Detox Prism

Through the Detox Prism: Exploring Organizational Failures and Design Responses

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Through the Detox Prism Book

This short book throws some light on the modern-day pathologies that are crippling the productivity, resilience, innovation and survival of our private, public and social organizations, and therefore of our standard of living.
It probes the proximate sources of dysfunction at five interfaces: between the organization and its employees (x-inefficiency), its value chain upstream (escaping fault), its socio-physical environment (externalities), its governance regime (hijacking by certain groups), and its ethical context (moral vacancy). Toxicities at these five interfaces are interrelated and moral vacancy is of central importance in this complex of relationships that may be the source of something like two-thirds to three-quarters of the observed waste. Our inquiry, built around the Detox Prism, gauges the toxicity at these five interfaces, probes their sources, and suggests useful families of design repairs based on a mix of mechanisms of practical use in the different sectors.
This detox perspective is based on a systematic effort to lift both analysts and practitioners with the skyhook of a crane in order to broaden their outlook, to lengthen their time horizon, and to help them escape from mental prisons to inspire effective and practical design thinking.

Gilles Paquet

Gilles Paquet is Professor Emeritus at the Telfer School of Management and a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre on Governance of the University of Ottawa. He is also Editor in Chief of , an electronic journal reaching some 10,000 subscribers. For more information, see his website
Tim Ragan is an entrepreneur and transformation consultant to CEOs and their executive teams. He has over 20 years of experience in a management and executive capacity with global companies and startups. He has also taught business process redesign and governance at the Telfer School of Management. For more information, visit his blog at


About detoxification as a new way of thinking

Chapter 1
X-inefficiencies: the interface of management and labour
Sources of the pathologies: cheating and shirking
Redesign required: incentive rewards and conventions of trust
A primer on conventions
Illustrative cases: Lincoln Electric and ROWE

Chapter 2
Escaping fault: the opacity of the production network
Sources of the pathologies: opaqueness and irresponsibility
Redesign required: SP(I)N and intrinsic motivations
Illustrative cases: cell phone towers and conflict diamonds

Chapter 3
Externalities: the organization and its socio-physical environment
Externalities as pathologies or gifts
Sources of the pathologies: inadequate arrangements
Redesign required: prices and sensitivities
Illustrative cases: environmental externalities

Chapter 4
Hijacking: the challenges of stewardship
Sources of the pathologies: hijacking
Redesign required: value-adding, scoreboards and corporate forms
Illustrative cases: finessing corporate governance

Chapter 5
Moral vacancy: the burden/power of sociality and ultra-sociality
Sources of the pathologies: cultural and moral vacancy
Redesign required: cultural and moral corridors
Illustrative case: a new sense of honour as lever

Chapter 6
Putting it all together
Crippling epistemologies
The need for a crane
The Detox Prism: a diamond perspective
The map changes the landscape
A research agenda

Conclusion In praise of design thinking

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Quality Paperback, 5.5×8.5” 123 pg, Publication date: December 2012, ISBN 978-1-9274650-6-6: $15.95

Through the Detox Prism: Exploring Organizational Failures and Design Responses

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