Tuesday, July 19, 2011

When I think of Soviet Science, this comes to mind

Borepatch posted about Soviet Science. And yes, those two words do bring Lysenko to mind.
But when I saw " Soviet Science" the acronym "TRIZ" popped into my head first.
I ran across this problem solving "system" as a young Architect. I was always on the hunt for a better approach. Triz turned out to be a rote process required by an intellectually and spiritually downtrodden Soviet populace in order to noodle their way through the most basic of approaches to problem solving. Pogroms and Socialism will do that to ya. I'm not going to write about it at length. Any American that owns no more tools than a pair of pliers and a screwdriver has better problem solving skills than the TRIZ process provides. In my not so humble opinion, it was so much mental masturbation by a not particularly creative individual.
One of the best problem solving techniques I came across came from Leonardo Da Vinci. He used a process he referred to as "Stream writing" if memory serves. When he had a problem he was trying to solve and he could not seem to get to the answer, he would write everything that came to mind. Leonardo would write every thought that popped into his head in one long continuous sentence without stopping, or thinking about what arrived on the paper.
I've tried this, on more than one occasion. It works unbelievably well. After the first time I tried it, I realized that what it did was clear all the competing thoughts in my mind, which allowed the Aha! moment to rise to the surface. This simple process starts with the problem at hand, then on to the solutions you've come up with. And, without stopping, the problems you see with your solutions. The random thoughts regarding the fact that you need to stop at the store on the way home from work and pick up milk and bread go into the mix as well and onto the paper. And, that is the whole purpose and magic of the process. It clears your mind while keeping it focused on the problem at hand.
What I thought would happen the first time I did this was that I would write jibberish for a while that would turn into an elegant description of the solution. It did not turn out that way. The mind works very very quickly when cleared of static. As I was writing the last of my own objections to my solutions, I stopped and audibly said, "That's It!". The solution appeared in my mind in one solid block of images and words.
Yes, I know the Russians put Sputnik into space first and blah, blah, blah. It is legal to walk around the city streets in Russia with a Big Gulp cup full of straight vodka as well. There's a reason for that. Think about it.
Stream Write on it a bit.


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