Thursday, 7 April 2011

Training Problem Solving Ability

The ability to solve problems is highly prized. As Jose Silva used to reason,"If IQ is a measure of how effectively we solve problems, then by increasing our abilities to solve problems, we raise our IQ."

Ironically, training problem solving abilities is not a complex process. It is in fact rather simple: Use your problem-solving abilities on a regular basis. Give it a good workout.

So, the question is: How?

I recommend Winsight article 55:

That describes the windtunnel process, which is a process whereby a person is given a question or problem and probed to provide nonstop solutions to it for 11 minutes or even more. This is done by torrential talking, but I suspect it can be done by writing as well, though that would be much slower and require more time.

The idea is that we all have the solutions to our problems within us, which is a Socratic proposition. By asking the right questions, and by probing our minds beyond the scope of our usual thought processes, we can discover new solutions. Over time, doing this also expands our natural ability to process problems quickly.

The key is continue to drain out our normal range of responses to a problem as quickly as possible, hence the "torrential" solutions to the problem that we are required to push out of our minds. The out-loud description serves as further behavioural reinforcement.

Here are some hints for facilitating the process:

1. Maintain a sense of curiosity about what solutions might arise from your own mind throughout.
2. Keep talking even if you think it does not make sense - do not edit.
3. If you find that you have a lot to say about a subject, then extend the length of time you are required to talk. There should be pressure on you to grasp for more than your usual capacity.

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