Saturday, November 18, 2023

KIS - Keep It Simple! SIMPLICITY by Edward De Bono

In his book titled SIMPLICITY, Edward de Bono tells about a probable story: 

Ballpoint pens cannot write upside down for any length of time. Ballpoint pens depend on gravity to feed the ink and writing tip, so ballpoints do not function very well on space missions where there may be no gravity. The task was therefore to design a ballpoint pen that would work well in space. At some cost this pen was designed. It is a brilliant little pen that is now generally for sale, Nitrogen under pressure supplies the ink and gravity is not needed.

It is said that the Russian space programme reached the same point. But instead of setting out to design a gravity-free ballpoint, they used a concept. They said to themselves: 'We want something that writes upside down.' 

So they used a pencil. 

The point Edward de Bono is driving home through his book is: SIMPLICITY is a Value, a Habit and an Attitude of mind as much as it is a process.

His compelling arguments on Why Simplicity? are: 

  1. From complexity come stress, anxiety and frustration. 
  2. Complex old practices are continuing because no one thought of changing them.
  3. A self-organizing information system (routines) simplify life both as regards perception and action.
  4. There is always the 'possibility' of a simpler way.
  5. From a mass of data learn to pick out what really matters. Simplifying judgements and decisions.
  6. Regard simplicity as a value.
  7. Simple procedures save time, money and energy.
  8. There is an aesthetic appeal to simplicity.
  9. Complexity for the sake of complexity has no value whatsoever.
  10. Simplicity is powerful, because simplicity is a unification around a purpose.
The challenges for Simplicity? are:

  1. The first rule of simplicity is that you must want to simplify.
  2. Simplicity is not easy. So commitment is needed.
  3. One becomes too easily satisfied with the existing protocols. So drive to change is needed.
  4. Simplicity should be considered as a value and as a habit.
The Ten Rules of Simplicity are:

  1. Rule 1. You need to put a very high value on simplicity.
  2. Rule 2. You must be determined to seek simplicity.
  3. Rule 3. You need to understand the matter very well.
  4. Rule 4. You need to design alternatives and possibilities.
  5. Rule 5. You need to challenge and discard existing elements.
  6. Rule 6. You need to be prepared to start over again.
  7. Rule 7. You need to use concepts.
  8. Rule 8. You may need to break things down into smaller units.
  9. Rule 9. You need to be prepared to trade off other values for simplicity.
  10. Rule 10. You need to know for whose sake the simplicity is being designed.
He lists out several methods, approaches or techniques for Simplicity:

  1. Historical review (Is this still necessary?)
  2. Shedding, Trimming, Cutting, Slimming etc. (retain only if justified)
  3. Listening (end-user perspective)
  4. Combining (eliminate and combine)
  5. Extracting concepts (why an action is being carried out)
  6. Bulk and Expectations (core and non-core activities)
  7. Restructuring (re-engineering)
  8. Start Afresh (back to basics)
  9. Modules and Smaller Units (work breakdown structure)
  10. Provocative Amputation (lateral thinking)
  11. Wishful Thinking (wish what the process should look like?)
  12. Shift Energies (shift focus from one part to other parts of the system)
  13. The Ladder Approach (work incrementally, step by step)
  14. The Flavour Approach (Design the big picture, and then make it practical and concrete)
SIMPLICITY is a thought provoking book, and it is of high value in today's context of hustle, complexity and dynamic changes. Books like IGIKAI and philosophy of MINIMALISM (Less is More) are increasing gaining popularity and getting into the mainstream thinking and lifestyle.  This book was first published in 1998, so it's quite interesting to see Edward De Bono's his pioneering thinking several decades ago. You can give this book a detailed reading and let's KIS - Keep It Simple!

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Growth Mindset

Copyright 2019 by Mari Andrew

Mindset is probably one of the most overused word in Psychology. It's a loaded term, so to understand it let's look at it's definition in APA (American Psychology Association). Mind-set is a state of mind that influences how people think about and then enact their goal-directed activities in ways that may systematically promote or interfere with optimal functioning. 

So for understanding What is Mindset? we have to look at it through the prism of attitude (state of mind) and behaviour (goal-orientation).

Let's dwell into Dr Carol Dweck's research to understand Mindset further. 

"For thirty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. Believing that your qualities are carved in stone - the Fixed Mindset - creates an urgency to prove yourself because you are concerned with how you'll be judged. The other type of people belief that your basic qualities are just the starting point for development - the Growth Mindset - you can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies, and help from others. Therefore growth mindset makes you concerned with improving." - Dr Carol Dweck

For an easy comparison between the Fixed and Growth Mindset, you can read the table below:

This Blog's tagline says, 'Applied Psychology - Wisdom without application is worthless'. It's great to know this research and theory, but what does it mean to us in practical terms? Is it's real-life application? For this, let's explore the relationship between Ability and Accomplishment.

Research across all spheres of life shows Ability (Talent) is over-rated in long-term success. Only talent does not ensure the sustenance of success. For achieving and maintaining success, one has to back this up with hard work and continuous learning. Well doesn't this sound familiar to Growth Mindset? :) 

So for sure, there is a strong incentive for us to develop a growth mindset and shun the fixed mindset.

In this regard, in a Q&A session, Dr Carol Dweck was asked - Can I be half and half? I recognize both mindsets in myself. 

She replied - "All of us have elements of both - we're all a mixture of fixed and growth mindsets. I'm talking about it as a simple either-or right now for the sake of simplicity. People can also have different mindsets in different areas. I might think that my artistic skills are fixed but that my intelligence can be developed. Or that my personality is fixed, but my creativity can be developed. We've found that whatever mindset people have in a particular area will guide them in that area."

So self-introspect to find out the areas in your life, in which you hold a Fixed Mindset (for example, I am not good in Maths, I can't do programming, etc), embrace and accept it, and embark on the journey of changing your Fixed Mindset to Growth Mindset with willpower and self-control.

Wishing you a happy transformation from a fixed to a growth mindset!

Reference: For a detailed reading, I recommend you pick up the book Mindset by Dr Carol S. Dweck, published by Hachette.