“But the brain does much more than just recollect it inter-compares, it synthesizes, it analyzes, it generates abstractions. The simplest thought like the concept of the number one has an elaborate logical underpinning. “
I am constantly trying to communicate something incommunicable, to explain something inexplicable, to tell about something I only feel in my bones and which can only be experienced in those bones.”
This is about ideas and thinking. I am a scribbler. And a sketcher. And a pencil guy. I carry around a stack of index cards & constantly sketch out thoughts for people. My index cards are strewn around the world. I am sure some are used for dart boards, some for a good laugh & some actually was a seed for some idea.
I purposefully used the word “seeds” because I think we would be much better off if we thought of ideas that way. Why? Well. Seeds die or remain underground or get eaten by some squirrel if it isn’t protected, nurtured, watered and pampered in some way to insure it flourishes.
And while there are gobs of articles highlighting ideation process and such , to me, all that matters is an idea doesn’t die with poor articulation. A good idea poorly presented dies. Even great ideas poorly articulated die.
A shitload of people will want to talk about PowerPoint & presenting & a whole bunch of shit that just gets in the way. Those are simply ways to do it. What matters is how you do it.
Which leads me to the Feynman technique. It is essentially explaining a concept or idea to yourself, on a piece of paper, as if you were teaching it to someone else with little background knowledge. This is all about it’s all making sure you understand it and can you explain it if not simply simple enough to be understood.
I had no clue who Feynman was when I start taking out a piece of paper to find out if what I was thinking made sense on paper. Over time I have found an index card does it for me. it forces the constraint I need to either, well, get it or not get it. If I can’t articulate my idea or thought on an index card I mentally decide it isn’t worth a shit as an idea. Ok. Maybe it is but I know I haven’t figured out a way to articulate it so that it will not die.
I am not suggesting I am a great idea person or thinker but I am suggesting creating a process to elevate all people’s thinking does not necessarily benefit the smaller group of people who are actually good at thinking & creating ideas. What I mean by that is with the intent to create a better thinking organization we tend to want to throw everyone into the same bucket <I guess we do that to encourage inclusiveness & ‘fairness’>. Unfortunately this means your best of the best get pulled out of what may make them the best & force them into the “unwashed masses” <I am kidding on that phrase but you get the point>.
We should always be thinking two parallel paths. One to elevate the majority and one to empower the minority.
Why? To protect ideas.
Minds work in a variety of ways. It seems to me that organizations should think less about organizing minds but rather freeing minds. If you have someone like me, buy me a stack of index cards & have someone riffle through tem on occasion to see if there is a seed somewhere.
I will say that when I was running a small company I would pin them up on a conference room wall and during meetings anyone at any time could pull it off the wall and say “WTF you thinking?” or “I want to talk about this.”
I learned to articulate better as well as get less defensive about ideas.
The employees learned to articulate better and come up with their own ideas in their own ways. By not having an organizational process but sharing my personal process we ended up having a process.
My point is ideas are seeds. Some don’t deserve to grow & flourish but some do & we should be learning to articulate ideas better to save those seeds.