Sunday, August 23, 2015

Book Review: The Opposable Mind

Opposable Mind: Winning Through Integrative ThinkingOpposable Mind: Winning Through Integrative Thinking by Roger Martin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I named my consulting business "Creative Option C" which is what I call the alternative people must create whenever they feel themselves to be deadlocked between bad choice A and bad choice B.  For example, in Washington DC - one of the most dysfunctionally polarized places in the world - House Republicans insist that lowering taxes and cutting entitlement spending is the only way to reduce the deficit and grow the economy.  President Obama and Senate Democrats say that ending tax cuts for the wealthiest among us and investing more in the middle class in the short term is the path to the same end.  Both have staked out their positions and dug in for the battle.  But both sides want to achieve the same goal.  We need them to co-create an option that works for everybody.

I believe that option always exists.  I call it Option C.

Hegel called it Synthesis.

Covey called it the Third Alternative.

Fisher and Ury called the process for getting there "principled negotiation."

None of these methods involve "compromise" or "hard trade-offs." They involve commitment to the relationships, commitment to the shared desired outcomes, and a creative process.

From the University of Toronto comes a renowned business professor who has studied the decision making styles of great leaders and concluded that the best ones avoid making trade-offs.  They don't panic when presented with apparently opposing viewpoints: they investigate, look for common ground, and invent something new. There is a method to this kind of process, a method that can be taught and learned. Dr. Martin brilliantly weaves storytelling with analysis to provide us all with a great how-to.  Thanks, professor.  Somebody should send a couple dozen cases of this book to the US Capital!

My two-page summary is available for free download here.

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