The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking

Nuggets on how leaders win and the power of integrative thinking 

  • In trying to discern the common theme running the success records of exemplary leaders, one common theme has emerged with striking clarity. These leaders all have the predisposition and the capacity to hold two diametrically opposing ideas in their heads. And then without panicking or simply settling for one alternative or the other, they are able to produce a synthesis that is superior to either opposing idea. This is called integrative thinking 
  • The skill with which these thinkers can hold two opposing ideas in fruitful tension is similar to the concept of the opposable thumb 
  • Human beings are distinguished from nearly every other creature by a physical feature known as the opposable thumb. The tension we create by opposing the thumb and the fingers enables us to do marvellous things that no other creature can do-write, thread a needle, carve a diamond, paint a picture, play golf  and so much more. All these actions will be impossible without the crucial tension between the thumb and fingers. (Positive vs negative tension )
  • Similarly we were born with an opposable mind that we can use to hold two conflicting ideas in constructive tension not destructive. We can use the tension to think our way through to a new and superior idea. 
  • Integrative thinking shows us a way past the binary limits of either-or. It shows us there’s a way to integrate the advantages of one solution without cancelling our the advantages of an alternative solution 
  • Do not let your mind operate at factory setting mode. One factory preset of the human mind is the tendency to assume that our models of reality are identical to reality itself. That conflation shuts down shuts down the latent power of our opposable minds before it can be engaged     The Integrative thinker welcomes the challenge of shaping the world for the better. 
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