Roger Martin – Integrative Thinking

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Roger Martin – Integrative Thinking – Contents

  • Roger Martin Biography
  • Roger Martin’s Big Ideas
    • Integrative Thinking
    • Design Thinking
  • Interesting Facts and Insights about Roger Martin
  • Career Advice Quotes by Roger Martin
  • Business Advice Quotes by Roger Martin
  • Leadership and Management Advice Quotes by Roger Martin
  • Roger Martin Quotes
  • Books by Roger Martin
  • Journal Articles by Roger Martin
  • Common Questions about Roger Martin
  • Videos about Roger Martin

Roger Martin Biography

Roger Martin was the Dean of the School of Management at the University of Toronto from 1998 to 2013 and an author of several prominent business books.

Martin has expanded several essential business concepts in use today, including integrative thinking. He is recognized as one of the field’s most influential thinkers.


Roger Martin’s Big Ideas:

Integrative Thinking

Integrative thinking is a methodology for solving complex problems. That theory was originated by Roger Martin and collaboratively developed with his colleague Mihnea C. Moldoveanu.

Integrative Thinking is defined as the ability to constructively face the tensions of opposing models. Instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, Integrative Thinking involves generating a creative resolution to the tension in the form of a new model. The model contains elements of the individual models but is superior to each.

Design Thinking

Roger Martin’s book, “The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage,” describes the concept of design thinking. The book explains how companies can incorporate Design Thinking into their organizational structure for long term innovation and results.

Design Thinking balances analytical and intuitive forms of business thinking. It combines an openness to an exploitative mentality, striking a balance between innovation and a systematic scalable process.


Interesting Facts and Insights about Roger Martin

  • Born: Roger Martin was born in 1956 in Wallenstein, Ontario, Canada.
  • Nationality: Roger Martin has dual U.S. & Canadian citizenship.
  • Harvard: Roger Martin earned his Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree “artium baccalaureus” at Harvard University in 1979.
  • MBA: Roger Martin earned his MBA at Harvard University in 1979.
  • Management Consulting: Martin began his career at Monitor Group, a global management consulting firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Dean: Martin was appointed dean of the Rotman School of Management in 1998, which he held until 2013.
  • Boards: Martin’s board experience included: Thomson Reuters Corporation, BlackBerry Ltd, the Skoll Foundation, and Tennis Canada.
  • Columnist: Martin has been a columnist for Businessweek, the Washington Post, and the Financial Times.
  • HBR: Martin as written fifteen Harvard Business Review articles.
  • Integrative Thinking: Martin has focused much of his research on integrative thinking, business design, and most recently corporate responsibility.
  • Wife: Martin married fellow dual US & Canadian citizen Marie-Louise Skafte in 2015
  • Order of Canada: Martin was appointed a member of the Order of Canada in 2016.

“It is impossible to begin to learn that which one thinks one already knows.”

– Roger Martin

Career Advice Quotes by Roger Martin

“It is impossible to begin to learn that which one thinks one already knows.”

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

“You need to be uncomfortable and apprehensive: True strategy is about placing bets and making hard choices. The objective is not to eliminate risk but to increase the odds of success.”

“The status quo is more tenacious than anyone would ever imagine. The human mind prefers continuity rather than change.”

“So it really has to be committed to eliminating a bad habit to even start down that path.”

“The two most fundamental strategic choices are deciding where to play and how to win.”

“I always have a pad of paper and a pencil within reach, to catch on the wing this turn of phrase which strikes me as felicitous, that idea which I hope to be able to examine more closely in the light of day.”


Business Advice Quotes by Roger Martin

“Business people don’t need to understand designers better. They need to be designers.”

“The Chinese character for “crisis,” he pointed out to me, combines the characters for “danger” and “opportunity.”

“Design isn’t just about making things beautiful; it’s also about making things work beautifully.”

“If you can define the problem differently than everybody else in the industry, you can generate alternatives that others aren’t thinking about.”

“When it comes to innovation, business has much to learn from design. The philosophy in design shops is, ‘try it, prototype it, and improve it’.”

“I was blown away when I figured out that none of the great integrative moves that I studied came as a result of starting with a blank sheet of paper – as many innovation coaches suggest.”

“Integrative solutions came directly from mining the existing models for the best of their nuggets. So I never start with a blank sheet of paper anymore.”

“The fundamental purpose of design thinking is to produce something that does not now exist. And so it is with integrative thinking – in the face of conflicting models, it seeks to generate a creative resolution of the tension in the form of a model that contains elements of each but is superior to both. So the goals are aligned completely.”


Leadership and Management Advice Quotes by Roger Martin

“Fundamentally, the conventional thinker prefers to accept the world as it is. The integrative thinker welcomes the challenge of shaping the world for the better.”

“The ability to face constructively the tension of opposing ideas and instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, generate a creative resolution of the tension in the form of a new idea that contains elements of the opposing ideas but is superior to each.”

“You can’t make a renaissance person anymore, because the range of what you would need to do is just impossible. But you could actually assemble a renaissance team.”

“The integrative thinkers rely on their “renaissance teams” to broaden salience, maintain sophisticated causality, and create a holistic architecture in their drive for creative resolution.”

“In order to have a hope of creating better answers, we need to deeply understand the logic of the opposing answers. That means thinking about how we think about both models – not just do we like one versus the other.”

“We have to ask: How do I think each model produces the results that it does? Metacognition, thinking about thinking, builds up our capacity to do that and to play with opposing ideas – and new models – in real-time.”

“Typically to get toward a productive outcome in a negotiation you have to make the initial move of genuinely exploring someone’s model. If you don’t, it is unlikely that they will be willing to explore yours. And if you genuinely explore and understand theirs – without judging it – they will be willing to explore yours. Once they reach that point, they are primed to explore the productive combination of both models and won’t be as obsessed about trying to make sure their model prevails.”


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“The two most fundamental strategic choices are deciding where to play and how to win.”

– Roger Martin

Books by Roger Martin

  • The Design of Business, by Roger Martin, 2009
  • The Opposable Mind, by Roger Martin, 2007
  • Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works, by Alan G. Lafley and Roger Martin, 2013
  • Creating Great Choices: A Leader’s Guide to Integrative Thinking, by Jennifer Riel and Roger Martin, 2017
  • Fixing the Game: Bubbles, Crashes, and What Capitalism Can Learn from the NFL, by Roger Martin, 2011
  • Getting Beyond Better: How Social Entrepreneurship Works, by Roger Martin and Sally R. Osberg, 2015
  • Diaminds: Decoding the Mental Habits of Successful Thinkers, by Mihnea C. Moldoveanu and Roger Martin, 2009
  • HBR’s 10 Must Reads 2018: The Definitive Management Ideas of the Year From Harvard Business Review, by Daniel Kahneman, Michael Porter, Robert S. Kaplan, and Roger Martin, 2017
  • Canada: What It Is, What It Can Be, by James Milway and Roger Martin, 2009
  • The Responsibility Virus: How Control Freaks, Shrinking Violets-and The Rest Of Us-can Harness The Power Of True Partnership, by Roger Martin, 2002

Journal Articles by Roger Martin

  • Two Keys to Sustainable Social Enterprise, by Roger L. Martin and Sally R. Osberg, Harvard Business Review, 2015
  • Why Smart People Struggle with Strategy, Roger Martin, HBR.org, 2014
  • The Big Lie of Strategic Planning, Roger Martin, Harvard Business Review, 2014
  • Strategic Choices Need to Be Made Simultaneously, Not Sequentially, by Roger Martin, HBR.org, 2017
  • A Little Competition Could Improve Your HR, IT, and Legal Departments, by Roger Martin, HBR.org, 2017
  • M&A: The One Thing You Need to Get Right, by Roger Martin, Harvard Business Review, 2016
  • For retailers, expensive lawsuits focus the Mind wonderfully, by Roger Martin and Alison Kemper, The Globe and Mail, 2015
  • The First Question to Ask of Any Strategy, by Roger Martin, HBR.org, 2015
  • Life Lessons from a Beloved Mentor, by Roger Martin, Rotman Magazine, 2015
  • Strategy Is About Both Resources and Positioning, by Roger Martin, HBR.org, 2015
  • There Are Still Only Two Ways to Compete, by Roger Martin, HBR.org, 2015
  • Stop Distinguishing Between Execution and Strategy, by Roger Martin, HBR.org, 2015
  • Does Cheap Online Video Trump Text? by Roger Martin, HBR.org, 2014
  • Strategy Isn’t What You Say, It’s What You Do, by Roger Martin, HBR.org, 2014

“Integrative solutions came directly from mining the existing models for the best of their nuggets. So I never start with a blank sheet of paper anymore.”

– Roger Martin

Common Questions about Roger Martin

  • What are Roger Martin’s Five Questions to Build a Strategy?
    • WHAT: What are our aspirations and goals?
    • WHERE: Where will we choose to play and not play?
    • HOW: How will we choose to win against the competitors there?
    • CAPABILITIES: What capabilities are necessary to win?
    • SYSTEMS: What management systems are necessary to build key capabilities?
  • What is Roger Martin’s Integrative Thinking?
    • Integrative thinking is a methodology for solving complex problems.
    • “…the ability to constructively face the tensions of opposing models, and instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, generating a creative resolution of the tension in the form of a new model that contains elements of the individual models, but is superior to each.”
  • How to contact Roger Martin?

BIG IDEAS:

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Mini-MBA of the big ideas that have shaped Careers, Leadership, and Business.


Videos about Roger Martin

Roger Martin – Playing to Win

Roger L. Martin: “Creating Great Choices: A Leader’s Guide to Integrative Thinking” – Talks at Google


“Design isn’t just about making things beautiful; it’s also about making things work beautifully.”

– Roger Martin

Image Credit: World Economic Forum [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]