Creating Great Choices: A Leader’s Guide to Integrative Thinking by Roger Martin and Jennifer Riel
We know day-to-day tasks and responsibilities keep you busy, so we’ve created a quick reference guide of books our faculty and thought leaders are reading and why they find them interesting. In this edition of What We’re Reading, Dr. Luciano Castro, Clinical Associate Professor, shares the latest book he’s been into: Creating Great Choices: A Leader’s Guide to Integrative Thinking by Roger Martin and Jennifer Riel.
When we make decisions, most people identify the problem, define their objectives and compare alternatives by evaluating pros and cons. Once we understand each alternative, it’s common to choose the option with the least cons.
Creating Great Choices challenges this traditional decision-making process by stating that trade-offs are not always possible to assess, or maybe none of our options will give us the result we desire. In these situations, we have the ability to create our own alternatives using opposing ideas as the basis for innovation. This new approach requires metacognition (the ability to know yourself and your mental models), empathy (a deep understanding of others’ point of view and mental models) and creativity to develop new choices using tools such as design thinking and ideation. The book’s main takeaway? Don’t fall into the trap of a fixed and limited mindset that shortens possibilities and opportunities.
The 1980s farm financial crisis impacts everyone involved in U.S. agriculture today in one way or another. We either lived through it personally, or we’ve grown up in its long-standing shadow. The seven-episode Escaping 1980 podcast unpacks this crisis to better prepare and position ourselves, both personally and professionally, to be more resilient in the future.
Recently, I read a New York Times commentary by David Leonhardt entitled Politics as a Lifesaver. This commentary made a reference that led me to Steven Johnson’s How Humanity Gave Itself an Extra Life article in the New York Times Magazine. Johnson’s article is a fascinating lesson on how scientists develop technical expertise, but it is the ability to persuade the community through political and social mechanisms that really influences and changes society, which is extremely relevant to many of today’s critical issues.
Strategy is about making choices, often while facing a great deal of uncertainty. As decision makers, we tend to limit our choices when facing uncertainty as fear of the unknown can be paralyzing. However, limiting choices also limits chances of being successful. When teaching decision making, I try to help industry professionals realize that the best alternative they can identify is one that they have identified. Can you see the juxtaposition of our desire to limit our choices under uncertainty, but at the same time, realizing we have to think of good solutions, which often requires identifying more instead of less?