Home > Articles > Business & Management > Personal Development

This chapter is from the book


Membership in human groups is a blessing and a curse. The pressure to conform to the dominant thinking in a group is an inescapable problem. It is hard to improve one's thinking when forced to work with others who routinely assume that their unsound thinking is sound. What is more, we should never forget that within corporate and other organizational structures the full range of human emotions, motivations, and interests play themselves out. The flaws of the group and the flaws of the individuals in the group interact in a multitude of ways. In all of this, there is commonly a struggle for power taking place. Both group self-deception and the negative personal characteristics of the individuals (in the group) have an impact on corporate and organizational life.

To think effectively in corporate and organizational settings, we must understand, therefore, not only the general logic of these structures, but also the specific logic of the particular organizations in which we are living and working. In the privacy of our minds we must learn to ask the right questions. We must focus on essential facts. We must decide on our personal priorities. We must take the long view. We must be realistic and practical. We must be comfortable with probabilities, and we must be willing to test our ideas and change them in the light of our critically analyzed experience.

If we can successfully persuade organizational leadership to work toward a culture of critical thinking, both we and the organization can benefit in a lifelong way. Here are some important conditions for success:

  1. The leadership must consist in essentially rational persons with an abiding recognition that they, and everyone else in the organization, are capable of thinking and performing at a higher level than they are at present.

  2. The leadership must be intellectually humble, and hence, recognize mistakes they have made in the past, the limitations of their own present knowledge, and have a desire to grow and develop as thinkers.

  3. The leadership must take a long-term view of building a culture of critical thinking within the organization. Short-term thinking must be used only as a stopgap measure and should not be typical of the thinking of the organization.

  4. The leadership must be willing to release those persons who will actively resist making critical thinking an essential element in the organization's mission.

  5. All key personnel must, over an extended period of time, become proficient in analyzing and evaluating thinking.

  6. All key personnel must strive to be explicit as to the thinking (especially the assumptions) they are using in making key decisions. They must also be willing to fair-mindedly consider the pro's and con's of alternative possible decisions.

  7. All key personnel must actively invite alternative points of view and strive to incorporate the strengths and insights of those views.

  8. The language of critical thinking must be actively adopted as the language in which policies and decisions will be discussed.

  9. Critical thinking will be used in the conduct of meetings on all issues. (What is our purpose? What is the key question here? What data do we need to make this decision? Is there another way to interpret these data? What are we taking for granted here? Do we need to question that? What other points of view do we need to consider?).

  10. All key personnel and departments will operate with the assumption that whatever we do, and however high our present level of performance, we can perform at a higher level (tomorrow, next week, by mid year).

  11. All policies, rules, regulations, and procedures are open to being questioned and replaced by a better policy, rule, regulation, or procedure. No policy, rule, regulation, or procedure will be maintained simply because it is traditional. All will be kept to a minimum. All must effectively serve a clear-cut purpose.

  12. All attempts to build domains of power within the organization that do not clearly support the mission of the organization will be resisted.

  13. All communications within the organization will be models of clarity, accuracy, brevity, and relevance.

  14. All employees will maintain a portfolio of self-assessment, in which personal strengths and weaknesses are documented, as well as strategies adopted to improve one's performance and effectiveness.

  15. In hiring personnel, an emphasis should be placed on candidates who are open-minded, willing to consider constructive criticism, and having a low level of ego-involvement in their work and relationships. During the probation period, special steps should be taken to verify these qualities.

Obviously, excellent planning and well-designed staff development in critical thinking could play a significant part in making these policies a practical reality. It is doubtful that significant changes in the thinking of an organization can take place without excellent planning, long-term commitment, and expertise in such a shift. As Stephen Covey (1992) puts it:

I have long advocated a natural, gradual, day-by-day, step-by-step, sequential approach to personal development. My feeling is that any product or program—whether it deals with losing weight or mastering skills—that promises "quick, free, instant, and easy" results is probably not based on correct principles. (p. 29)

Peter Senge (1990) puts it this way:

Recognizing that most new ideas in American management get caught up in the dynamics of the fad cycle leads to some sobering questions. What if the time required to understand, apply, and eventually assimilate the new capabilties suggested by a "new idea" is longer than the fad cycle itself? If organizations have an "attention span" of only one or two years (some might say one or two months), is it impossible to learn things that might require five or ten years? (p. x)

In any case, whether an organization is or is not open to significant change, our first responsibility must be to the integrity of our own lives as persons and thinkers. We serve others best by being true to ourselves. We must play the most positive role we can play in any organization of which we are a part, but when rigidity sets in, the most positive role we can play may be to leave and go our separate way.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020