Wednesday, January 20, 2010

One of many interesting insights from an "in vivo" experiment with the real-life scientific method:

When Dunbar reviewed the transcripts of the meeting, he found that the intellectual mix generated a distinct type of interaction in which the scientists were forced to rely on metaphors and analogies to express themselves. (That’s because, unlike the E. coli group, the second lab lacked a specialized language that everyone could understand.) These abstractions proved essential for problem-solving, as they encouraged the scientists to reconsider their assumptions. Having to explain the problem to someone else forced them to think, if only for a moment, like an intellectual on the margins, filled with self-skepticism.

It is a very difficult task indeed to recognize your own assumptions. That is why systematic methods-metaphors that force you to look at the situation from various perspectives often help us find novel solutions. My own role as a moderator during an ideation session is to shake people out of their normal ways of thinking.

tags: method, metaphor, creativity, example, book, brainstorming, magicians

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