This isn't the time to Blink.
It's time to
-- before it's too late.
Outraged by the downward spiral of American intellect and culture, Michael R. LeGault offers the flip side of Malcolm Gladwell's bestselling phenomenon, Blink, which theorized that our best decision-making is done on impulse, without factual knowledge or critical analysis. If bestselling books are advising us to not think, LeGault argues, it comes as no surprise that sharp, incisive reasoning has become a lost art in the daily life of Americans. Somewhere along the line, the Age of Reason morphed into the Age of Emotion; this systemic erosion is costing time, money, jobs, and lives in the twenty-first century, leading to less fulfillment and growing dysfunction. LeGault provides a bold, controversial, and objective analysis of the causes and solutions for:
the erosion of growth and market share at many established American companies, big and small, which appear to have less chance of achieving the dynamic expansion of the past
permissive parenting and low standards that have caused an academic crisis among our children -- body weights rise while grades plummet
America's growing political polarization, which is a result of our reluctance to think outside our comfort zone
faulty planning and failure to act on information at all levels that has led to preventable disasters, such as the Hurricane Katrina meltdown
a culture of image and instant gratification, fed by reality shows and computer games, that has rendered curiosity of the mind and spirit all but obsolete
stress, aversion to taking risks, and therapy that are replacing the traditional American "can do" mind-set.
Far from perpetuating the stereotype of the complacent American, LeGault's no-holds-barred analysis asks more of us than any other societal overview: America can fulfill its greatest potential starting today, and we need smart teachers, smart health care workers, smart sales representatives, smart students, smart mechanics, and smart leaders to make it happen. Now is the time to THINK! -- because a mind truly is a terrible thing to waste.
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October 23, 2006
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Excerpt from Think! by Michael R. LeGault
Don't Blink, Think
The company, a medium-sized automotive supplier based in Ohio, was already spinning in the upper regions of a vortex heading directly down the tube. What the company did sounded simple enough. It took glass windshields, put a strip of rubber around the perimeter, and shipped them to major automotive manufacturers. An operator placed the glass into a machine, and the machine injected melted rubber around the edge, then quickly cooled it to make it stick. The problem was this: The glass was breaking. The scrap rate mounted ' 10 percent, 20 percent. Little bar graphs posted in the cafeteria illustrated the amount of money the company was losing each week. Employees blinked uncomprehendingly when the figure reached a million dollars. Was anyone doing anything
The company was doing all it could, or at least it felt it was. It hired a young, dynamic, university-educated plant manager. Intuition their guide, the plant manager and his team of floor supervisors and engineers attacked the problem. They pulled the dies ' large steel molds into which the glass was placed ' from every machine and scanned them with lasers to confirm dimensions to a thousandth of an inch. They ran quality control checks on all shipments of glass they received from other companies. They installed new process control software on the machines to continuously monitor the internal condition of each machine. Day and night, one or more engineers paced the factory, poring over printouts, making adjustments to the machines. Some days, on a few machines, there appeared to be progress, then just as quickly, things spun out of control and it seemed every other windshield was being devoured by mad machines determined to put the company out of business. Hunches about the cause of the problem were getting the company nowhere.
The head office called an emergency meeting. They were giving the plant one last chance to fix itself. They slid the plant manager the business card of a guru. His fee was $1 million. It seemed cheap.
The guru asked for the scrap rates of each machine operator. The company had the scrap rates for each machine, but not for the operators, who were rotated on machines on a daily, or even hourly, basis. The guru spent one month gathering the data. He spent an equal amount of time plotting and analyzing the numbers. Engineers at the plant still intuitively believed the problem was somehow related to the equipment, but the guru, examining the plots and data, noticed something odd ' the women operators had much higher scrap rates than the men. But there was an anomaly: Two male operators also had high scrap rates. He asked to meet the two men. They were both slightly built and on the short side. A million-dollar light went on inside the guru's head.