallie-Mae, Sprint, Dow Chemical, FMC Corporation, The Department of Homeland Security, The Library of Congress, The Congressional Research Service, and the United States Marine Corps.   Forrester is frequently in demand as a public speaker at organizations such as The Brookings Institute and the top-ranked Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago.  He is currently a Director and Executive within Sapient Government Services, a subsidary of Sapient Corporation.


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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It takes time to find honest answers March 20 2011
By GrandMoff Burton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book posits a basic hypothesis. "We are too distracted in our lives, and our work". The author explains, this distraction is partly the increasing role that techonolgy plays in our lives, but also the increasingly higher value that we place on "action". Then this book attempts to answer the question: "what happens to organizations filled with distracted people?" The author succeeds in looking beyond the obvious, and finding a systemic flaw in our collective behavior. The flaw is that we have removed the practice of reflective thinking in our daily routines; organizations don't value it, and people don't do it.

Why is reflection important, who cares? This book will demonstrate that if you want your organization to be adaptive to change, creative in its solutions, and meainingful in its impact; then reflective thinking is a key ingredient.

The author's writing style is very conversational, and not overly academic. Their are a few hard data points and statistics, but for the most part this book is about stories. It's about real-life examples of companies and individuals who have reclaimed the lost art of reflection and how it is effecting their lives. These stories are wide ranging, and do a nice job covering the four pillars of American institutions: Government, Private Industry, Academia and Non-Profits. His examples range from the financial crisis and Katrina response, to the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq and even the American Civil War. At the end of each chapter there are take-aways; key lessons to learn from each chapter, which are usually steps or important considerations for implementing the books advice. Though it may seem redundant, these take-aways really provide a nice roadmap for how to put this book to use, which is something severly lacking in most "business" books I read.

The stories he tells are really interesting annecdotes by themselves, but to me the price of this book comes from discovering one underlying observation consistent through all the examples he gives. This observation is really important and can't be understaded. It is that organizations who embrace reflective thinking send a signal that they care about finding some objective truth. They want truth about their performance, about their impact in the world, and to know, with some certainty, that they are making the right decision and not just the first decision. As a result of reflection and think time, these institutions create cultures of dissent, and are not afraid to explore the "what if we are wrong" scenarios.

In my opinion America is ripe for this kind of honest conversation. As we look back at the last 10 years and see our hasty reactions to 9/11, irrational exuberence in the housing market, and a political system all too happy with short-term, bandaid policies; it becomes obvious that more time to sit back and think through mistake avoidance is needed now more than ever.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read, well worth the time July 3 2011
By Jeff T. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
With a fluid and compelling narrative that engages the reader, Consider asks us to do what so many of us fail to do - think instead of react. The author details several examples, some famous and some not, of failure and takes readers through the thought processes that enabled the failure, its impacts, and the lessons learned by leaders and organizations. Showing how the outcomes of major events can turn on what seems to be the smallest of decisions or surest of assumptions, Consider makes it clear few if any decisions or assumptions should be characterized as small because their impacts may exponentially cascade in unforseen ways. While leaders rarely have all the information they need to make optimal decisions, they usually have the time they need yet choose not to take it. The author sets forth a multipronged argument that disengaging from immediate activity is a critical input to improving productivity and quality. The time to think, coupled with open and possibly disruptive feedback, is a badly underutilized resource in todays working environment. The principles he lays out for incorporating relfection into an organization can positively impact everyone from the CEO to the receptionist and is a must read for anyone interested in learning from their history instead of repeating it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thinking DOES have value! Feb. 28 2011
By ConsultGranite - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As one who consults frequently in the corporate world, I found this book important for a few reasons. Today's corporate environment has become dominated by perception. The idea that your superior's and peer's perception of you is what determines your status and future earnings potential within the organization.

As a result there is a significant bias towards "doing something" regardless of whether that "something" actually has value. Given this "action bias", spending time reflecting would not only be seen as anathema, but would probably make many a corporate manager recoil in horror.

What Forrester has done so well in this book is to make the case that reflection time will form the basis of better ideas that result in better actions. He also implies that the higher you move up the chain of responsibility the more you will be judged by your ability to create positive outcomes rather than produce large quantities of inputs....regardless of how great the Powerpoint deck looks!

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in shedding the chains of meaningless action and differentiating themselves within their organization by allowing themselves the opportunity to discover the difference they can make by ...dare I say it....THINKING for a few moments.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Pursuit of Excellence Feb. 4 2011
By Matt - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In 'Consider', Daniel does an amazing job of establishing the importance of think-time. Many of us strive to be excellent in both our professional and personal lives. As Daniel points out, excellence is extremely difficult if we allow ourselves to be governed by busyness.

We all have 24 hours in our days. 'Consider' forces us to pay better attention to how we spend these hours in the context of what we're trying to achieve. Buy the book, apply its principles, and you will undoubtedly be better prepared to execute on the right things!

Well done Daniel!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simple and thought-provoking July 22 2011
By R Ramsey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I think Forrester has beautifully captured a moment in time in the marketplace: the paradigm shift that space and reflection make us more productive in the long-term. senior executives feel so beholden to earnings, stock prices, and compliance regulations; that they have lost sight of what is even more important...their people. and it is becoming evident that they can't ignore the things that make people great and still get great results over the long-haul.

I love that this book is so simple in its premise (that reflection is a necessary part of good decision-making) but profound in light of what really happens in the market. If more executives are able to take hold of these ideas, we will see a huge shift in innovation while making employees happier at the same time. Give them the freedom to bring the best of themselves to the table and see what happens.
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