If you have always thought in the same way as you did before, you would probably end up with the same or similar set of solutions. Digging deep on the same surface to mine gold may not be a useful strategy when there are chances of finding gold around different locations if you dare to look and examine.
Most of the time, people are complacent to move away from the established norms and standards. Yet, this strategy is very weak to produce new ideas, models, concepts that may actually help us move forward. This default method can be regarded as analyzing the current problem deeply with the given tools without ever considering designing new models. This second method --designing new models-- necessarily requires abandoning the rusty, old-style thinking, which we name logical, mathematical thinking. In the logical, mathematical thinking, you follow certain steps sequentially to be able to reach solutions. However, the uncertainties in life is so paramount that there is little probability that known methods even can yield feasible solutions!
In the age of dynamic uncertainty, new thinking, design thinking
needs to be taught and used. We have to think about how we can design an idea, model, concept, tool, technique from scratch. We need to begin with clean slate. Design thinking can be the most critical survival skill anybody needs in the new millennium. Noone is immune to the abrupt changes. It becomes very difficult to foresee the upcoming changes. We live in world of funk according to two Swedish academic-turned-to-be-gurus, --Dr Ridderstrale and Dr Nordstrom--. Their interesting book --Funky Business
-- is an innovative approach to today's battle of brains. I will talk about their arguments in the book in future essays. In short, I claim that learning to think as if you are designing is a necessary skill to become successful in this funky world.
This skill can be taught by using different methods. One significant method area comes from lateral thinking. Dr Edward de Bono coined the term --lateral thinking--in the late 60s and right now this term became a part of the cognition/thinking jargon. Instead of thinking vertically, i.e., deeply on one approach, we need to move horizontally across patterns of the brain. This is the main idea behind lateral thinking.
The brain, described as a self-organizing and maximizing system, works according to previously established patterns. However, these patterns may not always result in creative, let alone useful solutions in this changing world. So, what is required is to leave the patterns in different positions and locations in order to jump towards other irrelevant patterns. These so-called irrelevant patterns may prove to be very useful as they allow us to make connections across unrelated concepts, ideas, models. For example, random word method is highly effective to break away the pattern and jump to other patterns, thereby forming connections. Once we force our brains to connect unrelated ideas, concepts, with a trigger of certain words, surprisingly connections appear in subtle and innovative ways.
While using such random words, we may also enter a pattern from a totally different location as opposed to the usual entry point. This entrance may lead us towards an insightful solution. Because, self-organized patterns may have different directions for idea flows depending on the specific entry location. Hence, we may understand a complicated phenomenon by creating an unusual, counter-intuitive insight, just by entering through a different location. This entrance cannot be left to happen by itself. It can be done deliberately. So, random word entry is just one of accomplishing this task. And we see that, these cretive insights usually occur when the brain is in a relaxed condition or performing completely different tasks. This sudden phenomenon is also called the "Aha Effect". There is in fact a close connection between "Ha-Ha" and "AHa" effects. This brings the importance of humour and jokes that always breaks established patterns and moves along different directions and connects the unrelated. Maybe we need to design our teaching of subjects using humour more extensively and strategically. As the story goes: Archimedes has obtained his great insight on the floating of matter while he was taking bath in a bathhouse (Turkish hamam). His Aha moment occurred all of a sudden at that point that made him shout "Eureka!" and causing him to leave the bathhouse naked. Isaac Newton grasped the essence of gravity by feeling an apple on his head.
If these great thinkers of their time did not form any thinking patterns beforehand for their topics of study, by logical/mathematical thinking, they would never get the insights. "Favor always favors the prepared mind," is a true statement by Pasteur. In that sense, lateral thinking needs to be coupled with logical/mathematical thinking while attacking a problem or designing creative ideas, concepts, methods. Both are necessary by themselves, yet not sufficient unless they are used together in the thinking process.
We owe gratitude to Dr Edward de Bono for his ground-breaking research and books on lateral thinking and creativity. For further information, please visit his official site
I welcome your comments on how to approach thinking for the new millennium...