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Problem Solving

93 STASHED IDEAS

Networked thinking

This is an explorative approach to problem-solving, whose aim is to consider the complex interactions between nodes and connections in a given problem space.

Instead of considering a particular problem in isolation to discover a pre-existing solution, networked thinking encourages non-linear, second-order reflection in order to let a new idea emerge.

Thinking in networks can be done at an individual level, but the power of networked thinking becomes apparent in a collaborative setting.

Antonio V. (@antoniov502) - Profile Photo

@antoniov502

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Problem Solving

Marcelo Gleiser

“Asking who is right misses the point, although surely the person using tools can see further into the nature of things. Indeed, to see more clearly what makes up the world and, in the process to make more sense of it and ourselves is the main motivation to push the boundaries of knowledge.”

  • Networked thinking is based on two key principles: divergence and emergence. 
  • Starting from any relevant node in the network, the divergent phase consists in branching out from that original point in many directions, without trying to evaluate the validity of any particular idea.
  • When enough nodes are added to the network, patterns start to emerge. It may be specific clusters, or strong ties between particular nodes.
  • Divergence and emergence allow networked thinkers to uncover non-obvious interconnections and explore second-order consequences of seemingly isolated phenomena.

The world is full of mystery and wonder, but closed minds cannot fathom that their worldview and presumptions can be re-examined by inquisitive minds.

If they reflect upon the same, they might begin to realize that such inquiries are simply the product of fresh thinking and need to be seen with tolerance.

Good Questions Bad Questions

Children are naturally inquisitive, but as they turn into adults, the frequency of asking questions slowly diminishes. They crystallize their understanding of the world and let things be as they are, not disturbing the status quo.

The lost art of asking good, challenging questions is essential in this world. Some questions are innocuous and simple, but there are other types of queries asked by curious minds which may not be appropriate to many people.

Asking fresh questions is essential to critical thinking, and for solving problems that appear unsolvable to rigid minds.

Thinking outside the box, a well-known cliché involves asking uncomfortable or unheard of questions that may sound ridiculous to some.

Mapping Efficiency Frontiers

Taking efficiency further, one can consider lots of designs. By putting them all on a graph, we can notice that the ones inside of the frontier are inefficient choices.

Efficient frontiers will show a general pattern.

  • Below the frontier, you can always improve by optimizing your choice.
  • When you're on the frontier, you can only improve by intentionally making something else worse.

When you put all the possible working schedules, habits and systems on a graph, the graph will show all your productive possibilities.

  • If we're below the frontier, we can make more improvements without facing trade-offs. We might choose to work less while keeping our workload constant.
  • On the frontier, we can only improve by accepting trade-offs. Choosing an ambitious career move may make us work nights and weekends.

The frontier is always a bit deceptive. Finding a new technique can suddenly let you get much more done in less time. The frontier can shift.

Guidelines to know if you are on the frontier:

  • You've read and applied a lot of productivity advice.
  • When you look in your schedule, there aren't many things you could easily cut.
  • Making an effort to do more inevitably cause a setback in other areas of life.

The Pareto Efficiency idea refers to situations where you can (or can't) improve something without trade-offs.

For example, consider designing a car where you aim for speed and safety. Pareto efficiency is to find a design that allows you to get more speed or safety without getting less of the other.

Those that are far from the frontier can focus on improving each element. You can improve by reorganizing your work to get more done.

But once you are on the productive frontier, things are different. Improvement comes from making hard choices about trade-offs. Do you want a cleaner house or more time to work on your projects? You may feel guilty for investing more time on one thing while limiting time for something else important. It is best to be intentional about what you really care about and what can be downgraded.

Being creative translates into building something new and valuable from apparently unrelated things. In the context of intelligence, this means making new and unusual connections: pairing input with memories and skills, to come up with a unique solution to a problem.

Another aspect of creativity is applying a new tool/resource to a task.

Because we as humans are able to work together and share knowledge across generations, we can overcome challenges beyond any single individual's ability. This allowed us to shape the planet on our liking.

We also created new problems in the process: tax forms, but also climate change and antibiotic resistance, for example. To solve these, we need to look past short-term survival and think about the distant future.

Gathering materials for later use is connected to an advanced dimension of problem-solving: planning.

Planning means considering activities required for the desired goal and putting them together in a plan. When unexpected conditions and new possibilities arise, they need to be evaluated according to whether they match the plan or not.

  • Building on the basic tools, more complex living creatures have a wider range of problems they can solve: They can memorize different associations, connections, and mechanical moves and stratagems.
  • The more complex the problem, the more tools are needed in combination to solve it. The more tools there are, the more flexibility there is to solve the new challenges.
  • Even for complex problems, each living being's individual situation and circumstances are important.
What Intelligence Is

Intelligence is a mechanism to solve problems (especially the ones related to survival). It includes the ability to gather knowledge, to learn, to be creative, to form strategies, or think critically.

It manifests itself in a huge variety of behaviors.

We can think of intelligence as a flexible set of skills: a toolbox. And the most basic tools in the intelligence toolbox are:

  • The ability to gather information through senses, to navigate and react to the external world in the right way.
  • The ability to save information and to use it
  • The ability to learn.

These tools enable creatures that appear to be stupid to act in surprisingly intelligent ways.

Learning is the process of putting together a sequence of thoughts and actions.

It is a series of repeatable behaviors that can be diversified and adapted.

Information is much more powerful if we can keep it and save it. This is where memory enters.

Memory is the ability to save and recall information so we don't have to go back to square one every time we perceive something as important.

Information is the basis of action for all living things.

Without it, we are not able to control and predict our surroundings, or to react appropriately and flexibly to them.

  • Not all scientists agree on what counts as intelligence.
  • We think of intelligence as a trait (like height or strength) but we find it difficult to define it.

When the mind is only working in a linguistic mode, doodling provides a visual medium to support mind processing, providing it with neurological access.

The natural doodles that we can indulge to enhance our visual language:

  1. Atomization: drawing the word and its elements.
  2. Game-storming: Fusing two random drawings together.
  3. Process map: Make a flowchart or visual diagram to illustrate a process or sequence.
Doodling And Creativity

A number of studies and extensive research point out that doodling, that is scribbling or drawing in a seemingly distracted manner, is actually great for information retention in the mind and fostering of creativity.

Doodling sets the mind up for greater, more expansive creativity and gets the neurons to fire. It frees up memory and increases the attention span.

  • Any lesson or presentation (just like those school classes when doodling was a sin!) is a great time to doodle.
  • Any place is a great place to doodle, be it a whiteboard, a notepad, or even on our hands.
  • Our drawing ability, handwriting, or the quality of our ‘art’ is not a consideration, as doodling will help the mind work better in any case.

While we listen to people talk, taking notes interferes with our understanding, but if abstract visual doodles are created, the words turn into images and the brain gets visual support for the audio information.

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