The Arbinger Institute’s “The Outward Mindset: How to Change Lives and Transform Organizations”

The Arbinger Institute’s The Outward Mindset: How to Change Lives and Transform Organizations begins in the same manner that many books of its type do with a thesis statement of sorts outlining its ambitions. They are not modest. Dr. C. Terry Warner first founded the institute in 1979 and carried his work in the area of human sciences into the realm of practical application for individuals and organizations alike. The heart of this book, as with all of the institute’s work, takes aim at deconstructing what it means to be a human being in relation to ourselves and the world around us. Much of our lives are marred by countless self-deceptions large and small and when we are able to shed the shackles of biased perception we take major steps towards integrating ourselves more fully with others and experience itself. Moreover, we are more productive and our industry serves a larger purpose rather than confirming our internal take on life.


The Outward Mindset, despite its academic origins, recognizes the importance of making its argument in a way all readers can understand. There is no tangled language, tortured syntax, or jungles of jargon for interested parties to hack through so they might better understand the book’s concepts and proposed approaches. Instead, The Arbinger Institute achieves an ideal balance between intelligent discourse on the subject and stories illustrating how our mindset, fully realized or otherwise, can affect a wide gamut of human endeavor. Anyone can relate to this book; it isn’t a closed experience requiring prior grounding in the subject and even laymen unfamiliar with its theories can derive considerable worth from reading this book.

The book doesn’t include much in the way of exercises designed to reinforce its points but it does make effective use of illustrations and diagrams that help clarify its ideas. There isn’t an abundance of such moments scattered throughout the volume; there is a judicious sensibility guiding this book’s construction and composition extending to far past its information and taking in its presentation as well. These occasional visual representations of the institute’s methodology are important elements of the book, but not indispensible.

The aforementioned construction of the book is one of its core strengths. The Arbinger Institute has worked many years, nay decades, refining their ideas for public consumption and they are set forth in a coherent and cogent way that, as pointed out earlier, never strikes a dry scholarly note. The inclusion of non-fiction stories is another of its masterstrokes. The book, without question, would still have considerable value without them, but bringing such illustrations of the practical application of mindset in our lives is a huge plus for the book.


The Outward Mindset: How to Change Lives and Transform Organizations isn’t light reading despite its prose style and will challenge many readers pre-existing notions regarding the term and ask them to move outside their intellectual comfort zone. This is where real change becomes possible. It is the end result of the institute’s decades-long service in the field of human sciences that deserves to command a large audience.

Michael Rand

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