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14 July 2015

RM:OM:Chapter2: No Stomach for the second best.

This post is chapter 2 of the book 'The Opposable Mind' written by Roger Martin. You can read the high level review of the book in  THIS POST. Please read it before you read this post.

Read Chapter 1 of the book.

Chapter 2 is titled 'No stomach for the second best. How integration thinkers move beyond trade offs'.

While making a decision human being considers four important aspects.

One, what are the factors that are relevant to my decision? This aspect is called Salience
Two, what are the interrelationships between these factors / features? How do the factors influence each other. This aspect is called Causality
Three, how do I structure my activities to achieve what I want? This is called Architecture
Four, was the outcome satisfactory? What is the outcome that I am going to get? This is the Resolution

When decisions get more complex, we tend to get confused and mixed up in any one of the above four steps. For example, we might miss some key features of a decision. Martin talks about a couple who have a bunch of beer drinking, raucous truck drivers for company. In their quest for a low priced vacation, they missed this important factor (vacation companions) which was relevant to their decision.

Martin call this attribute of decision making, ie having multiple relevant features as 'Salience' of the decision. Salience can be identified by the sentence 'I wish I had thought about it sooner'.

'Causality is the term used to show the interrelationships between salient features. We prepare a 'Causal Map' in our minds.

The next step is to identify the sequence of activities to be followed. Author calls this the 'Architecture' of the decision. We identify various activities to be performed and sequence them. Sometimes we break the activities into groups and assign different people with responsibilities for different groups. While doing so we might miss out on the integration aspect of the architecture.

Finally, based on the salient features, identified causality between them and the selected architecture you have a decision outcome or 'Resolution'.. Based on the different combination of any of the above, there are different resolutions.

Decision Making Process
The question is, what differentiates integrative thinkers from conventional thinkers?

One, wider salience: Integrative thinkers identify more salient features. They take a broader view of what is salient.
Two, complex causality: Integrative thinkers do not flinch from considering multi-directional and non-linear causal relationships.
Three, big picture architecture: Integrative thinkers d not break a problem into independent pieces and work on each piece separately. They keep the entire problem in mind while working on its undivided parts.
Four, search for a creative solution: Integrative thinkers search for creative resolution of tensions rather than accepting unpleasant trade offs. They are comfortable with the delays, generating option at the eleventh hour etc. They are prepared to wait in their quest for the best solution.

The diagram below summarizes the differences between conventional thinking and integrative thinking for each of the decision making elements.


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