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The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking Hardcover – 1 Jan 2008


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business School Press; 1 edition (1 Jan. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1422118924
  • ISBN-13: 978-1422118924
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.8 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 485,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

Martin makes a compelling argument for a paradoxical approach to problem-solving
-- BusinessWeek, November 26, 2007

What makes great CEOs stand out from their peers? This is the first book to really answer that question.
-- Malcolm Gladwell writing in The Week, December 6, 2008

Review

What makes great CEOs stand out from their peers? This is the first book to really answer that question.

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Stan Felstead - Interchange Resources on 13 Oct. 2008
Format: Hardcover
The book tackles the subject of integrative thinking. The basic premise is that skilled leaders have the ability to hold two opposing ideas in their minds at once, and then reach a synthesis of both, that improves on each.

On the front cover it is described as "Brilliant and utterly convincing" by Malcolm Gladwell. This was not my experience as a reader. The book could go a lot further in motivating the reader, and you could easily fail to complete the whole book. The tendency to over use a small number of case studies to prove a point is not especially convincing eg the example of procter and gamble.

One aspect that is a real insight is the work on mapping the mind - chapter five. The material on - your personal knowledge system for example, (see figure 5.1 p 103) merits a look. However much of the book could be easily be summarised in an 8-10 page article.

Another alternative is the work of Honey and Mumford, on learning styles. This has been around for a while and is first class in its breadth and depth. I have used their inventory for team building, management development etc. This I feel provides more insight into the thinking processes of managers than this book.

Stan Felstead - Interchange Resources UK.
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By Caufrier Frederic on 12 April 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
`The Opposable Mind' discusses integrative thinking as added value for business leaders. In that regard it does a pretty good job.

Basically 3 parts are to be found back: The first part is a comparison between conventional thinking and integrative thinking. The second part gives a deeper introduction into a framework covering integrative thinking and the last part provides a knowledge system so you can become a better integrative thinker.

To cover the positive, negative and interesting points of this book:

- Positive points: The book does give a framework and template to become a better integrative thinker and it leaves you with the taste to explore this thinking even deeper (especially if you think already integrative). It provides a mental attitude setting (stance) and tools so you can start exploring this thinking further.

- Negative points: This book has at the start an irritating aspect of "us-versus-them" comparison claiming that integrative thinking is so much more important (I guess it is this part that resulted in lower scores here by other reviewers). Conventional thinking (as well as integrative thinking) has both their benefits and by bashing it you don't make a cause for your own model (though the book later recovers very nicely to illustrate the power of integrative thinking). Integrative thinking is actually just `big picture thinking' (or holistic thinking, ..) so I am not convinced of having it re-labeled. Furthermore some of the content stays a bit too much on the academic level. I guess it is perfect as an introduction manual for the integrative thinking course at Rotman School of Management.

- Interesting point: This book is a support for all the managers and leaders who love `big picture thinking' but were often told to stop thinking like that.

I am looking forward to read once an extended version on this topic. Interesting!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Honestly, I was disappointed. It is one of the books that seems to be in the "hype circle" of books that quote each other recently and are more wordy than substantial. There are good ideas there, but the author is certainly more focussed on "selling" those ideas than on critical evaluation of them. And that goes kind of against the very title of the book. So I found it shallow - despite the fact that the idea presented is indeed a very important one. It is a read for a waiting room rather than serious book about how our mind works or indeed how we can improve our thinking.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 4 Dec. 2007
Format: Hardcover
"Why didn't I think of that?" is a common reaction to other people's creative breakthroughs. In hindsight, the idea looks so simple, so elegant, so right, that you can't believe you missed it. But for some reason you did. Why? Can this sort of creativity be taught? Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, answers both questions in this beautiful systematization of creative problem solving. The good news is, it can be taught and Martin is a wonderful teacher. We think his ideas are so clear and logical, so obviously right, that you'll wonder why you didn't think of them.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kai Harrekilde-Petersen on 29 Mar. 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book was a disappointing read for two reasons: first, I found it pretty boring to read, with dry descriptions of the cases. Secondly, and most importantly, the fundamental premise of having an integrative or "opposable" mind is not new: it's been called 'strategy' for several decades.
Anyone who claims to work on strategy must be able to come up with there kinds of insights, if they are to make a viable plan for their company. There are plenty of better books on strategy out there that I would recommend instead, e.g. Blue Ocean Strategy by Kim and Mauborgne.
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