Advertising
Advertising

Creative Problem Solving: Create Meaning from Contradictory Ideas

Creative Problem Solving: Create Meaning from Contradictory Ideas

Those who succeed in an unending changing environment are able to do one thing really well:

Create meaning from contradictory ideas.

We can create meaning by determining the factor of the interaction between contradictory ideas. We can do this through what is known as the Dialectic Method. This method was constructed mainly by Karl Marx, yet it heavily built on the ideas of the Hegelian dialectic.

In this article, I will explain to you what exactly the Dialectical Method is and how you can apply it in life to be a more creative problem solver.

Creative problem solving: the Dialectical Method

    Dialectic implies a process of evolution, where dialectical logic is a system identifying the structure of thought and was initially intended to replace the laws of formal logic. Nevertheless, I do not intend to dive into the history of the Dialectical Method.

    My intent here is to propose this method as a way to create meaning and create something new in our contemporary chaotic world by examining the three stages of development within the Dialectical Method:

    1. Thesis
    2. Antithesis
    3. Tension resulting in Synthesis

    All thought is based on pieces of a previous thought:

      Before you start diving into any of the stages, you need to first understand the meaning for each stage.

      Advertising

      Just like anything else, you must understand what each stage is before an understanding of the topic is reached.

      Stage #1: Thesis

      First, you have your thesis, known also as a proposition. This is the starting point or the status-quo giving rise to the reaction (antithesis).

      Stage #2: Antithesis

      Second, the antithesis is the reaction or the contradiction. This is the counter-proposition.

      Stage #3: Synthesis

      Third, the tension between the thesis and antithesis is resolved by synthesis.

      In other words, this is where meaning is created and where the new thesis comes to be.

      What’s important to understand here is the meaning of synthesis and how it differs from analysis:

      • Analysis is an examination of the elements of something (think of breaking something apart or analyzing each individual piece of a puzzle).
      • Synthesis is the combination of ideas to form something new (think of putting the pieces of a puzzle back together, yet you see something completely new).

        Want to know the best part of the Dialectical Method?

        This process is unending. Your synthesis is your new thesis, for which it too will possess a counter-proposition (antithesis).

        Advertising

          Watch the following video for a deeper understanding of the Dialectical Method:

          Destructive deduction and creative induction

            According to John Boyd, famous Air Force Colonel, we are constantly breaking apart old paradigms and putting the pieces back together creating a new perspective better matching our current reality. Essentially, we orient our self to a rapidly changing environment. This ultimately led to Boyd’s creation of the OODA Loop.

            Check out this article to find out more on the OODA Loop: A Fighter Pilot’s Secret to Surviving Wars: Making Right Decisions Fast

            Boyd described this through a thought experiment in a presentation called Strategic Game of ? and ?. Through the process of Destructive Deduction (analyze and pull apart mental concepts into discrete parts) and Creative Induction (using these elements to form new mental concepts) we can create a new mental model that more closely aligns with reality.

            Moreover, Boyd illustrated this thought experiment in an interesting way. Let’s see if you can figure it out.

            Part 1 of his question:

            “Imagine that you are on a ski slope with other skiers…that you are in Florida riding in an outboard motorboat, maybe even towing water-skiers. Imagine that you are riding a bicycle on a nice spring day. Imagine that you are a parent taking your son to a department store and that you notice he is fascinated by the toy tractors or tanks with rubber caterpillar treads.”

            Part 2:

            Advertising

            “Now imagine that you pull the skis off but you are still on the ski slope. Imagine also that you remove the outboard motor from the motorboat, and you are no longer in Florida. And from the bicycle you remove the handle-bar and discard the rest of the bike. Finally, you take off the rubber treads from the toy tractor or tanks. This leaves only the following separate pieces: skis, outboard motor, handlebars and rubber treads.”

            Sounds crazy right?

            Yet, what do you imagine would be created from these parts?

            The answer:

            a Snowmobile!

            How to apply the Dialectical Method (Step-by-step guide)

            Step #1. Identify your thesis

            Your Thesis is your starting point or status-quo. This is where your thinking exists today.

            Step #2. Identify the antithesis

            The Antithesis is the mechanism for change. This is the opposing group or ideas that do not support the status-quo (your Thesis).

            In order for things to change, we must have some form of opposition. These ideas bring about change by clashing with the Thesis.

            Step #3. Synthesis (new thesis)

            When a Thesis and Antithesis clash, we get progress. This is a meeting of two groups bringing about a new and better process. However, this process never ends.

            Let’s examine two examples of this method:

            Advertising

              Example #1

              • Thesis: Being
              • Antithesis: Nothing
              • Synthesis (New Thesis): Becoming

              Example #2

              • Thesis: People need to go to the bank to draw cash.
              • Antithesis: It’s not necessary to go to the bank to draw money.
              • Synthesis (New Thesis): Develop ATM to dispense cash at convenient locations.

              The reality behind this method

              The dialectical method becomes a continuous and unending mechanism for building on ideas.

              The truth is:

              The strongest ideas survive through the continuous dialectical process.

              “Truth is found neither in the thesis nor the antithesis, but in an emergent synthesis which reconciles the two.” – Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

              This method shows us why we should never get stuck living in our comfortable lives. We should continue to evolve and adapt; continue to challenge our hidden biases and assumptions.

              After all,

              “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” – Charles Darwin

              Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

              More by this author

              Dr. Jamie Schwandt

              Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

              5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory How Cognitive Learning Benefits Your Brain 10 Best Brain Power Supplements That Will Supercharge Your Mind How to Upgrade Your Critical Thinking Skills and Make Smart Choices How to Reprogram Your Brain Like a Computer And Hack Your Habits

              Trending in Smartcut

              1 How to Set Goals Smartly to Accomplish More in Life 2 7 Techniques to Stay Focused and Avoid Distractions 3 How to Set Short Term Goals for a Successful Life 4 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track in 2020 5 What Is a Habit? Understand It to Control It 100%

              Read Next

              Advertising
              Advertising
              Advertising

              Last Updated on December 10, 2019

              How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

              How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life

              It is hardly a secret that the key to successfully accomplishing one goal after another is staying motivated. There are, of course, tasks which successful people may not like at all, yet they find motivation to complete them because they recognize how each particular task serves a greater goal.

              So how to stay motivated most of the time? Here are 5 simple yet effective ways on how to stay motivated and get what you want:

              1. Find Your Good Reasons

              Anything you do, no matter how simple, has a number of good reasons behind it.

              You may not be able to find good reasons to do some tasks at first but, if you take just a few moments to analyze them, you will easily spot something good. We also have many tasks which don’t need any reasoning at all – we’ve been doing them for so long that they feel natural.

              If you’re ever stuck with some tasks you hate and there seems to be no motivation to complete it whatsoever, here’s what you need to do: find your good reasons.

              Even when you set goals, there needs to be reasons behind these goals. They may not be obvious, but stay at it until you see some, as this will bring your motivation back and will help you finish the task.

              Some ideas for what a good reason can be:

              • A material reward – quite often, you will get paid for doing something you normally don’t like doing at all.
              • Personal gain – you will learn something new or will perhaps improve yourself in a certain way.
              • A feeling of accomplishment – at least you’ll be able to walk away feeling great about finding the motivation and courage to complete such a tedious task.
              • A step closer to your bigger goal – even the biggest accomplishments in history have started small and relied on simple and far less pleasant tasks than you might be working on. Every task you complete brings you closer to the ultimate goal, and acknowledging this always feels good.

              2. Make It Fun

              When it comes to motivation, attitude is everything. Different people may have completely opposite feelings towards the same task: some will hate it, others will love it.

              Why do you think this happens? It’s simple: some of us find ways to make any task interesting and fun to do!

              Advertising

              Take sports for example. Visiting your local gym daily for a half-an-hour workout session sounds rather boring to some. Yet many others love the idea!

              They like exercising not only because they recognize the good reasons behind it, but simply because it’s fun! At certain time of their daily schedule, they find going to gym to be the best thing to do, simply because nothing else will fit their time and lifestyle so perfectly.

              Depending on how you look at it, you can have fun doing just about anything! Just look for ways of having fun, and you’ll find them!

              A simple approach is to start working on any task by asking yourself a few questions:

              • How can I enjoy this task?
              • What can I do to make this task fun for myself and possibly for others?
              • How can I make this work the best part of my day?

              As long as you learn to have the definite expectation of any task being potentially enjoyable, you will start to feel motivated.

              Some of you will probably think of a thing or two which are valid exceptions from this statement, like something you always hate doing no matter how hard you try making it fun. You’re probably right, and that’s why I don’t claim everything to be fun.

              However, most tasks have a great potential of being enjoyable, and so looking for ways to have fun while working is definitely a good habit to acquire.

              3. Change Your Approach And Don’t Give Up

              When something doesn’t feel right, it’s always a good time to take a moment and look for a different approach for the task.

              You may be doing everything correctly and most efficiently, but such approach isn’t necessarily the most motivating one. Quite often, you can find a number of obvious tweaks to your current approach which will both change your experience and open up new possibilities.

              Advertising

              That’s why saying “one way or another” is so common — if you really want to accomplish your goal, there is always a way; and most likely, there’s more than one way.

              If a certain approach doesn’t work for you, find another one, and keep trying until you find the one which will both keep you motivated and get you the desired results.

              Some people think that trying a different approach means giving up. They take pride in being really stubborn and refusing to try any other options on their way towards the goal.

              My opinion on this is that the power of focus is great, but you should be focusing on your goal, and not limiting your options by focusing on just one way to accomplish it it.

              4. Recognize Your Progress

              Everything you may be working on can be easily split into smaller parts and stages. For most goals, it is quite natural to split the process of accomplishing them into smaller tasks and milestones. There are a few reasons behind doing this, and one of them is tracking your progress.

              We track our progress automatically with most activities. But to stay motivated, you need to recognize your progress, not merely track it.

              Here’s how tracking and recognizing your progress is different:

              Tracking is merely taking a note of having reached a certain stage in your process. Recognizing is taking time to look at a bigger picture and realize where exactly you are, and how much more you have left to do.

              For example, if you’re going to read a book, always start by going through the contents table. Getting familiar with chapter titles and memorizing their total number will make it easier for you to recognize your progress as you read. Confirming how many pages your book has before starting it is also a good idea.

              Advertising

              You see, reading any book you will be automatically looking at page numbers and chapter titles, but without knowing the total number of pages, this information will have little meaning.

              Somehow, it is human nature to always want things to happen in short term or even at once. Even though we split complex tasks into simpler actions, we don’t quite feel the satisfaction until all is done and the task is fully complete.

              For many scenarios though, the task is so vast that such approach will drain all the motivation out of you long before you have a chance to reach your goal. That’s why it is important to always take small steps and recognize the positive different and progress made. This is how your motivation can sustain in long term.

              5. Reward Yourself

              This is a trick everyone likes: rewarding yourself is always pleasant. This is also one of the easiest and at the same time most powerful ways to stay motivated!

              Feeling down about doing something? Dread the idea of working on some task? Hate the whole idea of working? You’re not alone.

              Right from the beginning, agree on some deliverables which will justify yourself getting rewarded. As soon as you get one of the agreed results, take time to reward yourself in some way.

              For some tasks, just taking a break and relaxing for a few minutes will do.

              For others, you may want to get a fresh cup of coffee and even treat yourself a dessert.

              For even bigger and more demanding tasks, reward yourself by doing something even more enjoyable, like going to a cinema or taking a trip to some place nice, or even buying yourself something.

              Advertising

              Your progress may not seem to others like anything worth celebrating but, take time and do it anyway! It is your task and your reward, so any ways to stay motivated are good.

              The more you reward yourself for the honestly made progress, the more motivated you will feel about reaching new milestones, thus finally accomplishing your goal.

              Mix and Match

              Now that you have these five ways of staying motivated, it is a good moment to give you the key to them all: mix and match!

              Pick one of the techniques and apply it to your situation. If it doesn’t work, or if you simply want to get more motivated, try another technique right way. Mix different approaches and match them to your task for the best results.

              Just think about it: Finding good reasons to work on your task is bound to helping you feel better; and identifying ways to make it fun will help you enjoy the task even more.

              Or, if you plan a few points for easier tracking of your progress and on top of that, agree on rewarding yourself as you go; this will make you feel most motivated about anything you have to work through.

              More to Boost Your Motivation

              Featured photo credit: Lucas Lenzi via unsplash.com

              Read Next