"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Wednesday, July 8, 2009



To flip perspectives and come up with solutions that suddenly become obvious.

Ideal for demolishing mental blocks.

One of the most eloquent and formidable techniques for generating ideas is called ‘Reversal.’

Just like common sense is not common, this technique is pure common sense but not commonly practised. Yet it is such an obviously powerful device that is amazingly simple to learn. When deployed, the outcomes can be prodigious.

Let us consider these thoughts in the domain of ‘reversal’ from the wisdom of several great brains:

“Tell me, Comrade, what is Capitalism?”
“The exploitation of man by man.”
“And what is Communism?”
“The reverse.”

Idries Shah, in Reflections, tells a tale that reveals an important truth:

A man met another, who was handsome, intelligent, and elegant. He asked him who he was. The other said, “I am the Devil.”
“But you cannot be,”
said the first man, “for the Devil is evil and ugly.”
“My friend,”
said Satan, “you have been listening to my detractors.”

“Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for.”

~ Victor FrankI

“The Bible tells you how to go to Heaven, not how the heavens go.”

~ Pope John Paul II

“Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.”

~ The Heart Sutra in Prajnaparamita Sutras

“Each thing we see hides something else we want to see.”

~ René Magritte

“The visible world is no longer a reality and the unseen world is no longer a dream.”

~ William Butler Yeats

It is our self-reflective minds that make us unique. Every thought is also an after-thought. As can be seen from the preceding quotes, significance resides at both ends of a pendulum-like trajectory.

In another sense, there is a parallel with Newton’s Third Law of Motion, where:

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

If we can appreciate the wisdom in these perceptions, we will be equally appreciative of an application that lies within. We are capable of seeing something from one perspective, then again from its opposite vantage point. If we fine-tune this insight a little, it becomes a formidable technique for generating creative ideas and solutions to challenges.

Soon after the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln met with several Southerners. Instead of despising the leader of the North, they ended up charmed by Lincoln’s gentle and friendly manner.

A congressman from the northern state reproached Lincoln for befriending them. Lincoln’s response was: “Am I not destroying my enemies by making them my friends?”

Psychologists point out that most of us have mind sets. That is, we tend to fall into ruts that limit our thinking. Turning the problem upside down may provide a novel solution.

It is said that Ford’s invention of the assembly line was achieved by this type of inverted thinking.

Instead of the usual ”How can we get people to the material to work on it?” Ford asked, “How can we get the work to the people?”
With this fresh approach the assembly line idea emerged.

~ Auren Uris & Jane Bensahel, “On the Job: Quick Solutions to Job Problems,” Los Angeles Times, 1981.

“Every act of creation is first an act of destruction.”

~ Picasso

The Pre-Copernican View: The Sun revolves around the Earth

Copernican Reversal! The Sun moves in! and now the Earth revolves around The Sun.

[To be continued in the Next Post. Excerpted from 'Surfing the Intellect: Building Intellectual Capital for a Knowledge Economy', by Dilip Mukerjea. All the images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]

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