Customer Reviews

43
4.3 out of 5 stars
The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking
Format: HardcoverChange
Price:$21.69 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

Showing 1-10 of 24 reviews (5 star)show all reviews
67 of 73 people found the following review helpful
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. Only in this way could they and their associates "face constructively the tension of opposing ideas and, instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, generate a creative resolution of the tension [whatever its causes may be] in the form of a new idea that contains elements of the opposing ideas but is superior to each."

This process of consideration is based on a quite different model than the more commonly employed scientific method based on, as Martin explains, the working hypothesis that is used "to test the validity of a single explanatory concept through trial and error and experimentation." He rigorously examines the process of integrative thinking in terms of four constituent parts: salience, causality, architecture, and resolution. He devotes a separate chapter to each, citing dozens of real-world examples, and then (in Chapter 5), he introduces a framework within which his reader can also develop integrative thinking capacity.

For me, some of the most interesting and most valuable material is provided in Chapter 7 as Martin explains how integrative thinkers "connect the dots." He cites Taddy Blecher (co-founder of CIDA City Campus, an innovative South African university) as one example. I think the details are best revealed within their context. Suffice to say now that for Blecher, "existing models are to his mind just models, each with something useful to offer." However, his objective was to find a better model of post-secondary education and Martin examines Blecher's use of "two of the three most powerful tools at the disposal of integrative thinkers," generative reasoning and causal modeling, to achieve that objective. He also discusses a third tool, assertive inquiry, and offers aspiring integrative thinkers a few lessons along the way.

In the next and final chapter, Martin suggests that "mastery without originality becomes rote" whereas "originality without mastery is flaky if not entirely random." Successful leaders integrate both while strengthening their skills and nurturing their imagination. They realize that existing models can be informative but are imperfect. They leverage opposing models, convinced that better models exist and can be found. And they "wade into complexity," allowing themselves time to be creative as they expand and nourish their personal knowledge systems. Throughout their own process of discovery, readers will be guided and informed by what Roger Martin so generously and eloquently shares in this brilliant book.

Those who share my high regard for it are urged to check out David Whyte's The Heart Aroused and Judgment co-authored by Noel Tichy and Warren Bennis as well as Howard Gardner's Five Minds for the Future, Justin Menkes's Executive Intelligence, Richard Ogle's Smart World, Albert Borgmann's Holding On to Reality, and Gary Hamel's The Future of Management.
33 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 24, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I strongly recommend this book as a tool for sharpening one's ability to create value. Martin's model (with examples) for: 1) never accepting existing solutions as permanent, 2) notice a wider rage of desirable benefits as being mandatory to include in the ideal solution, 3) have the temerity to face any complexity in creating a new alternative superior to existent alternatives (to include more of the salient benefits, to resolve more of the previous constraints). A sample:
"... integrative thinkers don't take the easy way out and pick the least-worst alternative; they view the creation of a truly attractive option as both their goal and their personal responsibility. They learn from each option without being bound by its limitations, and they use the insights gained to break through to an entirely new model that creatively resolves the tensions between existing models."
I also loved his discussion of how one's intellectual "stance" is under one's control and that one can objectively analyze one's own thinking structure/capacity and optimize it. Martin points out that most people rarely analyze their own approach to thinking. Since thought is the antecedent to action, thinking about how to sharpen your thinking (which this book helps you do) will lead to more effective action.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Based on extensive interviews, the author focuses on the thinking skills rather than the doing skills of leaders. Integrative thinking is the topic. This types of thinking enables an exploration of opposing ideas in order to reach innovative solutions. Integrative thinking involves four steps: salience (allowing more features to be considered, introducing complexity), causality (multidimensional and nonlinear), architecture (seeing the whole while working on the parts), and resolution (creative resolution of tensions). Each of these is explored in separate chapters, along with the obstacles of simplification and specialization, forces working against integrative thinking. A framework for building integrative thinking capacity is presented involving stance, tools and experiences, and the author discusses how each can and is being taught. This is an excellent journey into effective thinking, whether by a leader or anyone engaged in enterprise. Very highly recommended.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 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.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on November 12, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Martin has an interesting thesis here. His whole focus can really be summed up as that the most successful people don't think in terms of tradeoffs. Rather, they can hold two diametrically opposing ideas in their heads, then produce a synthesis which is superior to either opposing idea.

In thinking about this, I've seen a lot of this in life. I think the book gives a great example:
- In a quote from A.G. Lafley - successful P&G CEO: "Haven't found a creative resolution that meets my standards. That's not the world's fault. I just haven't thought hard enough yet." - exactly makes this point; he doesn't think in tradeoffs - he looks for a synthesis of what he's seen for a new approach.

A lot of what is called "disruptive innovation" today came as this sort of thinking. Hey, you're reading this on Amazon! Do you think Bezos things in terms of tradeoffs - or does he take opposing ideas and blend them into an innovative approach? Food for thought....
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on October 20, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Thinking determines actions, and actions determine outcomes, thus how you think is critical to the outcomes you seek to achieve. The most successful thinkers in the business world think in a manner different from others in four ways. They take in more information, rather than attempting to simplify. They see complex cause-and-effect relationships, rather than assuming linear causality. They envision the whole, rather than attempting to solve problems part by part. They find resolutions that often incorporate a "third way" rather than making either-or tradeoffs. Achieving this ability is open to us all using a three level approach. Define your stance in the world and how you view the world around you. Incorporate thinking tools that allow you to organize and understand the world. Accumulate experiences that adjust your world stance and hone your tools. This book has been among the most powerful in influencing how I think.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
"Why didn't I think of that?" is a common reaction to other people's creative breakthroughs. In hindsight, the idea looks so simple, so elegant, so right, that you can't believe you missed it. But for some reason you did. Why? Can this sort of creativity be taught? Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, answers both questions in this beautiful systematization of creative problem solving. The good news is, it can be taught and Martin is a wonderful teacher. We think his ideas are so clear and logical, so obviously right, that you'll wonder why you didn't think of them.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on February 9, 2015
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
As we muddle through complexity, the search is for simplicity. Instead, complexity should be embraced for helping us think for innovative models. Deeply appreciate the sensible testimonies laid out in reasonable models that help reaching profound outcomes. From managing interwoven systems to seeking normalcy in juggling a household, this book is a useful reference guide for taking one new approaches.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on March 9, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
This book is well written and easy to understand. This was a required reading however, buying the book was not. After reading several pages provided by our instructor, I had to buy it.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
on April 8, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
A colleague recommended this book to me. I loved Martin's discussion of generative thinking ("embracing the mess") which is comprised of inductive, deductive, and abductive logic. Opposable mind thinkers weigh the alternatives, refuse to accept the options, and create new solutions to make sense of the mess.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed
Change Masters
Change Masters by Rosabeth Moss Kanter (Paperback - March 15, 1985)
$24.64

Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations
Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations by Clay Shirky (Paperback - February 24, 2009)
$12.18

 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Your Recently Viewed Items and Featured Recommendations 
 

After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in.