How to Form Better Opinions and Make Better Decisions

On the show, George recalled a college class where one of his professors debated, all by himself, if CEOs were overpaid for an hour-and-twenty minutes. George said, at the end of class, he had no idea where his professor stood on the issue, but he understood executive compensation better than he ever imagined.

There’s a relatively new concept called “integrative thinking”.   It was developed by Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto and author of the book The Opposable Mind: How Successful Leaders Win Through Integrative Thinking.

A lot of people form an opinion and then look for evidence that they’re right. Scientists do the opposite – they go into an experiment with a hypothesis and try to prove it wrong.

You know you fully understand the subject at hand when you can argue all sides of the issue equally well, like George’s professor did. You could be on the debate team and win the contest no matter which side you argued.

3 possible outcomes

#1 – You may stick with what you originally thought.
Only now it’s not an uninformed, or slightly formed, or narrowly formed, opinion. You can have full confidence in it.

#2 – You may decide that you had it wrong.

Upon investigation, you discover the best alternative is the other side. You’re truly a scientist at decision-making – you disproved your original hypothesis!

#3 – A third alternative
The most likely outcome is some combination of the other two. That’s the point of integrative thinking – finding the best option by building upon two diametrically opposed positions.

A simple example

Picture yourself out to dinner with a friend. Everything has been spectacular. Your server brings over the dessert tray. That internal debate begins – should you have dessert? The debate might go something like this:

Ooh, that looks delicious …. I want it.
Oh, I can’t have dessert tonight.

I really do have a sweet tooth tonight.
Man, that’s going right to my hips.

I haven’t treated myself for a long time.
It’s so bad for me.

I’ve been dieting & exercising, so it’s okay.
I’ll have to work out twice as hard tomorrow if I eat that.

I’m still a little hungry.
I don’t need to spend the money.

Hey, I wonder if my friend would like to split a dessert with me!

There it is … the third alternative! You started out on one side or another – you should have dessert … or … you should skip dessert. By fully thinking through the issue in this admittedly simple example, you arrived at an option that wasn’t considered when you started.

Usually the best decision is one we haven’t previously thought of because it builds upon our prior thoughts. And the result isn’t a compromise, it’s an improvement.

Our bigg quote today comes from Joseph Joubert:

“It is better to debate a question without settling
it than to settle a question without debating it.”

Debate it now so you won’t question your decision later.

Next time, we’ll discuss why anything we can do, you can do better! Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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5 replies
  1. Anne
    Anne says:

    I love this concept, but I just know it won’t fly with my husband’s family. They are very 1-sided in their political views. I’ve learned to not even try to present another point-of-view. I tried once and they glared at me in such a way that I learned not to do that again!

    Reply
  2. George and Mary-Lynn
    George and Mary-Lynn says:

    Oh, yes….politics! That’s a tough one, Anne! You are right, there are certain topics with certain people that you just can’t have a balanced discussion with. But you get to observe their opinions (right or wrong) to better form yours! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

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