Friday, October 14, 2011

Ramp Up Your Problem-Solving Thinking

I'm working on a chapter for Handbook#1 for Intelligent Women Only: Break the Negative Self-Talk Habit and preparing for a presentation on problem-solving thinking, so I'm immersed. I have a one question poll that you can respond to about problem-solving, anonymously, on Twitter. Go to @drtingley on Twitter or tohttp://t.co/1JMbOs6v http://t.co/1JMbOs6v to take the survey. I would greatly appreciate your taking the time to respond before you read the rest of this post!

Here's some of the latest research of interest on problem-solving.

There are two kinds of problem-solvers: logical/analytical and intuitive/insightful. And there are gender differences as you might guess. More men use the classical sequential, cyclical process:
• Identify the problem
• Gather information
• Propose some solutions
• Implement a solutions
• Evaluate effectiveness

More women than men use the intuitive/insightful process, which is more of a non-conscious "aha" mode of problem-solving.

Being able to use both methods increases the originality and practicality of solutions. For women adding classic step-wise problem solving  requires a learning process like learning and practicing any new skill. You can find Dewey's original sequence online or I'll send it to you via e-mail if you're interested. Or you can ask someone you know to help you learn the logical/analytical system.

Learning the intuitive method of problem-solving is more difficult because it is a non-conscious process. It involves lateral thinking, making remote connection in neurons, and certain conditions under which it works best.

• Quiet environment, reduced brain activity
• A calm, pleasant mood
• A state of being inside your brain, rather than externally focused
• An attitude of NOT trying too hard, of not making a concentrated effort to solve a problem

e.g When I was trying to figure out a name for my first book (Genderflex) I quietly incubated the question, "What shall I call my book about male-female communication in the workplace?" every night before I went to sleep. I generally ran very early in the morning when it was quiet and I was alone and in a daydreaming state. One morning the word genderflex just popped into my head. It seemed miraculous at the time;long before before neuroscience could confirm the reality of the intuitive process.

It's hard to explain it to men, but with this new research using brain imaging, maybe they'll buy it. Let me know if you'd like me to e-mail the original journal article that I'm quoting.
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