I’m not sure about you, but the majority of my reading space isn’t dedicated to books about thinking. Hand me a novel or theology book, or really most anything other than a book about thinking.
Maybe you’re like me, when someone asks, “What are you thinking?” you respond, “Nothing.” I’ve told myself a narrative that I don’t think much (which can still be true at times). So, it was odd for me to pickup Roger Martin’s The Opposable Mind: Winning Through Integrative Thinking.
The title alone might be worth checking this book out from your library. Who doesn’t want to win?
For most of my life I thought winning in thinking was reserved for a chosen few. The cream of the crop. The gifted ones, whom I should quote and reference, but never aspire to their intellectual heights.
I’m probably the only one, but in the off chance I’m not. On the off chance that you’ve shared this thought at some time, you should check out this book.
Martin looks at innovative thinkers in various industries, teasing out their thought processes through interviews, and constructing a model for creativity in thinking.
This isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” 5 steps to better thinking. It’s better than that because Martin tries to lead the reader into a new way of thought and self-reflection; one that will hopefully stick long after the book is shelved.
Integrative thinkers don’t settle for either/or or black/white options. They wade into the complexity of the situation and come out with the better result because of their refusal to settle for the immediately visible options.
Martin doesn’t downplay the difficulty of thinking this way, but he does believe anyone can train themselves to be a great integrative thinker. And the best part is you can start today, with the next obstacle, dilemma, or question you come across at work
or at home.
One of the best takeaways was the realization that holding a “solution” loosely, allowing time to question and poke holes in it without getting defensive and argumentative, is a necessary key to better thinking and outcomes.
Obvious, I know, but even if I “knew” it, I didn’t pract
ice it prior to reading The Opposable Mind.
So, how could integrative thinking shape your work? Your workplace? As a divinity school grad and someone passionate about the church, I wonder how church meetings and decision making would be transformed by this approach.
Instead of schism-inducing fights between the “red te
am” and “blue team” in the new carpet war (why is this always the example of church conflict?), what if churches used integrative thinking to find a better solution?
If you’re interested in evaluating your approach to thinking, check this book out, I’m willing to bet it will change your mind (and maybe even your work) for the better.