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The Genius Problem-Solving Method Elon Musk Learned From Aristotle

https://www.inc.com/david-straus/the-genius-problem-solving-method-elon-musk-learne.html

inc.com

The Genius Problem-Solving Method Elon Musk Learned From Aristotle
Obviously, I have never met Aristotle or Da Vinci; for that matter, I have not yet had the pleasure of speaking with Elon Musk. Still, let's imagine that I can understand how they think, and that you can as well--and by embracing First Principle thinking, you can empower yourself to become a true visionary in life, at work, and for your community.

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First Principle Thinking In Practice

The CEO might re-envision the way his company tackles development, by bringing in other departments that don't normally get to participate in this work, and creating incentives for original thinking from anyone in the company.

On a personal level, you may make yourself more open to other people's perspectives and find value on discussions that you may not have previously had. 

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4 Steps For First Principle Thinking

  1. Identify the problem you want to solve.
  2. List all the reasons you can't solve this problem.
  3. List all obvious solutions that apply but don't solve the problem adequately.
  4. Ask yourself: "If I could create a solution based on my desires, what would that solution be?"

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Achieving Groundbreaking Innovation through First Principle Thinking

Achieving Groundbreaking Innovation through First Principle Thinking

It may seem that practicing First Principle Thinking requires more mental energy and intellectual rigor, but it simply requires a different type of thinking and intellectual rigor. 

By definition, true innovation only occurs if we start with the First Principle. To make the leap from the impossible to the possible, we can't just iterate on what already exists.

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First Principle

First Principle

Is a foundational truth that is "known by nature". It is not an assumption or deduction based on another theory or supposition but it’s also not an absolute truth but rather an observed one, meaning further analysis might prove it imprecise.

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"All great Acts of Genius began with the same consideration: Do not be constrained by your present reality."

Leonardo Da Vinci

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Elon Musk

"I tend to approach things from a physics framework. And physics teaches you to reason from first principles ra..."

Elon Musk

The Two Types of Thinking

Comparison thinking: comes up with solutions based on pre-existing ideas. It is the way we normally think but it also limits the solutions to possible permutations of what already exists.

First principles thinking: starts free of preconceptions by studying the fundamentals of something and then working your way to a new thing. This helps you understand complex problems.

First Principles Thinking

First Principles Thinking

Is the act of deconstructing something to the fundamental parts that you know are true and building up from there.

Also called reasoning from first principles, it effectively he...

Elon Musk

Elon Musk

“Physics teaches you to reason from first principles rather than by analogy. So I said, okay, let’s look at the first principles. What is a rocket made of? Aerospace-grade aluminum alloys, plus some titanium, copper, and carbon fiber. Then I asked, what is the value of those materials on the commodity market? It turned out that the materials cost of a rocket was around two percent of the typical price.”

One Method, Different Solutions

Different solutions present themselves at different layers of abstraction. Depending on how deep and thorough is your breakdown of the situation, putting them all back together may yield different solutions. 

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Using Decision Trees

  • Understand the different outcomes that could happen (both positive and negative)
  • Calculate the expected return or loss of each outcome
  • Attach a probability to each outcome
  • ...

Use Decision Trees 

Elon Musk uses decision trees to make big decisions (a tool that uses a tree-like graph or model of decisions and their possible consequences, outcomes, and resources). They are particularly useful for avoiding stupid risks and big bets that aren’t likely to succeed.

Most became a billionaire by making unlikely big bets, as their expected return statistically was much higher than safer bets.

Build Deep, Long-Term Relationships

One of the best ways to get information is not from just being better at searching Google, it’s from learning how to build a network and get the information you need through that network. 

This network should include people’s lessons learned and hacks, topics that are too sensitive to talk about because they make someone look bad, and tacit knowledge (knowledge that people have but aren’t able to articulate).