Friday, July 12, 2013

Critical Thinking and Structured Writing Course

Edward De’Bono says, ‘Analysis, judgement and argument are not enough. Critical destruction has never produced a better one. It is creativity that produces the better hypotheses. Exlectics seek to lead out or pull-out of the situation, what is of value –no matter on which side it is to be found. With exlectics emphasis would be on ‘designing forward’ rather than on judgement at each stage. It is a revealing fact that even today, no McKinsey’ report goes out without being structured through the ‘Pyramid Principle’ of Barbara Minto.

 MECE way! - The Barbara Minto’s Pyramid Principal book talks about MECE and other models.
Minto worked with McKinsey as a Consultant and was the first woman employee sponsored by McKinsey for Harvard Education! All McKinsey reports invariable follow the Pyramid Principle and MECE concepts!
A central tenet of analytical problem solving is your considering all the possible solutions to your problem exactly once; that is, your approach must be mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive (sometimes written as “mutually exclusive and completely exhaustive”)—or MECE (pronounced “me see”).
MECE thinking is very popular with strategy consultancies, including the McKinsey, Bain, and BCG of the world. In fact the case interview that these companies filter their applicants which is designed to test whether you can think in a MECE-way. It is understandable: MECE thinking is both efficient and elegant; so let’s look at what it means and how you become an effective MECE thinker.

Mutually exclusive (ME) means “no overlaps.”
Two sets of elements are mutually exclusive when they don’t intersect: you cannot have an element belonging to both sets at the same time.

When you are mutually exclusive in your approach, you consider each potential solution only once, hereby ensuring that you do not duplicate efforts. (In the tile roof of the image above, that means that you don’t have several tiles stacked up to cover the same spot.)

Mutually exclusive thinking forces you to consider the details, seeing the individual tree as opposed to the forest. It helps you ensure that each element is different than the others.
So if your key question is “How can I go from New York City to London?” and you reply by first dividing means of transportation between “flying” and “travelling by sea”, you are organizing the possible solutions to your problem in a mutually exclusive way (since if you’re flying you are not travelling by sea at the same time).
Collectively exhaustive (CE) means “no gap”

Groups of solutions are collectively exhaustive when, in between them, they include all the possible answers to your problem.

When your analysis is collectively exhaustive, it includes all possible solutions at least once. (In the tile roof of the image above, that means that you’ve covered the entire area, with one or several layers of tiles, leaving no gaps.)

Collectively exhaustive thinking helps you ensure that you do not forget possible solutions; that is, you must be innovative, viewing the forest as opposed to its individual trees.

Thinking in a collectively exhaustive fashion when you’re considering ways of going from NYC to London means that by considering air- and sea-transportation, you have found a complete set of answers to your problem (since there are no land connections between the US and the UK, so you cannot travel by land, and teletransportation still doesn’t exist).

Being MECE will drastically improve your thinking.
MECE thinking is perhaps the most important concept in analytical problem solving. The concept is simple to understand but it can be challenging to apply in some fields. That’s because we’re usually better at either considering minute details or the big picture but not both, let alone at the same time. Becoming a strong MECE thinker takes training and you should make it a habit to think in MECE ways.

Making it a habit means that, each time you are confronting a new problem, you need to actively look for a MECE way to break it down in its root causes and/or solve it. All your issues trees have to be MECE.

In day-to-day life, you can also train yourself to be better at thinking in a mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive way: each time you’re looking at a series of items, ask yourself if they are MECE. Whenever you see or hear a list of things—listening to the latest tirade of your favourite politician or the verbose argument of a close friend—ask yourself if it is indeed MECE. Become obsessive about it. If you start waking up in the middle of the night yelling “This is not MECE!”, then you’re on the right track…

Thinking course by Edward DeBono-

The quickest and the most reliable way to be rewarded for intelligence is to prove someone else wrong. Such a strategy gives you an immediate result and also establishes your superiority. Being constructive is much less rewarding. It may take years to show that a new idea works. Further more you have to depend on the listener liking your idea. So it is obvious that being critical and destructive is much more appealing use of intelligence.
This is made even worse by the absurd western notion that ‘critical thinking’ is enough. Analysis, judgement and argument are not enough. Critical destruction has never produced a better one. It is creativity that produces the better hypothesis. Perception is how we look at the world.
Professor David Perkins at Harvard has shown that almost all the errors of thinking are errors of perception.
In real life logical errors are quite rare. Yet we persist in believing that thinking is all a matter of avoiding logical errors.
If your perception is limited then flawless logic will give you an incorrect answer.

Perception works as a ‘self-organising information system.’ 
The tool method is much easier and more effective than other methods of teaching.

Teaching people to avoid mistake is very limited. You could avoid all mistakes in driving by leaving the car in the garage.

The PMI tool-

Exhorting people to take a balanced view is not very effective.
P stands for Plus or the good points
M stands for Minus or the bad points
I stands for Interesting or the interesting points.

PMI is an attention directing tool.
PMI is the first of CORT lessons. CORT stands for Cognitive Research Trust.
The PMI sets the mood of objectivity and scanning. The ‘I’ encourages the deliberate habit of exploring the matter outside the judgement framework. Another aspect of ‘I’ is to see if the idea leads to another idea. I trains the mind to react to the interest inherent in a idea and not just to judgement things about the idea. A thinker should be able to say: ‘I do not like your idea but there are these interesting aspects to it..’.
As a habit of mind the PMI is specifically designed to force us to scan in those situations where otherwise, we should deem scanning unnecessary.
The PMI is useful because it is more oblique than direct disagreement or confrontation.

The APC tool-

A stands for Alternatives
P stands for Possibilities
C stands for Choices
Contentment with an adequate solution or approach is the biggest block there is to any search for a better alternative.
Proof may be no more than lack of imagination.

Through APC anything can be simplified or made more effective or productive.
1. Do an APC (review style) on the packaging of chocolate bars
2. Do an APC on the design of a telephone
I am told that there is an old Jewish saying which states that if there are two courses of action, you should always take the third.
Sir Robert Watson-Watt, the father of radar, had a saying, you get an idea today, you get a better idea tomorrow, and you get the best idea never.
There is a need of practical cut-offs and deadlines and the freezing of designs.
But is you never generate alternatives you never have a choice.
Generating alternatives opens up possibilities.
We need it even more because the patterning nature of the mind seeks certainty-not alternatives.
What is the main purpose of thinking? The main purpose of thinking is to abolish thinking.
--Lumpers are those people who tend to group thinking together by focusing on common features.
--Splitters are those people who tend to separate thinking out by focusing on points of difference.

Edward De Bono first brought the term Lateral Thinking during an interview in 1967.
Lateral thinking is both an attitude of mind and also a number of defined methods. 
The attitude of mind involves the willingness to try to look at things in different ways. It involves the appreciation that any way of looking at things is only one amongst many possible ways.

General use of lateral thinking-

The three methods: ‘stepping stone’, ‘escape’ and ‘random stimulation’.
Stepping stone method-for its movement value instead of its judgement value.
Escape method-willing to improve them or escape from them.
Random simulation method- we open ourselves to influences other than those we directly look for.
Two other tools, CAF (consider all factors) and C&S (consequences and sequel). These tools were designed to counter the tendency for thinking to be ego-centric and very short-term.
In doing CAF, emphasis is on ‘what has been left out?’ and ‘what ought to be considered?’
Thinking is almost always short-term because the attraction or repulsion of a course of action is immediate.

Dense reading and dense listening-

Very few people are good listeners. A good listener listens slowly to what is being said. He does not jump ahead nor does he rush to judge nor does he sit there formulating his reply. He focuses directly on what is being said. He listens to more than being said. He extracts the maximum information from what hears by looking in between the words used and wondering why something has been expressed in a particular
 way. Dense reading is like dense listening. Dense reading involves a lot of thinking.
Questions fall into two categories-Shooting question (SQ) in which we know what we are aiming to get, yes or no, etc. Fishing question (FQ) we dangle the bait in the water and wait for what we can get.

 Exlectics seek to lead out or pull-out of the situation, what is of value –no matter on which side it is to be found. With exlectics emphasis would be on ‘designing forward’ rather than on judgement at each stage.

EBS stands for, examine both sides.

ADI stands for Agreement, Disagreement and Irrelevance.

OPV stands for, other people’s views.

FI-FO- in-formation-in, in- formation-out

There should be as much consciousness of the information that is not available as there is of the information that is available.

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