Posts tagged ‘opposable mind’

Integrative Thinking

As I wrote before, I am currently reading Roger Martin’s The Opposable Mind. Martin believes that for some business leaders, a certain method of thinking has contibuted to their success. Integrative thinking, according to Martin is the ability to keep multiple options, which may even be contradictory, in play as viable options when facing any business decision.mm

For example, Red Hat is a software company offering Linux, a FREE computer operating system. When open source software like Linux was first introduced and becoming popular, distributors made money by selling disks for a nominal fee (perhaps around $15). This is of course much more attractive than the hunderds of dollars competitors like Microsoft were charging for a proprietary system. Bob Young, co-founder of Red Hat rejected the tradtional model used by Micrsoft et. al. He much preferred the collaboration and innovation that the open source community could provide in a very nimble way. He also knew that selling CD’s for $15 was not going to be a profitable business model.

Hindsight is always 20/20, so it may not appear to be such a breakthough using the lens of today, but These two models were accepted as reality in the industry. There was an impasse. But Martin identifies Young as an integrative thinker, to revoltionized the open source software community by ofering the software for FREE (as an internet download) and combining that with services (training, installation, consulting, etc). The prodcut price enabled Red Hat to undercut practically the entire market, giving them substantial penetration. The high-margin services gave them an immediate and lucrative path to profit.

Young excercised integrative thought in finding this solution. From the incongruity of 2 traditional models, he saw the oppotunity for a innovative third model.

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January 14, 2009 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

The Opposable Mind

I’ve started reading The Opposable Mind (Harvard Business School Press) by Roger Martin.  It is just the latest in a slew of books I’ve been reading recently.  Look for a new series of posts here about the books I am reading.

The Opposable Mind takes a different angle than many other popular business books today.  And this might be a great reason to check it out even if you aren’t interested in “business literature.”  Martin takes the approach that the success of some business leaders can be traced to their thinking process as much as the things they did  He suggests an “opposable mind” is one that as F. Scott Fitzgerald observed, “…[has the] ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

Martin goes on to describe his interviews with several noted and less conspicuous business leaders.  He believes there is a common theme found in their success that can be traced back to a willingness and ability to consider multiple solutions has having merit, and ultimately plotting  a hybrid course.

It is important to add that Martin believes a) this thinking is NOT a necessary condition for success in business, but simply a common thread in the leaders he profiles, and b) the process can be learned.

I’ll be sharing some additional thoughts of my own as I read this book.

January 3, 2009 at 11:53 am 1 comment


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