Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Building good inventor habits

NYT quotes a chapter from a book on how to be an effective CEO, which quotes "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People", by Stephen Covey:

- Habit 1: Be proactive.
- Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind.
- Habit 3: Put first things first.
- Habit 4: Think win/win.
- Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
- Habit 6: Synergize.
- Habit 7: Sharpen the saw. ( work on personal growth in multiple dimensions).

Not surprisingly, Inventor's habits develop along similar lines. For example, habit 1 is built into the Reverse Brainstorming technique. It allows us to anticipate rather than react to problems. Habit 2 is represented in the Ideality Principle. You find your best solutions after you formulate the ideal solution. Habit 3 - grouping and prioritization during the second stage of Reverse Brainstorming. Habit 5 - The Three Magicians and Five Elements Analysis. A good solution comes out of a thorough understanding of all aspects of the problem. Habits 4 and 6 - System thinking. All elements of the system have to work together to achieve the outcome. Problems arise when interfaces break. Habit 7 - Inventor must work on developing imagination skills that don't necessarily relate to the narrow field of his/her expertise. It is also useful to cultivate what in Buddhism is called "The Beginner's Mind".

Of course, there are differences in habits. Executives often have to make quick decisions. Inventors must have time to think. As G.S.Altshuller used to say, "Inventive thinking is slow thinking." Good solutions come out of what David Kahneman calls System 2, "which is the reasoning system. It’s conscious, it’s deliberate; it’s slower, serial, effortful, and deliberately controlled, but it can follow rules." Developing this system takes time and effort.

No comments: