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Crucial thinking skill that nobody ever taught you
Old 03-03-2018, 09:03 AM   #1
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Crucial thinking skill that nobody ever taught you

It's where you consider the opposite of what you want, is known as inversion. It's different than beginning with the end in mind, which is what many are taught to do.

"Inversion is a powerful thinking tool because it puts a spotlight on errors and roadblocks that are not obvious at first glance. What if the opposite was true? What if I focused on a different side of this situation? Instead of asking how to do something, ask how to not do it."

https://medium.com/the-mission/the-c...u-536191d101ab

I think we sometimes sort of bump up against this, in our risk analysis of situations. Making it a focused effort might flush-out further risks.

omni
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Old 03-03-2018, 09:21 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by omni550 View Post
It's where you consider the opposite of what you want, is known as inversion. It's different than beginning with the end in mind, which is what many are taught to do.

"Inversion is a powerful thinking tool because it puts a spotlight on errors and roadblocks that are not obvious at first glance. What if the opposite was true? What if I focused on a different side of this situation? Instead of asking how to do something, ask how to not do it."

https://medium.com/the-mission/the-c...u-536191d101ab

I think we sometimes sort of bump-up against this, in our risk analysis of situations. Making it a focused effort might flush-out further risks.

omni
Good article. Perhaps an advanced version of "what if" scenarios in business managing.
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Old 03-03-2018, 09:58 AM   #3
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I’ve seen a few cases of cranial-rectal inversion...
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Old 03-03-2018, 11:01 AM   #4
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I’ve seen a few cases of cranial-rectal inversion...
Usually in management.

That was another interesting article, Omni. You're on a roll.

I was having a problem with internalizing what the author was talking about at first. But when he got to the point of giving examples it became clearer. I especially like the example about decluttering.

Quote:
“We should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.”
In other words, the default should be to give anything away that does not “spark joy” in your life. This shift in mindset inverts decluttering by focusing on what you want to keep rather than what you want to discard.
That and the example about figuring out how not to lose money vs. worrying about how to make money were both helpful in understanding the concept.
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Old 03-03-2018, 11:23 AM   #5
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this is a very helpful way to approach the "devesting" of our household goods as we prep to relocate when we FIRE in a few years.
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Old 03-03-2018, 02:10 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by omni550 View Post
It's where you consider the opposite of what you want, is known as inversion. It's different than beginning with the end in mind, which is what many are taught to do.

"Inversion is a powerful thinking tool because it puts a spotlight on errors and roadblocks that are not obvious at first glance. What if the opposite was true? What if I focused on a different side of this situation? Instead of asking how to do something, ask how to not do it."
I had that beaten out of me at work over the years.

I originally thought a 'critical design review' was to discover weak points in a product launch by playing reverse 'what-ifs'. I was accused of being negative and not a team player.

I learned over time that the effort was to get buy-in to the existing idea and let the flaws show up in the marketplace.

Well, by playing along, I eventually was promoted to VP of marketing and we went back to my original thought process.
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Old 03-03-2018, 02:20 PM   #7
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I had that beaten out of me at work over the years.

I originally thought a 'critical design review' was to discover weak points in a product launch by playing reverse 'what-ifs'. I was accused of being negative and not a team player.

I learned over time that the effort was to get buy-in to the existing idea and let the flaws show up in the marketplace.

Well, by playing along, I eventually was promoted to VP of marketing and we went back to my original thought process.
Glad you finally got to do it "Your Waaaaay." (cue music)

omni
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Old 03-03-2018, 02:31 PM   #8
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Glad you finally got to do it "Your Waaaaay." (cue music)

omni
Yeah, only took me 27 years to get there.
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Old 03-03-2018, 09:43 PM   #9
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"What is the agenda?"

Taking time to consider what the real issue might be (rather than the specific topic under discussion).

Most people do not think before they speak. For those who do think before speaking, it is usually just organize their thoughts and choose words to use.

Even worse, most people do not think about what they hope will happen after they speak.

We may wish for a specific action (getting a kid to shut the door after herself when she goes outside) or hoping for a deeper discussion ("what you say is true and I think there are additional factors, including....").

Simple examples -
Social
My teen neighbor has terrible table manners. I'm tired of nagging him and I want to yell at him to stop being an immature twit and do what I say.
Instead, I learn about something he wants that will require some social skills (interviewing for an internship with someone who is from the South and has impeccable manners). I prepare a sheet of Do's and Don'ts and explain to teen how easily it is to offend people with bad table manners.
He learns or not; he gets the internship or not. It's on him.

Work (I am a marketing consultant)
Instead of announcing your new service business to the world and expecting them to come to you, learn your target market and go to where those people are. Be there when they look for someone who does what you do.
If they look for everything online, have a website and Facebook page. If they look for a handyman by asking at the hardware store, put your name and contact info on the hardware store's referral list.


In other words -
What is the bigger topic or issue here?
What are we really discussing?
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Old 03-03-2018, 10:09 PM   #10
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The Near Enemy is a psychological construct.
Two emotions that look the same but are actually opposites.
One parades as the other, is mistaken for the other, but one is healthy and the other’s sick, twisted.

A quote from Louise Penny book illustrates this perfectly.

The character, Myrna (the former psychologist, now book seller), is explaining the pairings to Gamache (the homicide detective).


"There are three couplings.

Attachment masquerades as love
Pity as compassion
Indifference as equanimity

Compassion involves empathy. You see the stricken person as an equal. Pity doesn’t. If you pity someone you feel superior. It’s hard to tell one from the other. Even the person feeling it. Almost everyone would claim to be full of compassion. It’s one of the noble emotions. Pity is the near enemy of emotion. As long is pity’s in place, there is no room for compassion. It destroys, squeezes out, the nobler emotion.

Love and attachment. Mothers and children are classic examples. Some mothers see their job as preparing their kids to live the big world. To live wherever they choose and do what makes them happy. That’s love. Others cling to their children. Live through them. Stifle them. Manipulate, use guilt trips, cripple them. It’s not just mothers and children. It’s friendships, marriages. Love wants the best for others. Attachment takes hostages.

Equanimity and indifference. I think that’s the worst of the near enemies, the most corrosive. Equanimity is balance. When something overwhelming happens in our lives we feel it strongly but we also have an ability to overcome it. People who somehow survive the death of a child or a spouse. An ability to accept things and move on.
Indifference? All those stoic people. Stiff upper lip. And some really are that brave. But some are really psychotic. They just don’t feel pain. They don’t care about others. They don’t feel like the rest of us. They’re like the Invisible Man, wrapped in the trappings of humanity, but beneath there’s emptiness."
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Crucial thinking skill that nobody ever taught you
Old 03-04-2018, 06:15 AM   #11
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Crucial thinking skill that nobody ever taught you

Quote:
Originally Posted by omni550 View Post
"Inversion is a powerful thinking tool because it puts a spotlight on errors and roadblocks that are not obvious at first glance. What if the opposite was true? What if I focused on a different side of this situation? Instead of asking how to do something, ask how to not do it."

Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s investing partner, used the maxim “Invert, always invert.” Apparently it was not original with him, but actually came from the mathematician Carl Jacobi. The basic principle - always consider a situation from the exact opposite point of view, e.g. try to prove why an investing thesis might be wrong, in addition to focusing on why it might be right - has broad applicability.
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Old 03-04-2018, 06:21 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by gretah View Post
The Near Enemy is a psychological construct.
Two emotions that look the same but are actually opposites.
One parades as the other, is mistaken for the other, but one is healthy and the other’s sick, twisted.

...

“Attachment masquerades as love
Pity as compassion
Indifference as equanimity”

...

This is a fairly deep observation, and worth some reflection.

It reminds me of the quote from Elie Wiesel:

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”
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Old 03-04-2018, 08:44 AM   #13
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Hmmm, so does this mean my fear of spending retirement living under a bridge in a cardboard box eating cat food, is inversion - a crucial thinking skill? (If nothing else, it did result in consistent savings.)
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Old 03-04-2018, 08:59 AM   #14
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Now I am wondering why should I care that I am apathetic.
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Old 03-04-2018, 10:00 AM   #15
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I successfully used this approach on a really tough production problem we were having.

The product had a high failure rate ( 10 % or so) for one of the critical tests we performed. The development engineers kept working on it, they would find a marginal parameter on some sample failures they collected, and they'd find a way to improve it, and put the change in - but things didn't get much better. So they'd look at that batch of failures, and they'd find another marginal parameter, find a way to improve it, and put the change in, and again - only marginal improvement.

So this went on, and I reviewed some data and said - but the majority of the boards pass, and ~ 5 % pass with lots of margin to spare, super-performers. So how about we collect the top 5 %, and you can look at those to see what makes them good, rather than looking at what makes the failures bad?

They seemed a little skeptical, but figured it was worth a shot, and they hadn't had much success chasing failures, so we went ahead with it. In short order the development engineers came back and discovered that all the good ones shared a particularly good characteristic. And if that characteristic was good, it didn't matter if all those problems they were chasing were marginal or not - the one good thing compensated for all those marginally bad parameters.

And it turned out that making that one parameter consistently good wasn't very tricky, they just had never looked at it that way. So they put in that change, and the problems dropped very significantly. I didn't know it was called "inverse thinking", but I always keep that in mind when facing a tough problem.

I think it applies to social issues as well, instead of asking why some people commit such and such a crime, or have such and such a problem, ask why other people don't do those things.

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Old 03-04-2018, 11:02 AM   #16
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Inversion is a very powerful way to do business. I used it in my business world and was the answer solver in most cases.

Thanks for sharing that.
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Old 03-04-2018, 12:18 PM   #17
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The Stoics believed that by imagining the worst case scenario ahead of time, they could overcome their fears of negative experiences and make better plans to prevent them. While most people were focused on how they could achieve success, the Stoics also considered how they would manage failure. What would things look like if everything went wrong tomorrow? And what does this tell us about how we should prepare today?
Hey, how often do I bring up the 25' class C parked on New Mexico state land as my housing of last resort? After I somehow lost my 7-figure stash, and my 2 homes, and the government stops paying SS?

If I can handle that ridiculous worst-case financial situation, then it allows me to think of other bad scenarios that are more realistic, such as deteriorating health conditions.


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....I originally thought a 'critical design review' was to discover weak points in a product launch by playing reverse 'what-ifs'. I was accused of being negative and not a team player...
Most of my career was spent in aerospace where failures are not forgiving as those of a consumer product. People in this business have established methodologies. They do Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA), and Fault Tree Analysis (FTA). And that's how we have so few aircraft crashes.

From that background, I am constantly alarmed when seeing young people design things with a cavalier attitude.

"Just try it and see what happens" (in a lab, not in real life!).

Or "You can always reboot" (but not without loss of money, time, business reputation, and even life or limbs).
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Old 03-04-2018, 06:25 PM   #18
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I’ve owned my own business for 21+ years. My first question when meeting clients is “what are you trying to achieve?” I also learned long ago that sometimes the answer is in the opposite.
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Old 03-04-2018, 06:46 PM   #19
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I’ve owned my own business for 21+ years. My first question when meeting clients is “what are you trying to achieve?” I also learned long ago that sometimes the answer is in the opposite.
When I was 40, I asked myself what the heck I wanted, being miserable at megacorp despite a good salary and a nice technical position. The answer was "I want to be rich, by building my own business".

After failing miserably, my quest was "To survive financially until my children get through college, then have enough money to retire early. Forget about rich".

That final goal, I accomplished.
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Old 03-04-2018, 06:49 PM   #20
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When I was 40, I asked myself what the heck I wanted, being miserable at megacorp despite a good salary and a nice technical position. The answer was "I want to be rich, by building my own business".

After failing miserably, my quest was "To survive financially until my children got through college, then have enough money to retire early. Forget about rich".

That final goal, I accomplished.
You have now reached level 10 in the game of life.
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