“Never play leapfrog with a unicorn.” -Unknown
Insights into some basic process underlie problem solving, design, and innovation (part 1 of 3)
Leapfrogging: If one tries to develop an idea steadily, he may come to a point where he is blocked and can go no further. This often happens when a sequential, "vertical thinking", attitude is applied to the creative situation. One needs to be able to leapfrog over these areas of difficulty because, once one has got beyond them, he may find that they are not essential or that it is then easy to find a way around them. Leapfrogging involves treating the area of difficulty as an assumption; for instance, "I don't at the moment know what engine we can use but let us assume that we can find an engine that is cheap and reliable." One then leapfrogs over this area of ambiguity and comes back later on to fill it in as a separate problem in itself. Another advantage of this is that, if the general idea proves unsound, one need not even bother to fill in the leapfrogged gap. If, on the other hand, one had had to work steadily through all the difficulties and the general nature of the idea proved unsuitable, there would be a great waste of effort.
Cliche units: Information and ideas are never handled in a pure fashion but only when packaged as some particular pattern. When such patterns prove useful they acquire a life of their own as cliché units. Certain standard ways of carrying out particular functions are examples. One has no choice but to use cliche units, but having used them one can then examine them to see what it is that one really wants from them. A good example of a cliché unit is the old design of automobile directional signals. To imitate a hand stuck out of the window, a movable arm was attached to the side of the car.
Lateral Thinking for Management
“I hate it when my foot falls asleep during the day, 'cause that means it's gonna be up all night." -Stephen Wright
Sparks of creativity often flow from new knowledge. Frequently it's information about things that are completely new to you. Sometimes, it's new facts about familiar things. And sometimes it's information about things that you didn't know you didn't know. This last category, usually filled with items that are silly and fanciful, can provide a platform for your imagination to jump from.
So here I present the: "Things you didn't know you didn't know" section (or the alternately titled: "Trivia to win bar bets" section).
How and Why Do Horses Sleep Standing Up?
Horses have a unique system of interlocking ligaments and bones in their legs, which serves as a sling to suspend their body weight without strain while their muscles are completely relaxed. Thus, horses don't have to exert any energy consciously to remain standing-their legs are locked in the proper position during sleep.
Most horses do most of their sleeping while standing, but patterns differ. Veterinarians we spoke to said it was not unusual for horses to stand continuously for as long as a month, or more. Because horses are heavy but have relatively fragile bones, lying in one position for a long time can cause muscle cramps.
While one can only speculate about why the horse's body evolved in this fashion, most experts believe that wild horses slept while standing for defensive purposes. Wayne 0. Kester, D.V.M., executive director of the American Association of Equine Practitioners, told us that in the wild, the horse's chief means of protection and escape from predators was its speed. "They were much less vulnerable while standing and much less apt to be caught by surprise than when lying down."
Why do clocks run clockwise and other imponderables? An Imponderable Book