051— Creating Great Choices

“Knowledge upon which you cannot take action is barely worth having at all.”

Full disclosure: here at Actionable, we are huge fans of Roger Martin’s work. Not only has he been named the #1 management thinker by Thinkers50, but his work has helped to frame many of our internal project and strategy discussions. We are delighted to host Roger for a conversation about his latest book, Creating Great Choices: A Leader’s Guide to Integrative Thinking. Roger shared his thoughts on the origins and evolution of his work, the power of narrative for making complex ideas more understandable, and his four step process for moving beyond “either/or” decision making processes, toward creating greater choices through integrative thinking.

In this conversation, we discussed:

  • Why leaders are typically taught to choose the “least worst” choice—and why this makes it difficult to become a great leader.
  • Why our preconceived biases lead us to make bad decisions.
  • Approaching choices with a growth mindset—if you accept that things can always improve, you can remove the pressure to get everything perfect the first time, and start to seek out ways to create better and better models.
  • The four steps to creating great choices: Articulating opposing models, examining the models, generating new possibilities, and assessing prototypes.   
  • Roger also offered his top tips for each stage of the process:
    • Articulating the models: it’s best to put models to the greatest possible extreme. Examine each model as if it is all or nothing in order to get a clearer picture of potential benefits and pitfalls.
    • Examining the models: think about each model as positively as possible—even if you don’t adopt it, you can bring the best pieces of a model with you into whatever decision you make.
    • Generating possibilities: there are 3 integrative moves that thinkers typically make. Try each to generate new ideas. They are: the hidden gem, double down, and decomposition.
    • Assessing prototypes: think of your new ideas as prototypes, not complete models. Work with a minimum viable product and improve from there. All new ideas can be both improved and tested.
  • And lastly, make the process fun! Ty to remember that the purpose is serious, but the process is more enjoyable and effective if it is a bit playful.

Actionable Quote
“We need a way of thinking through and creating choices that mitigate, rather than amplify, the effects of our deeply held mental models and biases.”

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