Tuesday, September 6, 2011

i-TFTD #338: On Thinking Clearly

#338-1. The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.
-Bertrand Russell, philosopher, mathematician, author, Nobel laureate (1872-1970)

#338-2. Clear thinking requires courage rather than intelligence.
-Thomas Szasz, author, professor of psychiatry (1920-)

#338-3. Our heads are round so that thoughts can change direction.
-Francis Picabia, painter and poet (1879-1953)
One reason we get stuck when trying to find solutions is that we accept the problem description or question as stated originally. Redefining the problem is a powerful step in innovation. One has to cultivate the habit of creating many versions of a statement. If we ponder over, “What deterrent will make people be more careful and avoid mistakes in this process?” it leads to a set of solutions, which are very different from those that occur when we ask, “How can this process be designed and communicated that enables people to correctly execute this process?” The latter leads to the mindset behind poka yoke.

Think of someone who you believe is an excellent communicator and the odds are that the person has clarity of thought and the boldness to express it. It is difficult to think clearly in the age of abundant information and access to opinions. More than being ‘brainy’ it demands confidence to accept our own thoughts and feelings, especially when dealing with personal problems.

Some people who have the habit of saying, “I am very clear!” use it as a shield to prevent further probing of their thoughts or exploring other ideas. Real clarity is to focus on the objective and relentlessly pursue it even it means reversing our stand or revising our thoughts.

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