[Originally posted at brendamichelson.com in May 2017. Moved here 12.23.2020.] I think best with a marker in my hand. Always have. My workspace, and all paths to and from it, are littered with box and line diagrams, doodles, code snippets, and my (at that moment) best idea ever, on any scrap of paper, notebook or […]
I recently unearthed my (real world) drawing pencils and purchased a pixel point stylus to add more illustration to my public works. If you’ve worked with me, you know that drawing — on a whiteboard, legal pad, printer paper, using Visio, wherever — is a huge part of my process. Drawing helps me understand new ideas, think […]
Connective thinking ability cited as key trait in newly published Isaac Asimov essay on Creativity: But what if the same earth-shaking idea occurred to two men, simultaneously and independently? Perhaps, the common factors involved would be illuminating. Consider the theory of evolution by natural selection, independently created by Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace. There is […]
I’ve often said the future belongs to the dot-connectors. Webber’s Rule of Thumb #7, the System is the Solution, describes it perfectly:
My point is that embedded in every company, in every organization, is a system. When you see the system and not just the individual pieces you increase your chances of winning.
Most people look at a company and see the organization chart. Or the pyramid of functions. Or the products and services the company offers as output.
Systems thinkers see the relationships, not the functions. They see the processes, not the stand-alone components or the final products. It’s the difference between looking at a fence and noticing the barbed wire running horizontally rather than the fence posts standing vertically.
Sometimes it helps to do something as simple as drawing a picture with arrows to show what would otherwise be invisible connections. A drawing of a three-legged stool isn’t a sophisticated operations chart, but it makes the point about how magazines need to operate as a system.
Systems thinking can also help when you’re trying to solve a perplexing problem. If you want to untangle the clues as to how something went wrong, think like a detective: figure out who all the players are and how they relate to each other. Usually it’s the system, not one person or department, that explains the real cause of the problem.
One thing is sure: the future belongs to systems thinkers.
For extra credit, see Rule #10 A Good Question Beats a Good Answer:
Why do questions matter more than answers? If you don’t ask the right question, it doesn’t matter what your answer is. And if you do ask the right question, no matter what your answer, you will learn something of value.
Questions are how we learn. Which means questions are how we create change…
Source: Webber, Alan M. (2009-04-10). Rules of Thumb (p. 32). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
From the fantastic Brain Pickings:
“Dubbed Prospero’s Precepts, these eleven rules culled from some of history’s greatest minds can serve as a general-purpose guideline for critical thinking in all matters of doubt:
- All beliefs in whatever realm are theories at some level. (Stephen Schneider)
- Do not condemn the judgment of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong. (Dandemis)
- Read not to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and discourse; but to weigh and consider. (Francis Bacon)
- Never fall in love with your hypothesis. (Peter Medawar)
- It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts. (Arthur Conan Doyle)
- A theory should not attempt to explain all the facts, because some of the facts are wrong. (Francis Crick)
- The thing that doesn’t fit is the thing that is most interesting. (Richard Feynman)
- To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact. (Charles Darwin)
- It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so. (Mark Twain)
- Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong. (Thomas Jefferson)
- All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed, second, it is violently opposed, and third, it is accepted as self-evident. (Arthur Schopenhauer)”