Integrative Thinking

In this article entitled Integrative Thinking, author Graham Douglas explores the differences between critical thinking and integrative thinking and addresses how we are programmed to think critically because of our education and gives us tips about ways of breaking that hard coding. He begins by talking about how our education conditioned us to fix problems by breaking the problem down into parts, look for past data about the parts, analyze trends for the data, and settle on a course for action. He discusses how this gives us a disadvantage in our lives and work. He then discusses the steps to integrative thinking and gives us tips on how to become integrative thinkers. These tips include:

1.   Memorize some general categories to help trigger connections in your mind; for example, people, market, product, money, physical, social and cultural environment.

2. Think integratively more often so you habitually make connections to create a whole new picture rather than habitually break down an old picture into its parts and put it together again with a “facelift.”

3 Wonder, from many angles, about what you have and what you want. Problem solving is simply the negotiating of change from what you have to what you want.

4. Create a sensible narrative connecting your wonderings.

5. Manage your experiences in acting out the narrative.


Would you agree with Douglas when he says that our way of thinking has been manipulated by the education we receive? Do you believe that every person has the potential to become an integrative thinker?

2 Responses to Integrative Thinking

  • I think some of the points Douglas makes are interesting, especially the parts about making a “narrative” for connecting wonderings, ideas, etc. I think the narrative helps give some context to general terms like “integrative thinking.” However, I have an issue with the first point above. Douglas argues that we’ve been conditioned by our education to break things into parts–but then suggests that we “memorize” categories that help trigger connections. I think that methodology sounds really similar to what our education teaches us–breaking things down, analyzing them, making connections, etc. I think staying away from breaking things down helps build a more holistic view of each problem.

  • I too posted an article on integrative thinking and do agree with what Douglas. I do think that our education conditioned us to find a problem, break it down, analyze, and find one solution for the problem.I thiink it’s okay to continue to break problems down, but we shouldn’t focus only one part of the problem. We should focus on the entire problem. I also believe that every person has the potential to become an integrative thinker. There are those rare people, who are integrative thinkers already, but I also think one can practice to become an integrative thinker. The more one practices and puts himself/herself in these situations, the easier it will be to become an integrative thinker.

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