Are you flexible and open minded when confronted by an issue or do you quickly determine a solution and charge headlong into implementing it?
In his book The Opposable Mind, Roger Martin introduced a concept called an “Integrative Thinker”. An Integrative Thinker is someone who can look at a problem that has two or more opposing solutions and work objectively with these to come up with a third unique solution. This third solution considers ideas from each viewpoint but provides a superior solution that none of the viewpoints could have provided on their own.
For example, healthcare boards in Canada are always complaining that they never have the funding they need to provide adequate services. They are trying to provide these services in the same manner as they have always done. They are viewing system funding and the actual health services as conflicts instead of related challenges. They are essentially crippling themselves by taking a single-minded approach to the issue instead of an Integrated Thinking approach. By adopting the Integrated Thinking approach, they would be able to envision a new and improved healthcare system that;
- operates within the funding constraints
- would retain the best features of the current health care system
- would integrate the best ideas from other health care systems
- would integrate ideas from systems unrelated to healthcare but experiencing similar service delivery challenges
As the speed of business increases and as the business world gets more complex, the ability to be open minded and think “outside the norm” is a huge business advantage. Gone are the days when business decisions were relatively simple, black and white choices. In today’s world with overwhelming amounts of data, speed of light communications and worldwide connectivity, a poor decision can damage or destroy an individual or organization overnight.
The next time you are faced with a tough issue, explore the solutions available from an Integrative Thinker perspective. Are there solutions that are opposing each other? Can you take the best aspects of each solution and combine them into a new and better solution?