Stuck on a name

26/01/2008

At the moment some colleagues and I are trying to put together a grant application. Once one overcomes the sempiternal problem of finding a good research topic, this the main issue is to come up with an interesting (and useful) tack at the problem.

In this particular problem, information pills there have been a few previous and unsuccessful, viagra 40mg to put it mildly, attempts. I think that one of the reasons for these failures is extreme risk avoidance by not making any decisions that reduce your future options. The problem is that by not making decisions we are in fact eliminating future options. In other words ‘If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice’ (see lyrics of Freewill from Permanent Waves, by Rush).

In Christmas 2006 I received Roger von Oech’s Creative Whack Pack Success Edition as a present. This is the boxed set that comes with the ‘Creative Whack Pack’ of cards and the ‘A whack on the side of the head’ book. It is one of the best books on creativity that I have ever read: simple and to the point. Anyway, near the beginning of the book there is a quote that comes to mind:

The second assault on the same problem should come from a totally different direction — Tom Hirshfield

Then Von Oech goes on to discuss how the wording of the question limits the answers. The idea is nothing new, but the example is clear.

If an architect looks at an opening between and thinks ‘What type of door should I use to connect these rooms?’ that’s what she’ll design—a door. But if she thinks ‘What sort of passageway should I put here?’ she may design something different like a ‘hallway’, an ‘air curtain’ or perhaps a ‘courtyard’.

Coming back to our project, we will have to reframe the question and avoid getting stuck on words — and therefore the implied assumptions, restrictions and final objective — to have a chance to avoid becoming part of the list of unsuccessful projects.

Filed in books, research

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