There is a genius in every person – but it is not always easy to get him or her to come out.
Gerald Sindell (2009) in The Genius Machine recommends starting with some key questions.
What do I see? New ideas are the result of perceiving new distinctions.
It sometimes works just to look at the problem from a different perspective. Try it – next time you a problem challenges you, just remind yourself to look at it differently and notice one difference.
Who am I? Why are these ideas important to me and why am I driven to share them with the world? Have I made my identity clear to the audience so they know where I am coming from?
All good things start with knowing who you are.
Where do my ideas lead? If what I am saying is true, then what are all the consequences I can imagine?
By investigating implications, you start looking at interrelationships and start building ways to deal with the problem in multiple ways.
What am I blind to? Have I imagined how my ideas might influence a variety of situations, places, and people? Have I questioned everything about my assumptions? What would prove me wrong? Can I create a model of my work, and find precise analogues.
So try building a model of how it works. It may not be perfect but will get better with more testing.
Who else has seen something like this? By asserting that I have something to say, I am entering into the great conversation of ideas that stretches back through the centuries. We cannot have knowledge of everything that was said before we got around to thinking, but we must try to know important precedent thought in our area.
If this type of problem was solved before, it may be interesting to look at the solution. It may also be important to not do what was done before.
Who needs this knowledge? If what I am saying is so, who would this knowledge be valuable for? This question forces us out of focusing solely in our own area and may lead us to find the universals in our thinking. Understanding who needs us most will also help us in crafting what we say, because we will want to be useful to those who will give what we have to say highest priority.
Understanding the user may also be the key to solving the problem and create a market.
Are there underlying principles? What is the world I’m working in? What are the underlying values expressed here? What are the applicable rules or structure that obtain here? Can I pull these together into a coherent group or body of law?
Existing research may apply and give some perspective. Building up some statistical approaches and models may also help.
Is everything here? If this is valuable for someone, am I giving my audience everything they need for this to be useful? If everything they need is not here, am I including referrals for the other information they will need in order to know enough to take action or teach others?
A solution that does not solve the problem is not a solution. All aspects have to be considered.
Who am I addressing? Do we understand the frame of reference of our audience?
Are we writing for our reader, speaking to our listener, carefully guiding the experience of our user?
Even when the solution exists – it is important to work out the social dynamic of putting the solution to the end user. This may take longer than expected by is the difference between success and failure.
Where do I want to go? In creating this work I have launched an alter ego of myself, which will eventually take on a life of its own. If this development or body of knowledge succeeds in the marketplace of ideas, will it help me fulfil my goals for my life? Are the identities of the creators, the creation, and the users, aligned?
Solutions always have an impact. Is this the impact that you want? Will another solution have a different impact?
Am I supporting the adoption of my ideas? My thinking stands for me. Now, I must stand for what I have created.
Brilliant thinking starts with a problem and ends with a new way to do things. Some of the ideas in this article may help with this thinking process.