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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.

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      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).

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          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:

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            “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:

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              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

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              Dr. Jamie Schwandt

              Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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              Last Updated on September 18, 2019

              15 Best Organizing Tips For Office Organization and Getting More Done

              15 Best Organizing Tips For Office Organization and Getting More Done

              You may think that you don’t have time for office organization, but if you really knew how much time that disorganization cost you, you’d reconsider.

              Rearranging and moving piles occasionally doesn’t count. Neither does clearing off your desk, if you swipe the mess into a bin, or a desk drawer.

              A relatively neat and orderly office space clears the way for higher productivity and less wasted time.

              Organizing your office doesn’t have to take days, it can be done a little at a time. In fact, maintaining an organized office is much more effective if you treat it like an on-going project, instead of a massive assault.

              So, if you’re ready to get started, the following organizing tips will help you transform your office into an efficient workspace.

              1. Purge Your Office

              De-clutter, empty, shred, get rid of everything that you don’t need or want. Look around. What haven’t you used in a while?

              Take one area at a time. If it doesn’t work, send it out for repair or toss it. If you haven’t used it in months and can’t think of when you’ll actually need it, out it goes. This goes for furniture, equipment, supplies, etc.

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              Don’t forget about knick-knacks, plants (real or artificial), and decorations – if they’re covered with dust and make your office look shabby, they’re fair game.

              2. Gather and Redistribute

              Gather up every item that isn’t where it belongs and put it where it does.

              3. Establish Work “Zones”

              Decide what type of activity happens in each area of your office. You’ll probably have a main workspace (most likely your desk,) a reference area (filing cabinet, shelves, binders,) and a supply area (closet, shelves or drawers.)

              Place the appropriate equipment and supplies are located in the proper area as much as possible.

              4. Close Proximity

              Position the equipment and supplies that you use most within reach. Things that you rarely use can be stored or put away.

              5. Get a Good Labeler

              Choose a label maker that’s simple to use. Take the time to label shelves, bins, baskets drawers. Not only will it remind you where things go, but it will also help others who may have a need to find, use, or put away anything in your workspace.

              6. Revise Your Filing System

              As we move fully into the digital age, the need to store paper files has decreased.

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              What can your store digitally? Are you duplicating files? You may be able to eliminate some of the files and folders you’ve used in the past. If you’re storing files on your computer, make sure you are doing regular back-ups.

              Here’re some storage ideas for creating a smooth filing system:

              • Create a meeting folder – Put all “items to be discussed” in there along with items that need to be handed off, reports that need to be given, etc. It’ll help you be prepared for meetings and save you stress in the even that a meeting is moved up.
              • Create a WOR folder – So much of our messy papers are things that are on hold until someone else responds or acts. Corral them in a WOR (Waiting on Response) folder. Check it every few days for outstanding actions you may need to follow-up on.
              • Storage boxes – Use inexpensive storage boxes to keep archived files and get them out of your current file space.
              • Magazine boxes – Use magazine boxes or binders to store magazines and catalogs you really want to store. Please make sure you really need them for reference or research, otherwise recycle them, or give away.
              • Reading folder – Designate a file for print articles and documents you want to read that aren’t urgent.
              • Archive files – When a project is complete, put all of the materials together and file them away. Keep your “working folders” for projects in progress.
              • File weekly – Don’t let your filing pile up. Put your papers in a “To File” folder and file everything once a week.

              Learn more tips on organizing your files here: How to Organize Your Files for Better Productivity

              7. Clear off Your Desk

              Remove everything, clean it thoroughly and put back only those items that are essential for daily use.

              If you have difficulty declutter stuff, this Declutter Formula will help you throw away stuff without regretting later.

              8. Organize your Desktop

              Now that you’ve streamlined your desktop, it’s a good idea to organize it.

              Use desktop organizers or containers to organize the items on your desk. Use trays for papers, containers for smaller items.

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              Don’t forget your computer desktop! Make sure the files or images are all in organized folders. I’d recommend you clear your computer desktop everyday before you leave work.

              9. Organize Your Drawers

              Put items used together in the same drawer space, stamps with envelopes, sticky pads with notepads, etc.

              Use drawer organizers for little items – paper clips, tacks, etc. Use a separate drawer for personal items.

              10. Separate Inboxes

              If you work regularly with other people, create a folder, tray, or inbox for each.

              11. Clear Your Piles

              Hopefully with your new organized office, you won’t create piles of paper anymore, but you still have to sort through the old ones.

              Go through the pile (a little at a time if necessary) and put it in the appropriate place or dump it.

              12. Sort Mails

              Don’t just stick mail in a pile to be sorted or rifle through and take out the pieces you need right now. Sort it as soon as you get it – To act, To read, To file, To delegate or hand off. .

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              13. Assign Discard Dates

              You don’t need to keep every piece of paper indefinitely. Mark on files or documents when they can be tossed or shredded.

              Some legal or financial documents must be kept for specified length of time. Make sure you know what those requirements are.

              14. Filter Your Emails

              Some emails are important to read, others are just not that important.

              When you use the filter system to label different types of emails, you know their priority and which to reply first.

              Take a look at these tips to achieve inbox zero: The Ultimate Way to get to Inbox Zero

              15. Straighten Your Desk

              At the end of the day, do a quick straighten, so you have a clean start the next day.

              Bottom Line

              Use one tip or try them all. The amount of effort you put into creating and maintaining an efficient work area will pay off in a big way.

              Instead of spending time looking for things and shuffling piles, you’ll be able to spend your time…well…working and you’ll enjoy being clutter free!

              More Organizing Hacks

              Featured photo credit: Alesia Kazantceva via unsplash.com

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