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Yes or no, not maybe
Saturday, August 14, 2004
A few months ago I read de Bono's Thinking Course on a long flight. I'd picked it up at a used book sale for fifty cents and the topic was intriguing. Thinking is a skill. It's like driving; you can get better at it with practice. After you do, you'll begin doing it automatically. People confuse thinking with intelligence. Bad mistake, for it leads to intelligent people squandering their potential.

Before I recount lessons learned from de Bono, I want to make some independent observations of my own.

There are two types of people in this world: those who can count and those who can't. Well, that's not quite right, but it probably seems reasonable to binary thinkers. Binary thinkers? People who see the world in terms of either/or. On/off. Dichotomies. To them, everything is black or white but rarely gray.

Bipolar thinking oversimplifies. Most issues contain gradations, maybes, what-if's, emotions, mitigating factors, and other entanglements. They are analog. They are a continuum.

Business school teaches one to consider everything as a tradeoff. One becomes accustomed to weighing factors on either side of the issue.

A session at last year's I-KNOW in Graz looked at virtual communities of practice as a series of trade-offs. Were they seeking innovation or standards? The list grew rapidly:

PredictSelf-fulfilling prophesy

Last night a group of us went to see What the Bleep is Going On? In our post-mortem of the movie, we agreed that we'd have been less skeptical had the flick been positioned as art or poetry instead of science. The world is not made of absolutes. Everything's a matter of degree.

Yesterday I received a critique of an article I'd written, saying that what I had proposed was "just another ridiculous buzzword meant to repackage the same old things." If the critic had moved the slider a little away from the edge, offering some pro's in the prose as well as the con's, I'd have taken her more seriously.


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