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The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking Paperback – July 13, 2009
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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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"Martin makes a compelling argument for a paradoxical approach to problem-solving." -- BusinessWeek, November 26, 2007
"...compelling...the thesis that fresh thought processes are required to deal with the world s contradictions and complexities rings true." -- The Financial Times, December 19, 2007--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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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....
First as a management consultant, then as dean of a business school, Roger Martin spent 15 years studying leaders who have exemplary records of success. He looked for shared themes. All of them had intelligence, talent, and a bent toward innovation. No surprise, there. But the common trait that rang the loudest bell was what Martin calls "the predisposition and the capacity to hold two diametrically opposing ideas" at once, "and then, without panicking or simply settling for one alternative or the other, they're able to produce a synthesis that is superior to either opposing idea."
Martin refers to this as "integrative" thinking. Creating a metaphor from a physical feature that distinguishes human beings from nearly every other creature - the opposable thumb - he says everyone is born with an "opposable mind." And the exciting part, he suggests, is that just as we can become more adept at using our thumbs, with patience and practice we can enhance the ability to use our opposable minds to solve complex problems.
Martin provides multiple examples of the mental gymnastics required to strengthen one's problem solving capacity. This book is not easy reading, and it's certainly not the kind of fare that most people would take to the beach. But it's well worth the exercise.
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I got the point and enjoyed reading most of the cases.Read more