Rotman School of Management

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Creative Methodology

Integrative Thinking and Business Design

The Rotman School offers a bold vision for business education that can't be found anywhere else. At Rotman, you will learn to go beyond the functional areas of business to consider the big picture, approaching each challenge with creativity and a willingness to take risks. Our innovative methodology - characterized by Integrative Thinking and Business Design - will allow you to tackle the wicked problems of the modern economy.

Integrative Thinking

By Mihnea Moldoveanu, Associate Dean, Full-Time MBA Program

Success in today’s global business landscape hinges on quickly adapting to volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environments. At the Rotman School, we believe that the explicit and systematic use of models can fundamentally improve your ability to solve complex problems. This is one of the core premises behind Integrative Thinking, the innovative methodology that is helping to transform business education. 

Each time you make a decision or try to solve a problem you are using a model: a simplified representation of reality that captures your beliefs about how the world works. At Rotman, we train you to use explicit models to guide your thinking, so you can clearly define and structure problems before attempting to solve them. This enables you to identify the subtle cause-and-effect relationships that often make business challenges intractable. We call this process model-based problem solving. 

At Rotman, you develop a strong foundation in the traditional functional areas of business: strategy, operations, accounting, finance, marketing, human resources and leadership. You also learn to define and approach real-world challenges that do not neatly fit into pre-defined categories or functional disciplines, through the use of models that guide the ways in which you define problems. Integrative Thinking is designed for a world where traditional problem-solving tools are inadequate, the costs of failure are high, and your greatest source of advantage is the ability to act with insight and decisiveness in the face of uncertainty.

Integrative Thinking in Action

Rotman School, University of Toronto, Canada



A Real-World Challenge

The Integrative Thinking Capstone Course allows you to tackle a real-world business problem and discover insights in big data. By the end of the course, you have the opportunity to present your strategy directly to the companies’ executives.


Students Sitting at Table



The Integrative Thinking Program

Offered in Toronto, Canada and London, UK, this open-enrolment program is offered by Rotman Executive Programs. The popular initiative provides leaders with new approaches and new tools to creatively address organizational challenges.


Students Presenting in Class



Leadership and You

The Self-Development Lab (SDL) helps Rotman MBA students gain the self-awareness and problem-solving abilities they need to tackle interpersonal challenges in the workplace and beyond. 


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Building a Foundation

A collaboration between Rotman and the Toronto District School Board, the I-Think Initiative gives students tools to observe, evaluate and improve their thinking processes when faced with difficult ‘either-or’ choices. 


Business Design

Creative problem solving doesn't just involve only modelling and data analysis – it also has a strong interpretive, empathetic, and aesthetic component. Play – broadly conceived – is an integral part of the manager’s problem solving toolkit. Rotman’s Business Design initiatives give you hands-on experience in the real-time exercise of empathetic listening, creative generation of ideas and solutions, and the playful interweaving of analysis and intuition, through unique elective courses, skills development workshops, and special design projects.

Business Design in Action

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Strategy and Innovation

DesignWorks is the Rotman School’s strategy and innovation lab. Standing at a nexus of academic and commercial learning, DesignWorks collaborates with a network of local and international partners in the areas of education and research.


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Business Design


Hands-On Learning

The Business Design Practicum is a 2nd year elective MBA course structured to provide hands-on learning about Business Design principles, frameworks and methods. 


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Rotman Design


User-Centred Design

The Rotman School invites teams from business and design schools across North America to participate in the annual Rotman Design Challenge. Past challenge sponsors have included the Mayo Clinic, TD Canada Trust, and Target.


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Think Like a Designer

These one-day workshops introduce first-year MBA students to the framework and practice of Business Design framework.


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Business Design


Tackle Real Challenges

Student teams have just days to develop new customer insights, prototype and pitch new solutions for a real-world challenge using the Business Design process.


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A World of Design

These worldwide tours provide students with insight into how Business Design is used to solve complex challenges and unlock innovation in a variety of organizations.


The Rotman MBA and Your Career - A New Way to Think

Business is Changing. Are you Ready?

Integrative Thinking - A New Way to Think

The Rotman School's innovative educational platform develops and trains problem solvers to the world.

Rotman Design Challenge 2013

One of the best case competitions: The Rotman Design Challenge

Discover what it’s like when business and design schools from around the world come together to tackle a real-world challenge