Seeing the bigger picture…multi-dimensionally

Since engaging in exploring ways to introduce different ways of thinking into the Sauder curriculum, I have struggled with terminology.  I realize that I am not alone in this struggle.  The various LinkedIn groups around design thinking have regular discussions about definitions and labels.

So it was with great interest that I read a “Comment” column in last weekend’s Financial Times by Gillian Tett about the adoption of “multi-dimensional” thinking.

She related two stories that aligned in their message.  The first was about Goldman Sachs who have asked Gerald Corrigan (former NY Fed governor and now advisor at the bank) to create “a plan to reorient the bank’s business and culture”.   He has outlined 39 steps to self-improvement for the bankers at Goldman.  According to Tett,  Corrigan is not “merely trying to change what bankers do: but how they think.”

Bankers have traditionally had a one-track mind around the bottom line.  Mr. Corrigan wants them to live in a multi-dimenional, not one-dimensional world.   Tett was tempted to dismiss this as a bunch of rhetoric.

Until she found herself a few hours later at a dinner part hosted by George Soros where she found the same theme being discussed around the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia — mistakes made by western armies again operating with a one-track mind.  “Various initiatives are now under way to persuade soldiers to adopt a multi-dimensional vision (to teach them not just to fight, but also to build political structures and win support from local people.”

Tetts goes on to talk about the complexity of institutions, the plethora of specialist silos and the increasing need for interconnectedness.

So it is about becoming more multi-dimensional.  Makes sense as a way to describe the type of thinking required to solve the wicked problems that confront us — in business and generally in our lives.

So now I have added multi-dimensional to the existing list of that includes design thinking, systems thinking, holistic thinking, integrated thinking and so on.  I am trying it on for size to see how it resonates.

One response to “Seeing the bigger picture…multi-dimensionally”

  1. Lesley Treleaven

    Multi-dimensional is certainly worth a try! Here in Australia, we certainly need to move away from binary (either/or) thinking as we tackle the immediate results of flood, fire, drought and clyclone and ignore climate change by seeking to fund diaster relief by cutting climate change initiatives.Seeing the bigger picture is one approach being used by GetUp a lobby group in its latest grassroots campaign for political action regarding climate change. see

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