Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Been Thinking About That Project

I've found that there can be a real mismatch when communicating with people about projects.

A lot depends on perspective, sure. Everyone brings their own history and goals to a project.

But it's usually deeper and a lot harder than that. Here's the deal as I've seen it: very few people think analytically.

So whoop de do. What does that mean, sport?

It means being able to stand back from the things that are bumping up and hitting you in the face right now and seeing the whole situation. Sort of.

Really, what's important is to see the situation behind the situation. Or put another way, to be able to turn on your x-ray vision and see causes and effects beneath all the flapping and whizzing on the surface.

So in a way it's the ability to ignore the obvious and pay attention to what's important.

That's hard.

It takes practice. It takes training. It takes a certain innate attitude. It requires restraint. And detachment.

You have to question everything you see and second guess yourself, but it isn't random thrashing around.

Why not?

Because whenever you think you have an answer you need to review your thoughts, perform a test, do a sanity check. Question your motives. Compare notes. That's the second guessing part.

It really isn't guessing at all.

Guessing comes up front. Call it brainstorming.

You throw random ideas into a hat. Until you get tired, or until they stop showing up. Then you let things settle. See what else pops up. If anything. If something does, grab it too.

Then you take your bag of things and look at them. See if they make sense. See if they fit a pattern. See if they represent something.

That's where it starts to get hard.

If you're good, and honest, and manage to keep your mind under control, you see a pattern. Or not.

Plan A: Things belong together. Or seem to. Arrange them and see. Then look for gaps to fill. Throw out the crazy stuff. Make it all tidy. OK, good.

Plan B: Nothing fits. Either you have random stuff or you aren't thinking clearly. Or you don't see a pattern, but you see where a pattern could go - where it would be if you had the right parts to make it. That's creativity at work. That's abstract thinking.

It's like inventing new worlds. Or seeing what hasn't been seen yet.

And it depends on analytical thinking, because analytical thinking tells you if it makes sense. If things seem to fit, sort of, roughly, but fight too much, you need more work. Do some fine tuning. Smooth the edges. Improve your thinking. Improve the fit.

That's good too, but there is more.

See, if you do this enough times then you start to see patterns behind the patterns. You get really abstract. You figure out not only how to solve today's problem but all problems like it. Whenever, wherever they show up. Crack the code for one and you can deal with them all.

Without getting lost in the details. It's learning to see what is important - the foundation - and building on that.

That produces good solutions that last.

It takes practice, and discipline, and integrity, and sometimes it's a hard concept to convey when you're talking to someone stuck on finding the right shade of blue when when maybe the point is deciding what the message should be.

Think about it.

From Buznutt

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