Title: Creating Great Choices – A Leader’s Guide to Integrative Thinking
Authors: Jennifer Riel and Roger L Martin
Life is spent making “Choices”, or at least we believe so. At times we do not make choices and wait until only one option is left in front of us At times we make compromised choices. Rarely people are able to make the much needed “trade-offs” between options. While “making trade-offs” is what makes choosing options difficult, Riel and Martin suggest in this book that there is a third possible way – a method to mix the best of two opposing options and thereby create a third option.
Integrative thinking was introduced by Roger Martin in an earlier work. He suggested that integrative thinking was a useful solution when the trade-offs to be made was painful to make. But his earlier work had given an impression that integrative thinking was an innate skill possessed by a few. Building on Martin’s earlier work on integrative thinking, the authors break this myth by providing a four-stage approach to practising integrative thinking. While the various stages are filled with subjective actions, the overall approach gives a sense of order to an otherwise art-like activity. Part one of the book also provides the theoretical background to the four-stage model being developed in the book. Briefly the authors review design thinking and behavioural decision-making. They also provide some key works that interested individuals can look up if they wish to learn more about these two subjects. They build a case for why three missing components (metacognition; empathy; creativity), if built, can help overcome the inherent limitations in our decision-making. These also are the basis for the four stage approach.
I am a big fan of Martin’s writing. I have reviewed, used and recommended his book “Playing to Win” innumerable people. I think this book does to thinking, what “Playing to Win” did for strategy. The book details the four-stage approach to integrative thinking:
- articulating opposing models
- examining the models
- generating possibilities
- assessing prototypes.
The second part of the book details the four stages with clear instructions on the sub-stages involved, tools required and practices to be followed. The book provides numerous templates for practicing the specific sub-stages. There are also number of suggested exercises under the “Try this” feature.
The book has numerous stories of individuals and organisations who have practiced integrative thinking. This gives both credence and inspiration for anyone to try using this approach in their lives. In an increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, when making trade-offs becomes painful, integrative thinking can be a handy solution.