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Unshrink: Yourself - People - Business - the World Paperback – 25 Jul 2002
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"Interpendence is ten times more challenging than independence, but it is the only viable long-term solution for effectiveness in our relationships at work and at home. This is brilliantly illustrated in Unshrink."
Dr Stephen Covey, author, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
From the Author
Unshrink. Comments by Philip Whiteley. June 2002.
Most people have at some time felt squashed, exploited and taken advantage of - especially at work. We feel insignificant. We feel shrunk. It is common to assume that when this happens someone, somewhere is benefiting at our expense.
Unshrink - Yourself, Other People, Business, the World demonstrates that this is not so; that our modern world is based on inter-dependence, and that our potential to grow by sharing is largely untapped.
Unshrink argues that our common beliefs have shrunk us. We pretend that conflict is inevitable, that behaving selfishly is the way to succeed, and that at work we are mere pawns, or 'resources' - a means to the ends of mysterious, powerful forces. Unshrink illustrates that no logic, or evidence, supports these views. Authors Philip Whiteley and Max Mckeown have assembled research that demonstrates the opposite: that employers who are honest and let people use their abilities are more likely to be successful.
The implication is profound. We do not have to choose between head and heart to anything like the degree that we commonly suppose. An ethical solution will tend to be more sustainable and profitable than others.
This is new thinking, so be prepared for an uncomfortable ride. Unshrink challenges deeply rooted notions on the nature of costs, wages and profits; on the nature of management, learning and personal growth. It argues that we unconsciously assume that there is a zero-sum relationship - that you have to take from someone to win - and exposes the lack of evidence for this assumption.
People being made redundant complain that 'it's profits first, not people' - but the fact is that most redundancy and restructuring programmes planned by executives fail to boost profits. Employers' bodies pretend that improved wages or time off for workers are a 'cost' to the business, ignoring the value of skills and motivation, and ignoring the costs of tiredness, bullying and staff turnover. A company is people. Management is people.
There are major implications for business priorities: people, skills, morale and relationships are at the heart of business planning, because people are not subservient to 'the company'.
But there are implications for the individual too. The shrinking, demeaning experiences you have experienced are neither inevitable nor a price to pay for someone else's success. They are disadvantageous for all concerned. We can make a case for better treatment without having to demand that someone else sacrifices something, or is doing us a special favour. And Unshrink explores the astonishingly well kept secret that people are intelligent, and that our potential is not fixed. 'You can start dumb and end up smart; or start smart and end up dumb'. You can unshrink yourself from the internal voices that say 'You're no good' or 'Other people know more than you'.
And there are broader implications too. Immigrants do not 'take' from the country they enter. Poverty in one part of the world does not fuel wealth elsewhere.
It is time to ditch the arithmetic, and rehumanize our relationships. It is time to change the language. If, in business, we are talking about morale, learning, motivation and customer delight - instead of processes, systems, synergy and alignment - then we are being more accurate, as well as more ethical. We unveil the inter-dependence that is the reality of an organisation.
Unshrink exposes the absurdity of the conventional business planner, where the working assumption is 'People do not behave like people'. It asserts, for example:
'In the light of the overwhelming evidence that downsizing and business process re-engineering led to some ghastly mistakes, even some of its architects have acknowledged that they "forgot the people element". This apology is a bit feeble. No one would cheer zoologists who announced that, after 20 years of study, they had recognised that the effort of termites was, after all, an important part of the process of making termite mounds.'
Our shrinking myths tell us that we are what we do, that work is more important than life, that capital creates value, that people are stupid, that people do as they are told, that all change is good, that plans must be kept secret, and that the organisation is a machine.
These myths cause good people to do harmful things. Unshrink discusses the sports coach who thinks that leadership means shouting; the companies that think that long hours boost profits, and the campaigners who think that to give to some you must steal from others. It exposes the fact that no research or logic supports these widespread assumptions.
To replace the myths we will need new principles to give us back our sleep, mutual and self-respect while at the same time increasing passion and profitability. From these principles we discover that we are not what we do, but what we can become. That work does not come first, it should only serve life. That we are all are human, boss and employee alike. That the plan must stop being secret so that it can unify everyone. That only good change is good. That our organisations and our world are communities not machines. That they are only improved as we share. And that sharing will only happen as trust is built not as the number of rules is increased.
This does not mean anarchy, it means authenticity, because people have free will and try to express it, whatever the situation.
But if we believe that we have to hurt others to get on, we will needlessly squash the freedom of others.
Most people failing do not want to; most of those causing pain would rather do good. We have been brought up to believe that there is always a trade-off or a choice between doing that which is good and that which leads to success. Such an assumption is wrong. Unshrink begins the process of explaining why.
Top customer reviews
Illustrating how we become 'shrunk' in the first place 'Unshrink' uncovers the way in which our lives and our selves can become limited. The authors hold up to scrutiny the myths and the assumptions that underpin them which shape our daily lives. In so doing they challenge the structures and the authority by which we live and work.
'Unshrink' offers a new way forward in the form of 'principles' based on mutual respect, co-operation and trust - principles that foster self-esteem and increase our 'passion' as well as 'profitability'. They challenge the 'dog eat dog' world of business and offer a framework within which we can live and succeed. They turn conventional hierarchies (so often built into organisations) on their head and in doing so prioritise trust and self-expression over control, interdepencence over independence, community over the individual, openness over concealment and people rather than resources.
McKeown & Whiteley illustrate the power of language, drawing our attention to the way it can be used to mystify, mislead or conceal. 'Unshrink' demonstrates the power of jargon-free communication. In clear, understandable language, with touches of humour and analogies drawn from business and everyday life, the authors speak directly to the reader communicating radical ideas in a lively and yet down to earth way.
The implications of 'Unshrink' go further than the workplace, management, touching all aspects of daily life. To 'unshrink' we need the space in which to grow - by exposing the shrinking myths for what they are it begins to create just such a space - and surely this can only be good for business!
I've found this a useful reference book at work, it stays in my laptop bag and has been used several times, especially when working with the teams at work. I think this is the type of book that needs ordering for each and every employee.
This book really comes to life, a real motivator in a climate that needs such a positiuve stance.
I totally reccomend it.
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