We are used to having opposable thumbs. They enable our hands to do things that are impossible for other creatures: write, thread needles, paint, sculpt, perform intricate surgical procedures.
Roger Martin, a business school dean in Toronto, urges us to imagine having an opposable mind. He contends that we are born with a capacity to hold two conflicting ideas in constructive tension, and says we can use that tension to think our way through to new and superior ideas. In his new book The Opposable Mind, he says, “Just as we can develop and refine the skill with which we employ our opposable thumbs to perform tasks that once seemed impossible, I’m convinced we can also, with patient practice, develop the ability to use our opposable minds to unlock solutions to problems that seem to resist every effort to solve them.”