I just finished the third of four week-long residence weeks for school.  One more to go and I’ll get some semblance of a life back…my wife can’t wait.

“The Opposable Mind” by Roger Martin was one of the books we had to read as prep for the week.  Roger is dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.  Roger is one of the most prominent and prolific supporters of integrative thinking.  What is integrative thinking?

“Integrative Thinking is the ability to constructively face the tensions of opposing models, and instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, generating a creative resolution of the tension in the form of a new model that contains elements of the individual models, but is superior to each.”

I decided to attend Rotman because they were the only school in Canada teaching Integrative Thinking.  I’ve always been drawn to not having to pick A or B, especially when neither A, nor B, truly solve the problem at hand.

I believe that the OSS community needs a healthy dose of Integrative Thinking.  For too long we have chosen “model B” because it was superior to “model A” in aspects that we felt were important.  But few OSS vendors have gone back to reconsider if there are aspects of “model B” holding us back.  Or if aspects of “model A” couldn’t be leveraged in coming up with a hybrid of the two models.  I for one am a believer that “model C”, with aspects of both A & B, will ultimately be the way forward for OSS vendors.

I’d recommend the book to anyone interested in thinking about problems without reverting to choosing between sub-optimal alternatives.  The traditional software business model vs. the open source business model would definitely fit that description.  As an added bonus, Roger profiles Bob Young, of Red Hat fame, in the book.  And since Roger, Bob and I (and Zack) are Canadians; consider it your homage to the maple leaf on Canada Day (i.e. today).