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The Box Factor

17 Aug, 2011 01:00 IST

The Box Factor

Through a host of engaging examples and arguments, Santosh Sharma discusses how it is no longer enough to just think out of the box

Kavitha Srinivasa


At a time when most of us would like to credit ourselves with out-of-the box thinking, author Santosh Sharma has come up with a startling view. According to Sharma, it is no longer enough to think out of the box. A time has come when the boxes need to be dissolved and repositioned. This stance makes his book Next What's In the world's first book on dissolving all the boxes. 
Sharma offers a take on compelling situations through comprehensible illustrations. Just when most optimists urge people to perceive the glass as half-full, Sharma accepts the glass as it is. It is neither half-full nor half empty. According to him, once you accept the glass as it is, it results in self-realisation.

The book strikes a balance between a management book and self help book and to that extent, it would probably attract a wider audience. A reference to the fact that good leaders create more leaders and not followers is interesting. This is interspersed with personal anecdotes. Sharma narrates a situation when he attended an E&Y conference in Goa, where he managed to squeeze in time to sit down on the beach and admire nature at its best.

Next What's In seems to have opened a new line of thinking, where the box becomes passé since it confines people and organisations, which are innovating low cost high class products. A case in point is the IndiOne line of hotels. Even wealth which is a relative term, takes a different meaning, as the author makes a reference to the late C.K. Prahlad, who suggested that fortune and innovation happen for people at the bottom of the pyramid.

One of the most engaging chapters of the book is the one on innovation. Sharma points to circumstances where everyone across the ladder needs to reinvent to remain focused. To many, Sharma might come across as the new age thinker, someone who takes the reader through ups-and-downs of life. Somewhere fact and fiction merge as the author urges readers to relate, integrate, internalise and intertwine various parts of the book with their lives. Established myths are questioned and there's an attempt to break it down.

The book is easy to navigate since it is divided into four parts. The book unfolds with Foundation, where the author compels the reader to think about the direction he is taking in life. What is interesting is that the author conveys his point by illustrating examples like genetically modified corps, which do nothing but spread toxins in a world where food supply is fast depleting. There's an unmistakable philosophical element as Sharma dwells on mental boxes (read solutions for a better tomorrow). The second section on Concepts attempts to break many established myths. The third section, Practical Implications in day-to-day Life reflects on future management, leadership and competition. Designing the future the last part of the book talks about designing the purpose in life and achieving it. In the midst of all this, there's a mention of God, seen as a societal belief, bound by faith. Gradually, religion is translated as an upbringing, created in different stages. The author offers similarities between the universe and the human thought — both take birth, grow and dissolve — with time.

All through the language remains simple and lucid, and the presentation blends where charts and illustrations make the book lively. Illustrations of bonsai are used to depict the stunted growth of desire while is contrasted to a fully grown tree which symbolises complete growth.

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