I just finished an interesting book: The Opposable Mind by Roger Martin. Martin thoroughly interviewed many distinguished movers and shakers of the world, seeking parallels in their decision making strategies, particularly when it came to game-changing moves they made. He noticed a pattern: these revolutionary leaders don’t settle for trade-offs. Rather, they hold opposing models of the world in “constructive tension” in order to formulate creative solutions in response to challenges, not unlike the fingers and opposable thumb allow us to do in the physical world. Meticulously considering all salient variables and the relationships between them, integrative thinkers emerge with a new vision, one that borrows from both existing models while proving advantageous to either.
The idea is to maintain a meaningful view of the world and one’s place within it (namely that models of reality can not depict reality in it’s entirety, thus better models can always be developed and, further, we are each capable of developing them). This stance then guides our acquisition of thinking tools and the experiences that we learn from. As we deepen our sense of mastery in our respective fields while nurturing creativity, we become increasingly capable of blazing trails and gaining ground on the ever elusive “ideal” solution to any challenge.
I don’t know about you but I sure have some opposing models to dance with, some complexity to wade in, and most importantly, some trade-offs to revisit!