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Integrative Thinking

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
As we all argue/discuss the right and wrong of skiing; the different teaching methods - this article came to mind. Something worth sharing I believe. I love the concept.

From "How Successful Leaders Think" Harvard Business Review (The link is just to a summary of the article.)


Brilliant leaders excel at integrative thinking. They can hold two opposing ideas in their minds at once. Then, rather than settling for choice A or B, they forge an innovative “third way” that contains elements of both but improves on each.

How to become an integrative thinker? Resist the simplicity and certainty that comes with conventional “either-or” thinking. Embrace the messiness and complexity of conflicting options. And emulate great leaders’ decision-making approach—looking beyond obvious considerations.

Your reward? Instead of making unattractive trade-offs, you generate a wealth of profitable solutions for your business.
post #2 of 17
I mentioned this in the other thread where you had mentioned this, but I'll also do it here. This is great stuff, and very helpful for those working to understand (rather than to be "right").
post #3 of 17
Very interesting and true, a higher stage of thinking.

Personally I like to challenge traditional thinking, not that it is wrong necessarily but perhaps not fully understood. Sometimes it ticks people off and starts a defensive feud because people do not like to be wrong or challenged or something like that. I just want to understand concepts better and for me challenging common knowledge many times yields deeper understanding of a topic.

We have probably all gained a better understanding of functional rotary movements in skiing because of the polarity of the two schools of thought here. The smart people see advantages and disadvantages of each school of thought and formed a more rounded, more concise understanding of the functional use of rotary movements in skiing.
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
I wish there was a way I could share the whole article with you. I got a free subscription to HBR for a year (it costs a fortune) and reading the whole article pretty much changed my whole way of thinking.

Other concepts from it are that if you do think that way you'll get criticized for it a lot:

"Can't you just make up your mind?"
"You're taking too much time on this, just decide already!"

The article explains how you can continue to travel down two different paths of thinking simultaneously. That if you don't feel forced to make decision "A" before moving on to decision "B" you can actually end up making better decisions. You actually travel down both branches of "A" and see where the both lead, possibly even branching off of those branches as well. It's a lot more complex then just blending "A" and "B."

The risk of not doing this is that you make 3 or 4 branch decisions to eventually come to a deadlock (or dead end?) and wish you could go back to one of the earlier decisions, but it's too late.

Doesn't all apply to skiing, but it's really great stuff.
post #5 of 17
Actually Steve- I think it applies quite appropriately to skiing!

Skiing has a logic and a pattern. With any set of given inputs, there is pretty much a pre-ordained outcome. It takes a skilled individual to interupt that chain of events.

How many times have you been on a chair watching someone ski, and you see that chain unfolding in front of you- you know the skier is going to fall before s/he is even aware something is wrong! Its all but guaranteed!

Thats when a more experienced skier keeps more options available at all times, rather than committing to a single one and pursuing it to its inevitable conclusion. Of course this doesn't just happen. It does take a great deal of focus or an extraordinary amount of time before these options are available in an instinctive way.

But this is what thinking of longer term strategies is about, where as most skiers are focused on only the very short term future.

Very interesting stuff! Thanks for sharing!
post #6 of 17
The book is out, now (available from Amazon and elsewhere). I recognize the cover; I may actually have it at home already!

Man, Amazon Prime is an evil invention...
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
I guess what i read in Harvard Business Review was just an article based on the book. So what I posted above was An Excerpt from an Executive Summary of an Article which was based on a book.

Even without Prime, Amazon is just a bit too easy. In fact my first online purchase of my life was in 1998 from Amazon.com, then just books. Three books on white water canoeing.
post #8 of 17
I agree, SMJ. But Prime just makes it that much easier. "Oh, there's no shipping or tax... I may as well just grab it and it'll be here in two days..." I can't count the number of times I've done that! :

It turns : into
post #9 of 17
This discussion sounds similar to the old "tyranny of the OR" vs "genius of the AND" discussion in Built to Last (IIRC). It is very interesting stuff. Funny that Amazon.com came up in this context. Prime, among other things, is an example of this form of thinking.

Back to the skiing thing though. While I have not read the referenced full HBR thing, I'd speculate a bit and say that one thing to remember is that this is about things believed to be "opposed" rather than things that are in fact opposed. Sometimes the differences can be subtle. But at the end of the day, you don't get to violate laws of physics (real ones) just because you wish you could. What you can do, is crack through assumptions that make you think things are "opposite" when in fact they are not. Recognizing the difference is key. This applies both to equipment and technique...
post #10 of 17
Although don't you think that pretending that the laws of physics don't exist can at times allow new ideas to emerge that turn out to be useful in the "real world"?
post #11 of 17
That'd make for an interesting discussion about creative thought. However in the context of skiing, I suspect we can stick with Newtonian mechanics.
post #12 of 17
Oh, I don't know. I think that the interpretation of what's possible based on an understanding of physics often causes people to stop before breakthrough. But, that's just me. I don't like, "Oh, that's not possible!" I tend to try to find ways to break through that...
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
I was just reviewing some old threads and came across this and thought it was worthy of a bump.
post #14 of 17
Once we do something Newtonian mechanics will determine what happens next.
I think the whole point was to free up your thinking, so that you'd have a larger number of choices, which would then follow the Newtonian rules.
post #15 of 17
Integrative thinking-as presented, reminds me of good ole' Hegel. Who basically said that the modern (modern in 1800's) mind was constantly carrying antipodal concepts around, but unlike in the past (as hegel saw it) we no longer strive to accept one and reject the other, but rather to create a new synthetic mindset derived from the antagonistic interplay of the two. I'm sure many of us remember the old Hegelian dialectic from Philosophy 101 Thesis+Antithesis=synthesis.

This Makes a nice approach to modern skiing as we wade through often opposing techniques and goals. Especially if we contrast it with the often prevalent Platonic model, where one might argue there is a perfect form of the Ski carve, and we can judge the value of all ski moves and techniques on whether they are moving us closer to or further from achieving that conceptualized, formal movement.

Yep-this is the sort of stuff I'm reduced to today because an ice storm has closed my local hill!!!

post #16 of 17

All true...

...or to quote Ron LeMaster, "I'm not an absolutist." I have a pretty good idea of what skiing is, but, for most people, explaining to them what angulation is, for example, isn't necessarily going to get them to angulate. A particularly bright athlete is, hopefully, going to say something like "So we're going to angulate, huh? Why do that?"

That's a really interesting way of turning things around, because suddenly it's not the coach or instructor's agenda, it's the student or athlete's goals. Which is how it should be. One of my current coaches is really good, except for the fact that he knows exactly how we ought to ski and how to get there. Sometimes he's right on the money, other times he's not even in the same book, let alone on the same page, as his athletes.

We had a coach a few years ago who did something I always do, which is, before we slap in the angulation tape, or the countering tape, or whatever, and start that rap, of asking each one of us what our individual goals were. When I said "I'm tired of getting waxed in GS, I want to start winning in that event", we both instantly knew what kind of stuff I was going to be working on.

I used to do the same thing when I was teaching as a PSIA L3. Where do you want to go with your skiing, Mrs. Jones? And if the answer was "Get better so I can ski with my husband", I'd say "That's fine...but it's an individual sport, so let's say you want to take a run or two by yourself...what would constitute a fun experience in that realm?" And if the answer is, "Just cruise the blues...not too fast, just feel in control and enjoy the scenery, no interest in skiing the blacks like my husband", well, I suddenly had a different teaching plan. I'm going to go find some buffed out, uninhabited green/blue runs and work on the security of speed control...and once that's in place, teach the joy of letting go just a little bit. On the other hand, if I get her husband and he wants to learn to ski bumps, we'll go challenge ourselves on something bumpy but doable, where we're working on the skills, but we're also playing with mentally extending the boundaries of what we think we can do.

So you see where I'm headed. I know I can coach anybody to do anything, but the most important thing for me as a coach is to find out where the athlete wants to go, and to not impose my own agenda about where I might think he or she should go...
post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
But if you hook up a 110 generator to a 220 well pump you still get no running water. (no power for days, posting via my iPhone.)
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