CCMF Centre for Integrative Thinking Mission and Goals, Mihnea Moldoveanu, Rotman School -- June 20, 2002
Thursday, June 20, 2002, 5:00 p.m., at the Rotman School of Management, U. of Toronto
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Mihnea Moldoveanu, Inaugural Director, CCMF Centre for Integrative Thinking, Rotman School of Management
Cross-disciplinary successes are rare
e.g. AI as computer science with cognitive scientists
Even more fragmentation: macroeconomists talking to game theorists?
Job market -- unclear wants
MBAs as craftsmen, e.g. can do accounting, but can they run a division?
Decisions under multiple, conflicting views?
Lack in MBA programs.
Comment: Proof that integrative thinking makes better managers, any more than singing makes them better? Empirical work?
Definition of integrative thinking -- bigger, differently from other people around (salience).
Haven't gotten sufficiently precise that it can be testable.
If you look at successes in history, you see most in crossing disciplines.
e.g. behavioural science and computer science
e.g. neurophysiology (maps) and neuropsychology (what do you think).
Integration leads to new insights.
In addition, perception in labour market is that MBAs from top schools that degrees are too narrow -- at least a small segment.
Comment: Personal experience counter to this view. 20 years since engineering degree, and five years since MBA degree. Recognize strengths and other people's strengths, so that can create
What makes you think that you would need the top people in every discipline?
Aren't biased against specialization.
e.g. George Soros has separated himself from his group, but uses ex post rationalizations.
Comment: Life cycle on MBAs?
Again, don't want to conflict with being an excellent mathematician or game theorist, but would like to inform that the one discipline doesn't solve anything.
Comment: The world has a lot of problems, but the functional silo thinking that got us here isn't going to get us out. Raping the common, not being socially responsible, taking advantage of
less-educated, not global (except for riches), not thinking sustainable. Where there are contradictions, need to step back.
Homer Dixon, the Ingenuity Gap: there are a class of problems, with prevalence that have inability to be solved, e.g. urban growth, third world economics.
Books written about simple-mindedness of managers: if you ask why, more than 4 times, they run out of answers.
Don't want to set expectations about solving world problems.
Adaptability around discontinuities.
Comment. From an arts and science background, like this view. What about students that come from arts and science backgrounds, instead of engineering programs? Does the Rotman School have to start
tabula rasa? What happens at the undergraduate level? Is it possible that business schools undermine integrative thinking from the undergraduate level?
Comment: Arts background, struggled amongst engineering. MIT Ph.D. engineering teaching organization behaviour, excellent. Strategy is where you're supposed to integrated?
Exportability of understanding.
e.g. Michael Polanyi, chemist, writing a seminal book in knowledge.
e.g. Albert Einstein, not knowing much, understanding the concepts, leaving the math for others.
Little acknowledgement to other dimensions: schizophrenic feeling, because the lenses are so much different.
Deplore the lack of a course of an epistemology course at the beginning of a program of science, etc.
The fact that integrative thinking emerges naturally, doesn't guarantee integration.
Comment: Now 15 of 20 courses in a major, and people focus in a discipline that they're good at, so that they can get to grad school.
Comment: Never a spotlight on integrating things, it's a race to the finish line when studying. Maybe 20% of the people get it.
People that have spoken here are good at integrating, but they don't think of integration as a explicit skill.
Separate out people's words and actions -- some people are smart with words, foolish with actions, and reverse.
Would like to have this both ways.
Comment: Assessment to measurements.
The incentive structure doesn't always reward narrow specialization.
Would like to a Santa Fe Institute of the north.
Comment: Need to ask self, what guarantee that your silo will exist in 5 years? Can you adapt?
Comment: e.g. Canadian Armed Forces, were thinking land, sea and ski, and this never actually thought about all three.
Comment: "Business Thinking", forward by Steven Covey. Bad thinking, versus lack of thinking?
Trying to keep away from rationalizing the project, from generalizations, e.g. if you had only thought as I did, then you're lucky I was around.
Common strategy by doctors and consultants.
How risky, and how much is at stake, when you put together explanations?
Can explain anything, from sociology, psychology and economics backgrounds, all mutually conflicting.
Risky to say you will do something, because it gives people an audit trail.
A few years later, people come back and say you were off at least in your predictions.
Would rather test on predictions versus explanations.
Comment: A prediction towards "can they run a division"? Have been hiring and firing MBAs for 10 years (and don't have one). If could find a way of training people so that it is predictive, and
responsible for the products of another group, then the world looks bright.
If you look at all variables around cognitive development, and success in finance/life/sex, you can't predict more than 35%
Psychologists say predicting 35% is huge.
Are there other sets of skills that people can use?
Interdisciplinary cabals: e.g. behavioural decision theory.
Recognition of CCMF as a place like NECSI and Santa Fe Institute, putting Toronto on the map as a place of creating a new world as a centre of excellence.
Comment: Do culture difference affect this?
Yes, but not sure how to capture them.
e.g. Economics are based on rules of behaviour, boiling down to axioms of rational behaviour. These axioms represent the culture.
Have a project, taking disciplines and axiomizing them, i.e. boiling down the beliefs so that people in the field would accept them and believe them.
Comment: Does integrative thinking need to be taught, or just unhindered?
When John MacArthur tried to change the Harvard Business School, he provided seed funding to some centers, e.g. Mike Jensen Accounting and Organizations, Michael Porter Strategy and
First year will be doing this -- building bridges.
Harvard, UCLA and CCMF.
Will be doing seed funding.
Will close here.
E-mail him at micamo@rotman
Not a simple problem.
The brain as a tool, to do things.
What are the limits, and what can you do with it?
Comment: Since you just wrote a book on Master Passions.
The book isn't the emotional side of the brain, but the brain side of the emotions.
Why interest in Marx, or Adam Smith?
Why are some ideas so powerful, that they're like a narcotic.
A parallel between the history of ideas, and how people get a hold of their ideas, as opposed to their ideas getting a hold of them.
This is part of integrative thinking.
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