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Roger Martin

Playing to Win

Professor Roger Martin is a writer, strategy advisor and is currently the #1 ranked management thinker in world. He is also a former dean and is the present Institute Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto in Canada.

In 2017, Roger Martin was named the world’s #1 management thinker by Thinkers50, a biannual ranking of the most influential global business thinkers. In previous years, he was ranked 3rd, 6th and 7th .

Roger is the Institute Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute and the Michael Lee-Chin Family Institute for Corporate Citizenship at the Rotman School of Management and is the Premier’s Chair in Productivity & Competitiveness. From 1998 to 2013, he served as the dean. Previously, he spent 13 years as a director of Monitor Company, a global strategy consulting firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he served as co-head of the firm for two years.

His research work is in Integrative Thinking, Business Design, Strategy, Corporate Social Responsibility and Country Competitiveness. He writes extensively and is a regular contributor to: Harvard Business Review’s The Conversation blog, the Financial Times’ Judgment Call column, and the Guardian Sustainable Business. He has written 24 Harvard Business Review articles and published 11 books: Creating Great Choices written with Jennifer Riel (Harvard Business Review Press (HBRP, 2017) Getting Beyond Better written with Sally Osberg (HBRP, 2015) and Playing to Win written with A.G. Lafley (HBRP, 2013); Fixing the Game (HBRP, 2011); The Design of Business (HBRP, 2009); The Opposable Mind (HBRP, 2007); The Responsibility Virus (Basic Books, 2002); Canada: What It Is, What It Can Be with Jim Milway (Rotman-UTP Publishing, 2012); and Diaminds with Mihnea Moldoveanu (University of Toronto Press, 2009), and The Future of the MBA with Mihnea Moldoveanu (Oxford University Press, 2008). In addition, he co-edited Rotman on Design with Karen Christensen (Rotman-UTP Publishing, 2013).

In 2010, he was named one of the 27 most influential designers in the world by Business Week. In 2007, he was named a Business Week 'B-School All-Star' for being one of the 10 most influential business professors in the world. Business Week also named him one of seven 'Innovation Gurus' in 2005.

Roger is a trusted strategy advisor to the CEOs of companies the world over, including Procter & Gamble, Lego and Verizon. He serves on a number of public service boards: The Skoll Foundation, The Good Jobs Institute (Chair), The Canadian Credit Management Foundation, and The Nine Dots Prize.

A Canadian from Wallenstein, Ontario, Roger received his AB from Harvard College, with a concentration in Economics, in 1979 and his MBA from the Harvard Business School in 1981.


Conventional wisdom―and business school curricula―teach us that making trade-offs is inevitable when it comes to hard choices. But sometimes, accepting the obvious trade-off just isn’t good enough: the choices in front of us don’t get us what we need. In those cases, rather than choosing the least bad option, we can use the models in front of us to create a new and better answer. This is integrative thinking.

First introduced by Roger Martin in The Opposable Mind, integrative thinking is an approach to problem solving that uses opposing ideas as the basis for innovation. Now, in Creating Great Choices, Martin and fellow Rotman expert, Jennifer Riel, vividly show how they have refined and enhanced the understanding and practice of integrative thinking through their work, teaching the concept and its principles to business and nonprofit executives, MBA students, even kids. Integrative thinking has been embraced by organizations such as Procter & Gamble, Deloitte, Verizon, and the Toronto District School Board―all seeking a replicable, thoughtful approach to creating a “third and better way” to make important choices in the face of unacceptable trade-offs.

The book includes new stories of successful integrative thinkers that will demystify the process of creative problem solving. It lays out the authors’ practical four-step methodology, which can be applied in virtually any context:

Articulating opposing models

Examining the models

Generating possibilities

Assessing prototypes

Stimulating and practical, Creating Great Choices blends storytelling, theory, and hands-on advice to help any leader or manager facing a tough choice.


The economy has transformed dramatically over the past fifty years from one in which the greatest rewards went to those in possession of natural resources and capital, to one in which managerial and investment management talent reap the lion’s share of the spoils. An unhelpful side-effect on this transition is that the modern economy rewards the trading of existing value more highly than the building of new value. Why has this happened? What is it about the infrastructure that underlies our modern democratic capitalist system, and what is it that facilitates it? This is but one question about the infrastructure for democratic capitalism that the Martin Prosperity Institute is tackling, and will continue to tackle in the years ahead.


In this compelling book, strategy guru Roger L. Martin and Skoll Foundation President and CEO Sally R. Osberg describe how social entrepreneurs target systems that exist in a stable but unjust equilibrium and transform them into entirely new, superior, and sustainable equilibria. All of these leaders—call them disrupters, visionaries, or changemakers—develop, build, and scale their solutions in ways that bring about truly revolutionary change, making the world a fairer and better place. The book begins with a probing and useful theory of social entrepreneurship, moving through history to illuminate what it is, how it works, and the nature of its role in modern society. The authors then set out a framework for understanding how successful social entrepreneurs actually go about producing transformative change. There are four key stages: understanding the world, envisioning a new future, building a model for change, and scaling the solution. With both depth and nuance, Martin and Osberg offer rich examples and personal stories, sharing lessons and tools invaluable to anyone who aspires to drive positive change, whatever the context. Getting Beyond Better sets forth a bold new framework, demonstrating how and why meaningful change actually happens in the world and providing concrete lessons and a practical model for businesses, policymakers, civil society organizations, and individuals who seek to transform our world for good.


Over three decades of work in strategy, Roger Martin has figured out how to turn strategy from being complicated, a chore and only occasionally effective to a task that is simple, fun and effective.

His new book with A.G. Lafley, with whom he worked closely throughout his time as Chairman and CEO of P&G, provides a handbook for creating great strategy, illustrated with practical case studies from their time together during the transformation of P&G. Roger has helped numerous other companies around the world develop their strategy capacity with the tools and processes outlined in the book.

He enjoys speaking to broad audiences on Playing to Win and working with senior management teams on their pressing strategy issues.


Canadians have achieved an enviable balance of economic prosperity and civic harmony, but as emerging countries like China, India, and Brazil take their place alongside developed economies, we cannot be complacent. Our high paying jobs, world-class learning and research institutes, excellent health care, and social safety nets exist only to the extent that we are innovative and competitive globally.

Canada: What It Is, What It Can Be provides an incisive examination of this country's increasing prosperity gap – the difference in value between what we do create and what we could create if we performed at our full potential. As Roger Martin and James Milway demonstrate, although we are proud of our trading prowess, we do not participate in world markets as aggressively and with innovative products and services as we could. While we want to take risks to achieve success, our business strategies and economic policies need to set the bar higher to achieve the success we want for Canada.

Written in an accessible style that helps laypeople understand complex economic concepts, Canada: What It Is, What It Can Be exposes the myths currently guiding our public policy, and provides ground-breaking new approaches for realizing our full prosperity potential.


Most companies today have innovation envy. They yearn to come up with a game-changing innovation like Apple’s iPod, or create an entirely new category like Facebook. Many make genuine efforts to be innovative - they spend on R&D, bring in creative designers, hire innovation consultants. But they get disappointing results.

Why? In The Design of Business, Roger Martin offers a compelling and provocative answer: we rely far too exclusively on analytical thinking, which merely refines current knowledge, leading to small improvements to the status quo.

To innovate and win, companies need design thinking. This form of thinking is rooted in how knowledge advances from one stage to another - from mystery (something we can’t explain) to heuristic (a rule of thumb that guides us toward solution) to algorithm (a predictable formula for producing an answer).

Martin shows how leading companies such as Procter & Gamble, Cirque du Soleil, RIM, and others use design thinking to push knowledge through the stages in ways that produce breakthrough innovations and competitive advantage.

Filled with deep insights and fresh perspectives, The Design of Business reveals the true foundation of successful, profitable innovation.


Since the turn of the new century, we’ve experienced two massive value-destroying market meltdowns and a series of ethics breaches and accounting scandals. Is it the inevitable decline of the American economy? The new normal, in a technology-enabled global marketplace? Now, bestselling author Roger Martin, called by The Times as one of the top fifty management thinkers in the world, reveals the culprit behind the sorry state of American capitalism in FIXING THE GAME: Bubbles, Crashes, and What Capitalism Can Learn from the NFL (Harvard Business Review Press; May 2011). A widely influential management thinker, Martin targets the problem and tells us how to fix it, now. Our deep and abiding belief that firms exist to maximize shareholder value has led to massive growth in stock-based compensation for executives and a naive and wrongheaded coupling of the “real” market (the business of designing, making and selling products and services) with the “expectations” market (the business of trading stocks, options and complex derivatives). It’s a bit like confusing winning the Super Bowl with winning a bet on the Super Bowl. “Our single-minded focus on the expectations market will continue driving us from crisis to crisis to ruin—unless we act now,” says Martin. Drawing on the analogy of the National Football League’s strict separation of actual games from betting, Martin shows how to reverse our plight by taking a much more thoughtful and effective approach to the intersection of the real and expectations markets and to governance in general. His unique game plan for American capitalism to successfully regain lost yardage and attain its powerful maximizing objectives includes:

Restructuring executive compensation to focus entirely on the real market, not the expectations market;

Rethinking board governance, the role of board members and the autonomy of auditors;

Reining in the power of hedge funds and monopoly pension funds;

Five positive steps to heal American capitalism, fix the game, play tough and win in the real world.

Concise, hard-hitting and entertaining, FIXING THE GAME advocates seizing American capitalism from the jaws of the expectations market — and planting it firmly in the real market, telling us exactly how to do it, starting now.


In this primer on the problem-solving power of “integrative thinking,” Martin draws on more than 50 management success stories, including the masterminds behind The Four Seasons, Proctor & Gamble and eBay, to demonstrate how, like the opposable thumb, the “opposable mind” - Martin’s term for the human brain’s ability “to hold two conflicting ideas in constructive tension” - is an intellectually advantageous evolutionary leap through which decision-makers can synthesize “new and superior ideas.” Using this strategy, Martin focuses on what leaders think, rather than what they do. Among anecdotes and examples steering readers to change their thinking about thinking, Martin gives readers specific strategies for understanding their own “personal knowledge system” (by parsing inherent qualities of “stance,” “tools” and “experience”), as well as taking advantage of the “richest source of new insight into a problem,” the “opposing model.” Each of the eight chapters is well organized, making for a clear and cumulative read. Part inspiration, part logic lesson, this title will provide a fresh perspective for anyone prepared to dust off their thinking cap.


The MBA is probably the hottest ticket among current university graduate degree offerings—every year, more than 120,000 students enroll in MBA programs in the United States, and the estimates in Europe do not lag far behind. In addition, job prospects have never looked better for business school graduates; corporations are hiring more business school graduates every year, and compensating them more handsomely.

The Future of the MBA provides a sorely needed detailed and systematic review of the major contemporary debates on management education. At the same time, it makes a striking new proposal that will certainly have an impact in business schools: that managers need to develop a series of qualitative tacit skills which could be appropriately developed by integrative curricula brought from different disciplines, including sociology, philosophy, and other social sciences. Moldoveanu and Martin, both involved in the greatly respected integrative business education program at the Rotheman School of Management, provide a guide on how to design a reliable, integrated program for management students. One of the main assets of the book is that it relies not just on speculative thinking, but on real life experience, including case studies that will appeal to practicing managers. As an authoritative reference on MBA education, it will appeal to faculty and staff of business schools, as well as students in related fields, like education and public policy.


Employing methods and strategies from the design world to approach business challenges, design thinking can be embraced at every level of an organization to help build innovative products and systems and to enhance customer experiences. This collection of articles, from the award-winning Rotman Magazine, will help foster creativity and innovation within any organization.


Are you a heroic leader? Or are you a passive follower? Chances are you act like one or the other, and it’s doing serious damage to your company, your customers, and your colleagues. The reason behind your harmful behavior? The fear that you’ll be held responsible for any failures - which often makes failure the inevitable outcome. Management guru, Roger Martin, calls this fear of failure and the behavior it causes “The Responsibility Virus.” With lively case studies based on real business practices, he shows how the Virus “infects” corporations and non-profit organizations, large and small. No message could be more urgent in today’s business climate. Martin lays out a wholly original way of understanding group dynamics. His impassioned belief in the “power of one” will be required reading for any of us who think about how we function in organizations, from the boardroom to the mail room.


What constitutes successful thinking in business? What are some of the techniques used by top business minds in order to solve problems and create value? Dia-minds breaks new ground in addressing these questions.

Mihnea Moldoveanu and Roger Martin, creators of the Integrative Thinking curriculum at the Rotman School of Management, draw upon case studies and interviews – as well as theories and models from cognitive psychology, epistemology, analytic philosophy, and semiotics – to offer a new conception of successful intelligence that is immediately applicable to business situations. The ‘dia-mind’ (or dialogical mind) is characterized by bi-stability (simultaneously holding opposite plans, models, courses of action in mind while retaining the ability to act), meliorism (increasing the logical depth and informational breadth of one’s thinking processes), choicefulness (retaining the ability to choose among various representations of the world, the self and others) and polyphony (thinking about the way one formulates and solves a problem while at the same time thinking about the problem itself).

End-of-chapter exercises encourage readers to examine and re-engineer their own thoughts and perception patterns to develop these qualities and cultivate their own ‘dia-minds.’


CNNLego boss reads 'The Opposable Mind' - December 8, 2014

The Thinkers 50Named the Third Top Management Thinker in the World, by Stuart Crainer & Des Dearlove - November 11, 2013

Leadership, Innovation and StrategyTop 50 Professors on Twitter - August 6, 2013

ForbesThinking About The 2017 Thinkers50 Gala - November 15, 2017

ForbesThe World's Most Influential Business Thinkers 2017 - November 14, 2017

800 CEO READThe 2017 800-CEO-READ Business Book Awards Longlist - November 7, 2017

HBR JapanManagement - 10 Masters - April 10, 2017

Rise GlobalSustMeme Top 500 - 2016

Strategy + BusinessWhat You Read: The 10 Most Popular s+b Articles of 2015 - December 23, 2015

Thinkers 50Thinkers 50 Social Enterprise Award - November 9, 2015

The New York TimesFeatured in Paralysis Isn’t Inevitable by Joe Nocera - September 26, 2014

FortuneB-school Dean of the Year: Rotman's Roger Martin - December 27, 2013

Poets & Quants2013 Dean Of The Year: Rotman’s Roger Martin - December 27, 2013

therecord.comTownships grow great thinkers - November 18, 2013

Toronto StarToronto duo among world’s top management thinkers - November 13, 2013

Toronto StarMalcolm Gladwell’s high school teacher inspired many other greats - October 29, 2013

Top Business Degrees20 Most Influential Business Professors Alive Today - July 28, 2013

GMGA (Global Management Guru Award)India’s 25 top management gurus - November 2012

Harvard Business ReviewThe Real Reason Baseball Players Make So Much Money “Capital vs. Talent” article as the most important HBR article Malcolm read by Malcolm Gladwell October 24, 2012

Harvard Business ReviewThe Masters of Innovation one of Twelve Masters of Innovation by Scott Anthony March 2012

Harvard Business ReviewHarvard Business Review’s 52nd Annual McKinsey Awards: Second Place Award for Roger Martin – The Age of Customer Capitalism - May 2011

BusinessWeekNamed One of the World’s Most Influential Designers by Helen Walters and Venessa Wong - February 1, 2010

The New York TimesMulticultural Critical Theory. At B-School? by Lane Wallace - January 10, 2010

Powerful Profs Named a “B-School All-Star” as one of the ten most influential business professors in the world - August 22, 2007

Meet the Innovation Gurus: The Academic: Roger Martin Named one of the seven Innovation Gurus in BusinessWeek’s special report: Get Creative - August 21, 2005

The Marshall McLuhan Awards Visionary Leadership Named the winner of the Marshall McLuhan Award (2004) for “Visionary Leadership” in the business category