Integrative thinking a model takes shape

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Integrative thinking a model takes shape

  1. 1. I T GRA I E N E TV TI I : H NK NG A Mode a e Sha lT k s pe Ongoing efforts to engage the Rotman community in the process of building a model for integrative thinking and learning have been buoyed by the first year of the Rotman Integrative Thinking Seminar Series, which has featured some of today’s leading integrative thinkers.Dean Roger Martin says these highly successful businesspeople employ a distinctive pattern of thinking,which leads him to believe that a model can be developed to teach students to think in unique and powerful ways. M “The truth is, ost thoughtful observers of the world of business would agree with Peter theory and pedagogy for integrative thinking with the launch of our Rotman Integrative Think- Drucker that there are really no mar- ing Seminar Series in October 2001. there’s no such keting decisions or tax decisions — or In its initial year, the Series featured four finance decisions, for that matter — but only addresses by academics working on integrative thing as a ‘tax business decisions: decisions that sprawl relent- lessly across functional boundaries as if bound- thinking — myself, Rotman Professor of Strate- gic Management and Director of the CCMF aries didn’t exist. Centre for Integrative Thinking Mihnea decision’ or a Likewise, thoughtful observers of business Moldoveanu, Management Consultant and education could, with a cursory look at the cur- Dean’s Advisory Board Director Dr. Hilary ‘marketing ricula of North America’s nearly 800 business schools, ascertain that an overwhelming propor- Austen, and Professor Peter Drucker of Claremont Graduate University.These addresses tion of courses deal with marketing decisions, set out the model to be tested and provided the decision’ – there human resources decisions, finance decisions, context for the integrative thinking challenge. etc., and not with integrative business decisions. The remaining six sessions in the Series fea- ILLUSTRATION: JOANNA SZACHOWSKA/THREE IN A BOX The challenge facing business schools today is to tured businesspeople who have achieved are only business make their curricula significantly more integra- unqualified success in their field of endeavour. tive so that graduates can become better leaders This group was selected because we believe decisions.” and make better business decisions. their success is rooted in the kind of thinking To make education more integrative, busi- we are working to understand. ness schools face the significant challenge of Our premise is that extremely successful — Dr. Peter F. Drucker, speaking creating an entirely new theory to underpin the people, as exemplified by these six (see bottom teaching of what we at the Rotman School call of page 8), approach their tasks with a distinctly at the Rotman Integrative Thinking Integrative Thinking.This past year, the School more integrated decision-making process than Seminar Series on June 12, 2002 took a first step down the path of creating a their less successful peers.This pattern of thinking continued on page 86 { F A L L 2002 }
  2. 2. continued from page 6 THE INITIAL MODELenables them to make better choices and therebycontributes to their success.We further believe Limited consideration Non-Integrativethat while this thinking pattern is different from of features Thinkingless-successful businesspeople, it is largely con- SALIENCEsistent across extremely successful people.And Simplified considerationbecause we believe it is a consistent pattern, we More features of causality of the problembelieve that it can be observed and generalized considered salient CAUSALITY— and eventually taught to business students. To begin exploring the veracity of our ideas, Sequential/independent Multi-directional and non- consideration of piece-partswe have specified an initial model for how high- linear causality considered SEQUENCINGly-successful people think, and then looked for Readyevidence of this model in the thinking process- acceptance Whole visualized while of unattractivees of the successful businesspeople who spoke Integrative working on individual parts RESOLUTION trade-offsin the Rotman Integrative Thinking Seminar Series. Thinking Search for creativeT e I i i l Mode h nta l resolution of tensionsWe believe that individuals go through fourmajor steps — whether they realize it or not— as they make a choice: SEQUENCING: The decision-maker creates government officials before deciding to close aSALIENCE:The decision-maker selects certain some mechanism for working from inception plant in a one-plant town, and thereby not befeatures to be salient to the decision — and of the problem through to choice. They may surprised by an adverse reaction after a decisiontherefore to be included in the deliberation — break the problem into steps, considering some to close.and others to not be salient, and excluded. For features first and others later, or consider the The integrative thinker considers multi-example, an executive may consider the likely problem as a whole. directional and non-linear causal relationshipsresponse of government officials as salient to his RESOLUTION:The decision-maker will pro- instead of only simple, uni-directional relation-closing the most important plant in a town, or duce a choice of some sort as the end product ships. So rather than simply thinking,“that com-he may not.The consideration of that particular of the series of steps above. petitor’s price cutting is hurting our bottomfeature (or not) could well have a major impact We suggest that highly-successful business- line,” the integrative thinker would conclude,on the outcome of the decision. people — and successful people of all types, for “our new product introduction really upset thatCAUSALITY:The decision-maker will consid- that matter — proceed through the four steps competitor and now it is cutting prices iner the causal relationships between the features of choice-making in a distinctive, predictable response, which is hurting our bottom line.”he or she has determined are salient. For exam- fashion, as illustrated in the chart, above. The integrative thinker works to considerple, if they consider government reaction to be The integrative thinker considers more fea- the whole problem while working on its indi-salient, they may see that the greater the num- tures of the problem to be salient than the non- vidual parts, rather than breaking down theber of full-time jobs lost, the greater the nega- integrative thinker. For example, the integrative problem into independent pieces and workingtivity of the government reaction. thinker may indeed consider the reaction of on them seperately. An integrative thinkerR CHA C R E I RD UR I P E S HAND I IR L NG M C E LE - H N I HA L E C IOver a 25-year period, guided Took the reigns of a small and relatively incon- Took over a tiny mutual funda failing grocery chain, sequential film festival – not even the acknowl- company,AIC, and grew it into aLoblaws, from relative obscu- edged leader in Canada at the time – and $15-billion empire with anrity and a market capitalization improbably led it to international prominence, unparalleled track record of successof $40 million to Canada’s dominant grocery passing numerous entrenched competi- and in the process became a billionaire onretailer with a reputation as one of the world’s tors (e.g. Berlin, New York, Los the basis of his ownership stake in AIC.finest retail operations and a market capitaliza- Angeles,Venice) to make the Toron-tion of $14 billion – a 22 per cent compound to International Film Festival theannual growth rate. second-ranked film festival in the world next to Cannes. 8 { F A L L 2002 }
  3. 3. wants to avoid the trap of designing a product and having a non-juried festival, which would Michael Lee-Chin described the turningbefore considering the costs of manufacturing feel more open and democratic, but would lack point in the fate of his company as the time heit. Rather, he or she would consider manufac- the media buzz associated with a clear ‘winner’. had to choose between facing a mob of antago-turability while working on the design. His refusal to choose, and his continued pon- nistic media (up in arms at his company’s stub- Finally, the integrative thinker will always dering of the question, resulted in the now born refusal to jump on the dot-comsearch for creative resolution of tensions, rather world-famous Toronto International Film Festi- investment bandwagon) that could destroy histhan accept unpleasant trade-offs. The behav- val Audience Award, which creates fabulous company’s reputation, or turn and run, dimin-iours associated with such a search — delays, media buzz and at the same time, could not be ishing his company’s chances for substantial suc-sending teams back to examine things more more open and democratic. cess.With everything on the line, he decided ondeeply, generating new options at the eleventh Richard Currie, “stubborn” by his own the “punch-the-ringleader-in-the-nose” strate-hour — are often considered by bystanders to assessment, refused to choose between low gy, which deterred the mob and gave his firmbe unrealistic and indecisive — but the results consumer prices and high margins for Loblaws. the breathing room it needed to soldier on in itsare choices that only an integrative thinker Instead, he created President’s Choice, and chosen, if unpopular, direction.could have produced. with its Club-Pack product line came low SOPHISTICATED CAUSAL REASONING prices and high margins — what he calls “heav- The second most striking feature of these sixF nd n s f om t e i ig r h en for a retailer.” individuals was the highly-sophisticated causalS x I i i l Spe k r i nta aes Moses Znaimer, who confesses, “I’m not reasoning that lay beneath their decision mak-Much of the anecdotal data gleaned from the an either/or type of guy,” refused to choose ing. The speakers were simply asked to talkinitial six speakers in the Rotman Integrative between being a global player and offering the about their business and its success. Despite theThinking Seminar Series supports our initial intimacy of a local player, so he created the “glo- vagueness of the request — and, in severalmodel. Following are some of the most striking calization” option for Citytv.The product is an cases, in the absence of a single scrap of paper infeatures we noted in the integrative thinkers intensely-local television service, but the for- front of them at the podium — we receivedstudied to date. mat has been successfully exported to the four sophisticated reasoning about the complicatedCREATIVE RESOLUTION corners of the globe. causal links among the salient features thatBy far the most striking finding was the Isadore Sharpe refused to choose between drove their businesses.absolute refusal on the part of these individuals having the amenities of a big hotel and the inti- Michael Lee-Chin took us through ato accept unpleasant trade-offs, and their search macy of a small motel. Instead he engineered a remarkable string of logic that originated with afor creative resolutions.This was a central fea- brand of service that provides the best of both three-pronged approach to finding a successture in the choices made by all six speakers – worlds — a smaller, intimate format with all model (identify a role model; ask the roleand they wore their emotions on their sleeves — or more — of the amenities of a big hotel. model what to do; do what they say), to identi-with respect to this issue. George Stalk refused to accept that to fying three key needs of all customers (preserve Piers Handling couldn’t make himself achieve greater speed-to-market, firms had to capital; grow capital; and minimize taxes) to achoose between having a juried festival — sacrifice variety. Instead, he discovered how a three-pronged philosophy (buy; hold; and pros-which would generate great media buzz over firm could configure its operations to generate per), to the difference between businessmenthe eventual jury prize winner, but would more speed-to-market with greater levels of and investors, to the proper role of diversifica-create an elitist atmosphere for the festival — variety by “competing on time.” tion, to the nature of competitive advantage.ISADORE SHARPE GEORGE S ALK T MOSES ZNAIMERBuilt the world’s finest chain of luxury In the extremely competitive and fick- The creator of wildly-successful Citytv is con-hotels and resorts from scratch against le profession of strategy consulting, he sidered one of the most brilliant innovators isnumerous global, well-financed and is consistently ranked in the Top 25 con- the world of television broadcasting.entrenched competitors. Now the most sultants in the world by the industry bible, A leading exporter of television concepts powerful brand in the luxury hotel Consulting Magazine. A leader with Boston worldwide, he continues to keep the market, Four Seasons continues to Consulting Group, he is considered by pipeline of international opportunities widen its global leadership position many to be the foremost contributor full with continuous innovation in his against all competition. to the intellectual development of the own market. field of strategy consulting. { R O T M A N M A N A G E M E N T } 9
  4. 4. continued from page 9His was truly a tour de force of end-to-end was broadened to tors and filmmakers —causal reasoning. include all the things but the emotional state Richard Currie provided his analysis that could be delivered of the audience wasof renting versus owning; percentage mark-up through the store — also salient to Handlingversus “pennies profit”; spreading fixed costs including financial ser- as he made his choices,versus reducing variable costs; and every pony vices, photo-finishing, including the centraldoing one trick versus the proliferation of for- pharmaceuticals amenities, choice of creating themats championed by Loblaws. Each piece of dry cleaning and more. But Each of our Audience Award.causal reasoning linked to the next, creating the even further, his picturenest of choices that made Loblaws so successful. included all the stores in WHERE DO WE George Stalk demonstrated with formida- the city as a whole, and featured integrative GO FROM HERE?ble causal reasoning that counter to every pre- what configuration of store The first year of the Rot-conception, as you reduce time-to-market, you formats, sizes and locations thinkers came up with man Integrative Thinkingcan actually increase product variety, quality, optimized a given city Seminar Series leads us toprices and market share, while reducing risk. for Loblaws. creative resolutions conclude that highly suc-CONSIDERATION OF THE WHOLE BROADENING cessful businesspeopleNot surprisingly — given the complexity of SALIENT FEATURES linked inexorably to their employ a distinctive pat-their causal reasoning — the six speakers For each of our featured tern of thinking, and thatdemonstrated an expansive ability to consider integrative thinkers, the there is a consistency tothe whole, and to avoid breaking up the prob- ability to come up with a consideration of features their thinking approach.lem at hand into disconnected pieces to be han- creative resolution was It also leads us to believedled seperately. It did not seem to matter to linked inexorably to their not considered by that our initial model ofthem that the task of ‘keeping all the balls in the consideration of features integrative thinking canair simultaneously’ was intimidating in its not considered by their peers their competitors. be used as a solid startingdegree of difficulty — that was simply the way and competitors. Inclusion point to describe the wayit needed to be done. of these added features these successful business- For Isadore Sharpe, every piece of the opened up possibilities for people think.puzzle had to fit with the other pieces to create them that would not have been relevant or While initial results are encouraging, ourthe right feel of a Four Seasons Hotel. From obvious had they restricted their thinking to a work is only beginning. As we push onward inlocation, to building, to the selection and smaller set of features. testing and refining our model, we will be ask-training of employees, to employee rotation, to For Moses Znaimer, “the space between ing some tough questions: Is our model missingadherence to the company’s ‘Golden Rule’ the programs” became salient as he sought to important features? Are there better ways of(“Treat others as you would want to be treated define Citytv’s feel and create a personal bond describing the four steps in the initial model?yourself ”). Nothing was considered in isola- with his audience — not through the program- Are there different patterns for different suc-tion of the rest of the picture. Everything that ming offered, which his competitors focused cessful businesspeople? Does the model applyFour Seasons does fits into its overall vision on — but rather through what the viewer sees equally to highly successful people in non-busi-and strategy. and hears between the programs. His insertion ness fields? And how can pieces of the model be For Piers Handling, one of the prerequi- of snippets of action from around the streets of tested in academically-rigorous ways?sites to success was getting rid of the depart- Toronto and voiceovers describing upcoming Going forward, we plan to broaden themental silos within the Film Festival that programs helped make a reality of the tag line, sample of successful people studied by includ-blocked its ability to achieve a distinctive and “Citytv: Everywhere!” ing highly successful non-businesspeoplecompelling feel. With silos out of the way, he For Michael Lee-Chin, the feeling of cri- in the Rotman Integrative Thinking Seminarcould work to create an overall feel for the Fes- sis and despair was salient, for “in the presence Series, which resumes in September. In addi-tival that was inclusive and populist, but at the of crisis and despair lie great opportunities,” tion, we plan to engage in further investiga-same time, commercially attractive and inter- which he attempted to seize while others might tion with successful entrepreneurs across aesting. Thanks to the resultant media buzz, it have felt helpless. While competitors were number of fields.became more commercially attractive for the analysing financials, he was, in addition, While we are still early on the path towardindustry and more exciting for the stars, and analysing mood. ‘cracking the code’ of integrative thinking, wethe upward spiral took hold. For Piers Handling, the feeling of inclu- feel reassured by our progress to date, and are For Richard Currie the playing field siveness was salient to the design of a successful hopeful that we will one day be able to teachwas not restricted to groceries — though that film festival. Sure, content was important — students to think in a way that increases theirwas ostensibly his business. Rather, the picture the schedule, the attendance of stars, distribu- chances for groundbreaking success. RM { R O T M A N M A N A G E M E N T } 11

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