processing of ideas

Thursday, December 25, 2014
Where does an idea come from? This is a question that over the years has raised many controversial debates. Many people put time and effort to investigate the process that our brains go through to come up with a new creative idea. I think it is safe to say that our brains are extraordinary good in taking in information, process it, combine it with other sources and come up with new solutions. However, we are quite bad at describing of explaining how we are doing it [1].

But in my opinion, more important than above question is to the question of how to process, validate and modify an idea. No matter how we get new solution, we need a systematic and correct way of processing it before it goes to production. While this might seem trivial to many people, this is the common source of failures. Many people take the straight-line paradigm:

I have seen cases that the designers skip analysis and go right away to design. Clearly, in above paradigm there is no place for modification and learning. While the early stage of execution of an idea is a great opportunity for validation and adaptation to make sure the path we are taking is in fact a correct path. J. Tukey in his paper "We need both Exploratory and Confirmatory" argues that scientists and engineers, and especially data analyst and Statisticians, need to get the habit of using the following iterative paradigm:

In other words, the path of design and analysis is an iterative path that also creates some question. Answering those question will help the designer for better design and understanding of his/her idea before it goes to production.

[1] Inspired by "the second machine age," E. Brynjolfsson, A. McAfee.

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"I have never thought of writing for reputation and honor. What I have in my heart must out; that is the reason why I compose." --Beethoven

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