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[Roger Martin]

Mike Moldoveanu is director of the Desautels Centre for Integrative Thinking

[Associate Professor and Director, Desautels Centre for Integrative Thinking™, Rotman School; Co-Author, The Future of MBA – The MBA of the Future (working title for Oxford University Press, Fall 2007); Master Passions: Emotion, Narrative, and the Development of Culture (MIT Press, 2002)]


[Mihnea Moldoveanu]

New book:  MBAs of the future

Take three words (designing, thinker, future) and put them together to make you comfortable

Something about designing a thinker

Mind is an uncontrollable organ

Opportunity:  the new workforce, to create value, relies on a new skill set

  • These are epistemic skill sets:  the ability to guide your mind to do different things
  • Create a basic science of integrative thinking

Market opportunity:

  • Adapted from Johnson, Manyika and Yee, three McKinsey consultants
  • Transformational jobs:  matter into matter, or information into information
  • Transactional jobs, different transactions
  • Tacit:  structuration and management of complex interactions
  • Significant majority are in the tacit jobs, and require tacit skills

When don't have a science, often call it tacit

  • To put back on the path, make it implicit
  • Differentiate between algorithmic and non-algorithmic skills
  • e.g. making a computer program itself, outset of skill set

Expertise map of a large telecomm company

  • Person needs expertise in different languages to design a base station: hardware, software, ...
  • Underlying disciplines
  • Different languages
  • Different underlying sciences
  • Different modes of thinking, justifying
    • Engineer prefers deductive, marketer prefers inductive

General manager wants to integrate:  the tacit skills integrating across the domains

  • Mental model clash across a large family of models

Can have different mental models of fairness, e.g. end of year performance review, with a response coming back "it's not fair"

  • Fairness on equality on rights, needs, sharing of authority, effort, etc.
  • Words "it's not fair" obscure the underlying mental model fact

Conflict monger, see conflict everywhere

  • Thus, mental model clash when people are using the same words, but in different senses

Ability to resolve mental model clash varies with different thinkers

Herb Kelleher, Southwest Airlines: lowest cost and highest profit, yet highest customer satisfaction

  • Have to recognize the clash, and live it
  • Get it by thinking through the detailed implementation
  • Thus, short-haul airline that doesn't have frills, but looks after employees

Jack Welch, General Electric

  • Stretch goals versus productive budgeting and planning meetings (as an efficient coordinating device)
  • Resolution: Think outside the usual models
  • Delinking of discussions of hopes and dreams from budget conversations
  • Cake:  I cut you, you choose
  • Can expand to an envy-free decision protocol

Richard Currie, Loblaws

  • Low prices for customers, versus high margins for Loblaws
  • Creative resolution: President's Choice

Moses Znaimer:

  • Television stations as the space between programs
  • Can use this space to feel local, while doing global programming

Integrative thinking:

  • Think about learning to swim, and how to turn at the end of the pool
  • One may, watch lots of videos of Mark Spitz, but it's complicated
  • Go to a learning theorist:  break the complex sequences into simple sequences and then put them together into a complex sequence
  • Thus create some simpler models, that can put together

Four modules

  • Suspension of belief
  • Suspension of disbelief
  • Interactive reasoning
  • Behavioral responsiveness

Integrative thinking has to be guided by a stance, it can't be guided by a role

Stance has two parts:

  • 1. Cognitive pragmatism: says mental behaviour is the result of a choice
    • Brain constantly behaves consciously and unconsciously
    • Can do reconnaisance to figure out what is product and unproductive
    • Thinking, thinking about thinking, and then thinking about thinking about thinking
  • 2. Gloptimization: global optimization, as compare to local optimization
    • Active avoidance of local optima
    • Think of your business as lots of rocks, want to get to the Himalayas, but you might get trapped on Kilimanjaro
    • You'll have a sugar high from getting to Kilimajaro
    • Tries to inculcate mental habits associated with global landscapes

Cognitive pragmatists not only think about what I should do, but also what should I think, how I should think, and why

  • e.g. you've gained weight, saying because it's true, as opposed to the suit, etc.
  • Point: there's choice on what you say, and what you focus on
  • Cognitive pragmatists focus on the value of believing some things over others
  • Instead of just choosing between a trade off, they think about an expanded value set
  • When do you stop? (or else it becomes obsessive-compulsive)

Evidence that you think it's helpful to be a cognitive pragmatist:

  • Sterman:  those who do best are those who first think about to approach the problem, before attacking the problem

Judgement in the future, often is based on a few data points

  • Linear regression, simplicity, doesn't mean that we have multiple ways to look at the past
  • Could be straight line, curve, or exact fit
  • Choice isn't given by data, have to make an a priori choice
  • On what basis do I make the choice?


  • Trapped in local optimum, how to get to the global optimum?
  • Instead of making rest the default mental state, make it search
  • Intensify the search
  • Occasionally, through in curve balls

Suspension of disbelief:

  • Engineer's view:  probability optimality, deductive logical closure
  • Marketer's view:  Has a lot of information to deal with, looking for face validity and inductive logic
  • Mental model clash, resulting in contempt, i.e. you just don't understand
  • Understanding requires extended suspension of disbelief

What do sophomores do?

  • Sophomores are the subjects of psych experiments
  • Kruglanski and Webster
  • They seize on and idea, and then freeze it, ignoring alternatives
  • Then they justify it, and refute alternatives
  • After fortress is build, go back to step 1
  • This is pessimistic to make integrative thinkers
  • Have to suspend disbelief at least long enough to understand it

Reason for knowing this is to have people reflect

Suspension of belief:

  • Two metaphors:  (a) management is all aobut selling, vs. (b) management is all a negotiation
  • Want to wade in the complexity

Sophomores suspend belief by ...

  • Believing it before they understand it
  • Hold it in our minds, and then decided whether it is correct or not
  • Experiments of Dan Gilbert: Keep holding the belief, even if it's not discredited
  • But in Langer's work, can make the belief formation process more flexible

Interactive reasoning:

  • Conversation, on what I think and what you think
  • There's also what I think you think, and what you think I think
  • Should go to deeper levels, alternatively, we don't have grounds for our words to make sense to each other
  • Mindless attibution layer, but deeper, a "first understanding" layer
  • Can draw conclusions before, during and after meetings, and compare

Sophomore reasoning:

  • We'll have false attributions

Walk the talk: all of the preceding are in the mind, can you get your being to take this

  • Follow with behaviour?

Mental model responsiveness:

  • Model A with an outcome (failure)
  • Change the mental model, but then change the behaviour with the mental model
  • This is difficult, will is something that represents a muscle


  • If you proofread a text, then it makes it hard to stop watching a boring movie
  • If you first make a non-obvious choice, it makes it hard to persist in attempting to solve a difficult puzzle
  • If first suppress an undesirable though, it makes it harder to suppress signs of amusement

Need to think about how to train the will

  • e.g. if hungry, don't eat, listen to Mozart

These are four modules, out of a projected 7 or 8, to understand the nuts and bolts of integrative thinking

Research project will be called "winking at reality"


Effect of self-confidence on suspending belief or disbelief

  • Not precise enough
  • It talk about self-efficacy, ability for me to conduct a task, it's better
  • Self-confidence particularized to a skill set

Skill of integrating different information processing styles, e.g. Hogarth's work on moderating and modifying and integrating

  • Yes, but interested in specific linkages between processing styles, and what managers do
  • Connectionist styles and interactions, but end up with Rumelhard and Chomsky, and managers will say leave me alone
  • Trying to understand the phenomena
  • This recaps structural arguments, but in a much phenomenological context

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2007/06/01 14:35 Mihnea Moldoveanu, "Designing the Thinker of the Future"