Integrative Thinking for Leaders.

Today on a chilly tuesday evening, the Dean of Rotman school of Management - Roger L. Martin gave a talk about his new book at Bangalore International center,Bangalore. The book is called The Opposable Mind.

The talk was scheduled at 6.45 pm and the hall was filling up with many leaders of Bangalore. I expected a young crowd to be preset, but to my surprise more than half of the visitors were over 40 or 50 years old. Many leaders of B-schools, Business and professions such as Architecutre were present to listen to the talk about Leadership.

I was first of all intreguied, about what could, a Professor with degree from Harvard Business school have to offer to old and battle worn people sitting in the hall, to my delight he had some very insightfull ideas to share with us.

He mentioned, that he interviewed around 50 leaders of businesses and found remarkable similarity of thinking in most of the successful leaders. There are lots of books out there that talk about, how a particular leader was successful, but this Professor Roger mentions is mostly based on context. what does "Based on Context" mean?, it means that, if you find yourself in exactly the same situation as the one mentioned in the how-i-did-it books, the advise there might not be very helpfull to you, in you present circumstance.

So his work focuses on how these leaders think and not a how-to get same results book.

Next, he mentioned a what the opposable mind means, he drew his inspiration from opposable thumbs that humans have accuired that has give us an evolutionary advantage in survival. So the opposable mind is...

have the predisposition and the capacity to hold two diametrically opposing ideas in their heads, [and that they are] able to produce a synthesis that is superior to either opposing idea.

Professor then goes on to explain how we are thought in our education system to just work with models and not come up with creative solutions.

Here are a few interesting points

  • He defined success very well - the results that are got , to the actions that you have taken undertaken. i.e You are successful if you get the results that you set out to acheive.
  • Leaders have high aspirations and are highly successful.
  • Mastery and originality are the indicators of successful leaders. i.e in the long run, you get good at what you do - Mastery. But it is Originality that is mark of great leaders. Example: Piccaso. So ask your self every week end - Did i do something original?
  • The main purpose of leaders is to come up with creative solutions to models that are contradictory. A very good example he gave was of, ICICI chairman Kamalnath, he had to choose between growing the bank abroad by M&A , or growing locally in India. To his Kamalnath decided to grow with Indian dispora abroad. This was Integrative thinking.

This made lot of sense to me. The Opposable mind, is one of the finest business books that i have come to know of late. In the same league of - The halo effect, Fooled by randomness. I hope you enjoyed this writeup. open for comments.


DanvilleVa said...

Wow. I'm sorry I missed this talk, but glad you were there and wrote about it. I think the part about thinking like a leader and the opposeable mind are great. Would love to hear more!

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