To be effective for any purpose, brainpower needs development through training and technique. As a consultant Rhodes offers both, but as an author he offers techniques - in the form of profiles and maps - to those who wish to develop their mental ability for problem solving. The emphasis is on learning how - not what - to think. Rhodes maintains that inter-departmental misunderstandings will be eased by a company-wide approach to thinking skills. For those accustomed to trouble with the creative gang in R and D, this should sound quite a good idea.
Rhodes frequently refers to his "hands-on" work with managers. His work is undoubtedly more accessible in practice than through the pages of this book. The latter suffers because the vagaries of the publisher - which reproduces diagrams too far away from the relevant text - and because Rhodes's own writing style is overladen with analogy, in an effort to make his work more readily understandable. But these criticism in no way detract from the content of the book.
There are lessons in Rhodes's work not just for managers in the workplace but for all of us in every aspect of our lives. Indeed, the author proceeds on the premise that thinking is no longer a luxury to be reserved for an isolated top management. With the need for ever faster reactions to changing conditions, thinking skills need to be developed on an individual and group basis, and become a sharp tool used throughout every organisation. The end result of well structured thought, remember, is effective action - for thinkers are doers too.
Two young secondary school pupils, introduced to Rhodes's work by one of their teachers, found it easy enough to assimilate. They kept records of the teaching style and content of their classes for a fortnight, and then reported their findings. Just as Rhodes found among the thousands of managers with whom he has worked, there was a great deal of red (facts) and a lot of blue (judgement) about, but a distinct shortage on the green side - that is, imagination and creativity.
(Clare Lorenz is a writer and researcher.)