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Creating Great Choices: A Leader's Guide to Integrative Thinking Hardcover – Illustrated, Sept. 19 2017
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Move Beyond Trade-Off Thinking
When it comes to our hardest choices, it can seem as though making trade-offs is inevitable. But what about those crucial times when accepting the obvious trade-off just isn't good enough? What do we do when the choices in front of us don't get us what we need? In those cases, rather than choosing the least worst option, we can use the models in front of us to create a new and superior answer. This is integrative thinking.
First introduced by world-renowned strategic thinker Roger Martin in The Opposable Mind, integrative thinking is an approach to problem solving that uses opposing ideas as the basis for innovation. Now, in Creating Great Choices, Martin and his longtime thinking partner Jennifer Riel vividly illustrate how integrative thinking works, and how to do it.
The book includes fresh stories of successful integrative thinkers that will demystify the process of creative problem solving, as well as practical tools and exercises to help readers engage with the ideas. And it lays out the authors' four-step methodology for creating great choices, which can be applied in virtually any context. The result is a replicable, thoughtful approach to finding a "third and better way" to make important choices in the face of unacceptable trade‐offs.
Insightful and instructive, Creating Great Choices blends storytelling, theory, and hands-on advice to help any leader or manager facing a tough choice.
"…a refreshing and novel twist on the underlying cognitive processes of great decision-making…sound and wonderfully articulated." -- CHOICE, the publication of the American Library Association
"useful management guide to decision making" -- Engineering and Technology Magazine, The Institution of Engineering and Technology
"The Opposable Mind introduced the idea of 'integrative thinking'…[In Creating Great Choices], Riel and Martin turn this insight into a method that they say everyone can learn and practise. In the process they interweave the latest in behavioural and design thinking with new examples from Lego to Unilever." -- Financial Times
"If you're trying to plan an organization's future, this book contains multitudes. Two talented strategists offer vivid stories to unlock your creativity, strong evidence to challenge your assumptions, and practical exercises to sharpen your thinking." -- Adam Grant, LinkedIn
"Roger Martin has been recognized in our annual business book awards more than any other author… Perhaps the only thing more impressive than the consistently high quality of that prolific output is range." -- 800 CEO READ, Editor's Choice
"Making good choices is central to business and personal success...This new book … focuses on the process of learning and practice, the methodology, and the tools and skills leaders need to cultivate integrative thinking." -- IEDP Developing Leaders
"A decade on from The Opposable Mind, Martin sets out a practical workbook on the subject… If you take one thing away it is that to make great choices you need must be prepared to take problems apart before building fully creative solutions." -- Economia
A 2017 Best Business Book -- The Globe & Mail
Advance Praise for Creating Great Choices:
Malcolm Gladwell, bestselling author, The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers; staff writer, The New Yorker--
"Creating Great Choices is the rarest of business books that teaches decision makers how to think, not what to think. I found it superb and wholly original."
Adam Grant, New York Times–bestselling author, Give and Take and Originals; coauthor, Option B--
"This book contains multitudes. Two talented strategists offer vivid stories to unlock your creativity, strong evidence to challenge your assumptions, and practical exercises to sharpen your thinking. I’ll be recommending it to leaders, students, and anyone else who wants to get better at problem solving."
David Taylor, Chairman and CEO, Procter & Gamble--
"Integrative thinking is powerful. It provides a concrete way to leverage diverse voices and to collaboratively create better choices. I have worked hard to become a practitioner of this approach of finding the better third way, because I truly believe it leads to more effective and more creative choices. Creating Great Choices provides an essential resource for thinking differently that can help leaders resolve some of their toughest problems."
Arianna Huffington, author, Thrive; CEO, Thrive Global; and founder, Huffington Post--
"Everybody wants to succeed in their jobs and in their relationships and make the world a better place if they can. Creating Great Choices is a book that can actually help you make that happen, offering concrete, practical advice and tools to help you overcome challenges and manage your relationships. It’s an essential read that won't just change how you think, it will also change how you act."
Tim Brown, CEO, IDEO; author, Change by Design--
"Integrative thinking is a critical skill for business and life. The Opposable Mind introduced the idea. With practical and inspirational approaches, Creating Great Choices sets you on the path to mastery."
Daniel H. Pink, author, Drive and To Sell Is Human--
"Integrative thinking is a powerful idea that offers new answers to our toughest problems. In this compelling work, Riel and Martin show us how to use this fresh mental model to make great choices rather than settle for weak compromises. Bursting with practical tips, engaging exercises, and keen insights, this book belongs within arm's reach of every leader trying to navigate the future."
Lowell C. McAdam, Chairman and CEO, Verizon Communications--
"In an age where society is tending more and more to lock in on one line of thinking, Riel and Martin give us the tools to break away from our prejudices and eliminate our blind spots, giving us the chance to arrive at a different and better conclusion. A critical tool in both business and life."
About the Author
Jennifer Riel is an adjunct professor at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and a strategic adviser to senior leaders at a number of Fortune 500 companies. She is coauthor, with Roger Martin and A.G. Lafley, of the Playing to Win Strategy Toolkit (Harvard Business Review Press).
Roger Martin is an author, business school professor, and strategy adviser to CEOs. He is Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the Rotman School of Management, where he served as Dean from 1998 to 2013. He is a frequent contributor to Harvard Business Review and other leading publications and has published nine books, including Playing to Win and The Opposable Mind.
- ASIN : 1633692965
- Publisher : Harvard Business Review Press; Illustrated edition (Sept. 19 2017)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9781633692961
- ISBN-13 : 978-1633692961
- Item weight : 476 g
- Dimensions : 16.51 x 2.54 x 24.13 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: #67,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the authors
Top reviews from Canada
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Note: Although the title of this book refers to “leaders,” I presume to suggest that “decision-makers” is more appropriate because the abundance of information, insights, and counsel provided by Jennifer Riel and Roger Martin can be of substantial value to almost anyone who must make an especially difficult decision, whatever the nature and extent of the potential impact may be.
* * *
In their book Judgment Calls, Thomas Davenport and Brook Manville explain how and why decisions made by a Great Organization tend to be much better than those made by a Great Leader. Why? While conducting rigorous and extensive research over a period of many years, they discovered - as Laurence Prusak notes in the Foreword -- "that no one was looking into the workings of what we term [begin italics] organizational judgment [end italics] - the collective capacity to make good calls and wise moves when the need for them exceeds the scope of any single leader's direct control."
Presumably they agree with Riel and Martin who assert that decision-maker must understand how they see the world and also see themselves in it in order to make great decisions. Great decisions require having great options to consider. A specific mindset and a specific methodology are involved when engaged in that process as is a mastery of specific skills.
In the Preface, Riel and Martin call their reader’s attention to “that most useful of tools, the opposable thumb. Shared by humans and most primates, the opposable thumb is what we use to create tension against our fingers to grasp and manipulate objects. Similarly, the opposable (the eponymous title of one of Martin’s previously published books) is one that can create tension between ideas, using that tension to develop new answers to challenging problems.” This practice is what Martin characterizes as “integrative thinking.”
I think there are significant correlations between the medieval process of alchemy -- using a crucible of thermal pressure to convert raw materials into precious metals -- and the modern process of converting raw but promising ideas into great options that become – during and within a methodology of rigorous scrutiny and contention -- the best possible decision [begin italics] in the given context [end italics].
These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Riel and Martin’s coverage:
o Making Choices or Creating Choices (Pages 10-15)
o Our Models Are Easily Manipulated (23-26)
o Making Choices in Organizations (34-40)
o Metacognition: Thinking About Our Own Thinking (43-48)
o Empathy: Appreciating the Thoughts and Feelings of Others (48-52)
o Sequence of the Integrative Thinking Process (63-74)
o Three Reasons Why the Focus Should Be on the Positive Effects of a Model (95-96)
o “Steps of Examining the Models (119-124)
o Three Pathways to Resolve Tension (142-143 and 143-162)
o The “Hidden Gem” Pathway (143-161)
o Three Principles of the Creative Process (166-168)
o Prototyping (173-197)
o Storytelling: Possibility to Narrative (178-180)
o A Different Mindset (190-191)
o Exploring Stance (205-211)
I commend Riel and Martin on their brilliant use of several reader-friendly devices. They include dozens of “Figures” (e.g. 9-1-4, “Odes of Learning”), “Try This” interactions with key material, checklists of key points and sequence steps, mini-commentaries, and 14 “Templates.” These devices and exercises will facilitate, indeed expedite reviews of key material later. I highly recommend highlighting key passages; also, having a lined-page notebook near at hand in which to record notes, questions, and page references.
Obviously, some great decisions are made by an individual; most are made in collaboration by members of a group. The key point is that the best decisions are based on the best options under thorough consideration.
I wholly agree with Jennifer Riel and Roger Martin: “Integrative thinking “is not a silver bullet. It is not the single thinking tool for all circumstances. But when you find that your conventional thinking tools are not helping you to truly solve a problem, integrative thinking can be a tool that shifts the conversation, defuses the interpersonal conflicts, and helps you move forward.”
Moreover, the process “may not provide brilliant answers every time, but will always help make your thinking clearer, boost your curiosity about other peoples models [e.g. organizational or career competitors’], and give you room to create. And that, after all, is the goal: not to choose between [or among] mediocre options, but to create great choices.”
Obviously, decisions that produce a solution should address the right problem and decisions that produce an answer should address the right question. Here is great advice from Peter Drucker that I urge all decision-makers (including leaders) to keep in mind: “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all."
Top reviews from other countries
I had given this book a 4 stars but after re-reading it slowly, I changed my mind and gave it 5 stars. It is an excellent book. Though I have some criticism of the book, but overall the book will make you think; hence, I changed it to 5 stars.
To succeed both sides have to become integrative thinkers and that is very difficult. The book does not present any failed scenarios where it was not possible to come up with a solution. To be fair, the authors do mention that this is not going to work all the time. I think getting this type of thinking to work is an exception rather than a rule. I have tried this and you are more likely to fail than succeed and it can be very frustrating.
The book needed to cover politics in more detail since that is where it is hard to come up with integrative thinking based solution, especially today with partisanship that exists. We will see if integrative thinking will prevail with the North Korean crisis. What I think makes this approach successful is where there is no "religion." As long as both sides are at one end of the 40-yard line then I think this approach works, but not if both sides are at their respective goal line. Then this approach is futile to try. The only solution then is war.
People may not want to engage in this kind of thinking since it makes them look weak even though it would lead to a better long-term outcome. Not sure how you overcome that.
But you should get this book so you can think better but don't expect miracles to happen because you are a better thinker. The people you are working with may not be thinking at all and you are going to be struck in the mud unless you want to teach them to become integrative thinkers or get them this book and hope they read it and understand it.