I am being bombarded by information and initiatives that relate to thinking from all directions. I thought it would be interesting to list the main ones and try and identify the many different perspectives.
Structure and rigour. It all started with David Pollard’s structured problem solving process, which although not a perfect fit for me was an interesting insight into how formal and rigorous the process could be.
Quick and intuitive. Then I read reviews of books that discussed rapid decision making, I have not explored them further but they support my gut feeling that my intuition is a valuable skill that I should nurture. I don’t have a very good memory for facts, but am good at remembering relationships. I have specifically avoided learning memory improvement techniques because I worry that whilst I will be better at remembering names my intuition and innovation will suffer.
Innovation. I came across a blog entry on types of innovation, quickly followed by one of my colleagues sending me a presentation, which led to me exploring innovation processes, in particular TRIZ and some of the tools that support it.
Mind maps. I then had the opportunity to use Mind Maps to help me brainstorm and structure the early lifecycle phase of a project, and interesting this linked me back to using TRIZ with Mind Maps, and David Pollard and his experiments with Mind Maps.
Blogs. I have always thought that blogs are a great way to help provide other people to get an insight into your thinking processes, so I liked the fact that a few people were discussing them for use in that way. Probably the best of example of this in action is the way that Kim Cameron developed his Laws of Identity. This page documents the laws and links to the blog sections that helped to evolve each law.
Intelligence and thinking. Then I got a nasty shock whilst reading The happiness Purpose, where de Bono shows how intelligent people may not actually be very good thinkers because they tend to rapidly come to a conclusion and then use their intelligence to defend it. Now my IQ is only 135 so I may not fall into that trap, but it’s worth watching out for and certainly worth making sure I follow a process, this blog entry shows there are quite a few processes to choose from.
Perspectives. Then in discussions at work around architecture I found myself amazed that I needed to defend the concept of having different people in the team to represent different perspectives of the solution, eg usability and supportability. This got be thinking about the whole topic of taking different perspectives when thinking about a problem which led me to The Six Thinking Hats, which I was surprised to find my kids had been taught at school. This led me to de Bono’s other book on Lateral Thinking
Happiness. I am undertaking a mini study on happiness, this study so far has taught me one major lesson, happiness depends more on the way you think than any other factor. If you look for things that are wrong, compare yourself to others and see success in terms of material things rather than experiences then you are going down the wrong road. I have a category of my blog on this topic.
Concepts. Last month I needed to understand a whole new subject area, Web Services and Service Oriented Architecture, so I decided to map the relationships of the WS* specifications using a concept map, here is an example. This helped tremendously.
Communication. Then one of my friends pointed me to a web site called beyond bullets all about the challenges of communications with presentations, in particular PowerPoint, now this site promotes the idea of story telling, I happen to think mind maps and concept maps have their place as well, but its worth a read.
Horizon. Finally last week I watched a disturbing episode of Horizon on cold fusion. In this episode it became clear to me the terror that must be felt by any scientist with a new idea that challenges mainstream thinking in an area of science where funding and ego are issues. The ferocity with which work, which may actually represent significant process, was torn to shreds by those with vested interests, eg funding or ego, was staggering. It was clear that such reactions stifle creativity, what happened to the idea of “not fearing failure”, and “treating failure as a learning opportunity”, certainly not a philosophy shared by scientific researchers!