Sunday, September 30, 2007

Taming the Traps of Traditional Thinking

Nice article: Mind of the Innovator: Taming the Traps of Traditional Thinking. It talks about the "seven sins of solutions" & how to tame them.

This is tragic & very true. We all see this:

IDEA loops. IDEA is an acronym for Investigate, Design, Execute, Adjust. it’s a codification of the human learning cycle...the one that starts disappearing around age 5, once we enter the formal school system. that’s when it becomes about the right answer and not the right question.

I have been fortunate in that I have been affected by this less than most. Some of it is personality type, most of it is probably due to really good parents who encouraged me to try things and not be afraid to fail.

We need to stop thinking about innovation as an outcome, and start thinking about innovation as a process. we need to move from innovations to innovation. Because as a practical matter, innovation, problem-solving and learning employ the same iterative process—blending supposition, logic, creativity and reflection

Experiments show that creative revelations come when the mind is engaged in an activity unrelated to the issue being addressed, and that pressure is not conducive to creative thought. recent research demonstrates that the ultimate break—sleep—actually changes our mind’s perspective.

There are pros and cons to being a light sleeper (me). I sleep 6 hours a night unless I'm exhausted. I personally need to be more disciplined in turning things off. Most of the time, software related "work" doesn't seem like work to me because I genuinely enjoy it.

There is this too: Enter the irrational fear of failure. Backing off is counterintuitive. it somehow feels wrong, like preemptive surrender. it’s scary to ease up, because we may lose our steam, or we may abandon hope. we get anxious when the answers aren’t so forthcoming, and we begin to doubt our creativity, abilities and intelligence, fearing that if we take our eye off the problem even for a moment, we may lose the energy we’ve invested.

I definitely have the fear of losing steam - I'm generally not afraid of failure though. I'm a "damn the torpedoes" type. This too has pros and cons.


Sarge said...

Half of the time I solve the problem in the walk across the parking lot to my truck. The other half of the time I solve it in the workout or in the shower the next morning. For me, getting my mind onto something else is a key tool in addressing problems. One of the advantages of letting solutions percolate away from the code is that I can't experiment with any of them so there is no sunk-cost holding me back. Everything is a thought experiment.

Of course, for personnel problems, nothing beats some time with the heavy bag. ;)

fuzzy said...

You have been a very balanced person since I met you 5 years ago. Very disciplined. That is one of the things I admire about you most Sarge.

It is really cool that there is science behind this stuff - with the neurons and what not.

Makes it easier to step away from the keyboard.