Roger L. Martin CM (born 4 August 1956) was Dean at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto from 1998 to 2013 and Institute Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute from 2013 until 2019.
Today Martin is Professor Emeritus at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto, Chair of The Good Jobs Institute and I-Think Initiative, Board Member of The Nine Dots Prize and a trusted strategy advisor to CEOs.
Martin has expanded several important business concepts in use today, including design thinking and integrative thinking. He has been recognised by several business publications as one of the field’s most important thinkers. In 2019, Thinkers50 ranked him the second most influential management thinker in the world. In 2017, he was ranked number one.
Martin began his career at Monitor Group, the global management consulting firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He spent 13 years at Monitor, becoming a director, founding their Canadian office and their educational arm, Monitor University. He served as the co-head of the firm for two years.
Martin was appointed dean of the Rotman School of Management in September 1998. He started his third term as dean in May 2011 but he announced his resignation a year early, to take effect on June 2013.
After he stepped down as dean of Rotman, he took up a leadership position at the Martin Prosperity Institute, where he focused his research on the future of democratic capitalism.
Martin currently serves as Chair of The Good Jobs Institute and the I-Think Initiative, and on the Board of The Nine Dots Prize.
Writing and business experience
Martin has written twenty-eight Harvard Business Review articles.
He has focused much of his recent work and research on integrative thinking, business design and most recently corporate responsibility and more broadly the role of the corporation in our society. He has written twelve books. His newest book is When More is Not Better: Overcoming America’s Obsession with Economic Efficiency (Harvard Business Review Press, 2020). His previous 11 books include: Creating Great Choices written with Jennifer Riel (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); and The Responsibility Virus (Basic Books, 2002).
Martin’s two largest intellectual contributions to the business community have come from his work in integrative thinking and design thinking, both theories that he has helped to originate and develop.
Integrative thinking is the ability to balance two opposing models, and instead of choosing one at the expense of the other, generating a creative solution that contains elements of the individual models, but is superior to each. Martin argues that business leaders that master this mode of thinking have a unique ability to innovate and solve problems facing their company.
Design Thinking balances analytical thinking and intuitive thinking, enabling an organization to both exploit existing knowledge and create new knowledge. A design-thinking organization is capable of effectively advancing knowledge from mystery to heuristic to algorithm. The design-thinking organization is capable of achieving lasting and regenerating competitive advantage.
Both modes of thinking have become more prevalent in the business community in recent years with companies including Procter & Gamble, Four Seasons, and Ford Motor Company incorporating both design and integrative thinking into their business strategies.
In 2004, Martin collaborated with then-Conservative Party leadership candidate Tony Clement on a proposal for a lifetime income tax to reform Canada’s taxation system.
Martin’s most recent work has centered around corporate responsibility and the company’s role within our economic structure. He has argued for an overhaul in how we evaluate the success of companies, advocating a shift in focus from the stock market. He proposes several suggestions including an alteration in the current executive compensation models, and a renewed strategic focus aimed at benefiting customers and the community. In one of his recent books, Fixing the Game, Martin notes that “the problem isn’t that Wall Street broke the rules to their own benefit, it’s that the rules themselves are unhelpful”, and suggests that the best solution is to eliminate short-term stock-based compensation.
In October of 2015, Martin married fellow dual US & Canadian citizen Marie-Louise Skafte. In 2016, Martin was appointed to the Order of Canada as a member. Martin is also a long time fan of the New England Patriots football team.