Integrative thinking is a form of reasoning which allows you to constructively face the tensions of opposing models. Instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, you generate a creative solution. Your solution contains elements of the individual models, but is superior to each.

ON Integrative Thinking

The Opposable Mind

Organizations need to incorporate the best of design thinking into their ways of working to unleash innovation and creativity. An organization will be able to counter-balance analytical thinking with intuitive thinking – to enable it to both exploit existing knowledge and create new knowledge. 

ON Design of Business

The Design Of Business

Critical to the success of every organization, strategy is not a long planning exercise or document. Strategy can be simple, fun and effective and is founded on a set of five interrelated and powerful choices that positions an organization to win. 

ON Strategy

Playing To win

While prevailing theory holds that stock-based compensation perfectly aligns corporate executives’ incentives with those of shareholders, it does the opposite. As a consequence, executives have done brilliantly while shareholders have become increasingly frustrated. Incentives and governance practice needs to be transformed to enable corporations to prosper in a way that better serves society.

ON Incentives & Governance

Fixing the Game

My work in Canada, and around the globe, focuses on determining high-impact ways for modern economies to build, enhance, and/or renovate key facets of the infrastructure underlying democratic capitalism, to produce prosperity that is both broadly experienced and sustainable.

ON Competitiveness & Prosperity

Canada: What it is, what it can be

For both social entrepreneurs and corporations, the key tenet of social innovation is finding ways to make the world a better place. My work focuses on building tools for social entrepreneurs to create more powerful models for creating value for society and developing models to guide corporations on a path of productive corporate citizenship.

ON Social Innovation

The Case for Definition

INTEGRATIVE THINKING

I coined the term Integrative Thinking to describe the form of reasoning I observed in my multiyear study of highly successful leaders.  I found a strikingly consistent pattern to their thinking approach when they faced unpleasant either/or choices. When faced with opposing options or models, most people simply choose, even if they don’t particularly love either model. 

In contrast, these Integrative Thinkers, as I came to call them, aren’t satisfied with simply making an unpleasant trade-off.  Instead, they master the ability to constructively face the tensions of opposing models, and instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, they generate a creative solution of the tensions in the form of a new model that contains elements of the individual models, but is superior to each.

In 2007, I published The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking, which describes the features of Integrative Thinking and provides a guide for those who want to cultivate their own Integrative Thinking capacity.

Many people assume that Integrative Thinking is a skill with which one must be born to demonstrate.  This is definitively not the case! My colleagues and I have been working with corporate executives, business school students and, more recently, elementary school students in our innovative I-Think program to teach them how to grow their Integrative Thinking capabilities using a set of tools that we have developed since the publication of The Opposable Mind.

It is clear from this teaching experience that anyone who is willing to work at Integrative Thinking can develop the thinking pattern exhibited by the highly successful leaders that I studied.

on integrative thinking

Articles

Harvard Business Review
How Successful Leaders think 
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Interviews

FT.com
Escaping the “either/or” trap  
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