The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking Hardcover – Oct 29 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
In this primer on the problem-solving power of "integrative thinking," Martin draws on more than 50 management success stories, including the masterminds behind The Four Seasons, Proctor & Gamble and eBay, to demonstrate how, like the opposable thumb, the "opposable mind"-Martin's term for the human brain's ability "to hold two conflicting ideas in constructive tension"-is an intellectually advantageous evolutionary leap through which decision-makers can synthesize "new and superior ideas." Using this strategy, Martin focuses on what leaders think, rather than what they do. Among anecdotes and examples steering readers to change their thinking about thinking, Martin gives readers specific strategies for understanding their own "personal knowledge system" (by parsing inherent qualities of "stance," "tools" and "experience"), as well as for taking advantage of the "richest source of new insight into a problem," the "opposing model." Each of the eight chapters is well organized, making for a clear and cumulative read. Part inspiration, part logic lesson, this title will provide fresh perspective for anyone prepared to dust off her thinking cap.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Roger Martin is dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and a professor of strategic management at Rotman.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
The Integrative Thinking approach worked especially well with my Grade 11 Computer Science classes. The solutions that the students generated were spectacular, which made the... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Kevin Olds
I first got this book from my local library branch and then realized I need to have it in my personal library.Published on July 10 2013 by Najamuddin Mohammed
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