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The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking Hardcover – Oct 29 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 210 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Press; 1 edition (Oct. 29 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422118924
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422118924
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.8 x 2.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 381 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #28,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Suhail Zubaid AHMAD TOP 500 REVIEWER on Sept. 4 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While there are many books in the market that either detail the character of successful organizations or biographies of successful people, this book shows how can one learn to use integrative thinking to become successful. After reading the book, I was able to put the approach into practice immediately regarding a problem at hand.

While discussing great leaders, e.g. Martha Graham, George F. Kennan, Isadore Sharp, A.G. Lafley, Lee-Chin, Bob Young, Jack Welch, Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan, etc., Roger Martin concentrates on the thinking skills rather than the doing skills of leaders. He terms the thinking style of these successful leaders 'Integrative thinking'.

Integrative thinking involves four steps: salience (which allows more features of a problem to to be considered salient, thereby introducing complexity), causality (which encompasses multi-directional and nonlinear relationships), architecture (seeing the whole while working on the parts), and resolution (searching for creative resolution of tensions). Each of these is explored in separate chapters. A framework for building integrative thinking capacity is presented involving stance (who am I in the world and what am I trying to accomplish), tools (with what tools and models do I organize my thinking and understand the world?) and experiences (with what experiences can I build my repertoire of sensitivities and skills).

The author then presents three tools for integrative thinking i.e. Generative Reasoning (as opposed to commonly practiced Declarative Reasoning (i.e. Deductive and Inductive), Causal Modeling (to get from the current state to the desired end-state), and Assertive Inquiry (seeking information about other people's models). The author discusses how each of these tools can and is being taught for example at Rotman School of Management at University of Toronto.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on Dec 28 2007
Format: Hardcover
As I began to read this brilliant book, I was reminded of what Doris Kearns reveals about Abraham Lincoln in Team of Rivals. Specifically, that following his election as President in 1860, Lincoln assembled a cabinet whose members included several of his strongest political opponents: Edwin M. Stanton as Secretary of War (who had called Lincoln a "long armed Ape"), William H. Seward as Secretary of State (who was preparing his acceptance speech when Lincoln was nominated), Salmon P. Chase as Secretary of the Treasury (who considered Lincoln in all respects his inferior), and Edward Bates as Attorney General who viewed Lincoln as a well-meaning but incompetent administrator but later described him as "very near being a perfect man."

Presumably Roger Martin agrees with me that Lincoln possessed what Martin views as "the predisposition and the capacity to hold two [or more] diametrically opposed ideas" in his head and then "without panicking or simply settling for one alternative or the other," was able to "produce a synthesis that is superior to either opposing idea." Throughout his presidency, Lincoln frequently demonstrated integrative thinking, a "discipline of consideration and synthesis [that] is the hallmark of exceptional businesses [as well as of democratic governments] and those who lead them."

The great leaders whom Martin discusses (e.g. Martha Graham, George F. Kennan, Isadore Sharp, A.G. Lafley, Lee-Chin, and Bob Young) developed a capacity to consider what Thomas C. Chamberlain characterizes as "multiple working hypotheses" when required to make especially complicated decisions. Like Lincoln, they did not merely tolerate contradictory points of view, they encouraged them.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Prasad Sristi on Jan. 3 2008
Format: Hardcover
Have you read "Good to Great" and wanted to dig deeper on level-5 leadership? Have you read Jack Welch, Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan and had an uneasy feeling that the solutions in their books were a tad simplistic? Then you must read Roger Martin's "The Opposable Mind".

The author does a great job of getting to the core of what makes successful leaders. It was an "Aha" moment when the author reveals how copying great leaders' decisions may not be the right thing for your situation and how some great leaders such as Jack Welch might not be able to reveal the thinking behind their decisions.

I would highly recommend this book if you are looking to gain a deeper understanding of business leadership. However, some amount of comfort with academic language and abstraction is necessary to get through this book.
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