Tag Archives: Roger Martin

Looking for something that works

It is impossible to begin to learn that which one thinks one already knows.
— Epictetus

images-3.jpgA week ago, I sat in on a lecture by Roger Martin, dean at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. The talk, sponsored by the Portland branding/design firm Ziba Design, was in the open atrium/auditorium at the Wieden+Kennedy headquarters in the Pearl District. There were W+K and Ziba people in the audience, but lots of other people, too. I noticed the head of a Portland arts organization, for example, and a couple of members of a prominent local law firm.

The epigraph above comes from the beginning of Chapter Six of Martin’s book, The Opposable Mind, which was on sale in the atrium and doing a brisk business with the crowd, it seemed, though perhaps less brisk than the table of pastries. It’s a nice quote, and above all a practical quote. Which describes Martin’s book, too, because it describes a practical approach to problem-solving.

And that’s what I found so interesting. We have reached a point of such bureaucratic stasis in our national life (both business and government and everything in between), of such stalemate in our way of thinking about problems, that what be commonplaces to followers of good old-fashioned John Dewey pragmatism, are taken now as new developments, creative breakthroughs. Martin’s idea is that our most successful leaders are able to look at competing ideas, take the best elements from them and come up with a newer, better idea.
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