People and organizations are perfectly capable of making the most outrageous missteps. But, how does a person, organization, or society know that it is committing an error? And, how can we tell that when others are steering us down wrong paths? Far too many institutions have enormous incentives to let us devise elaborate solutions to the wrong problems. As Thomas Pynchon said,” If they can get you asking the wrong questions, then they don’t have to worry about the answers.”
My latest book, forthcoming in October 2009, Dirty Rotten Strategies: How We Trick Ourselves and Others into Solving the Wrong Problems Precisely, delves into how organizations and interest groups lure us into solving the “wrong problems” with intricate, but inaccurate, solutions. My co-author Abraham Silvers and I argue that we can never be sure if we have set our sights on the wrong problem, but there are definite signals that can alert us to this possibility.
While explaining how to detect and avoid dirty rotten strategies, we put the media, healthcare, national security, academia, and organized religion under the microscope and examine the failure of these major institutions to accurately define our most pressing problems. For example, the U.S. healthcare industry strives to be the most technologically advanced in the world, but, our cutting-edge system does not ensure top-quality care to the largest number of people.
Dirty Rotten Strategies is a bipartisan call for anyone who is ready to think outside the box to address our major concerns as a society—starting today. More information, including reviews and the table of contents, are available through Stanford University Press.
Ian and co-author Abraham Silvers have spoken about the tenets in Dirty Rotten Strategies before audiences at Sun Microsystems and other corporations. Contact Ian about speaking at your organization.