by: Idris Mootee

Who are you? You probably have some ideas of how your mind works. Do you? A designer with a strategic mind? An artist with a business mind? A strategist with an engineer mind? An cosmetic surgeon with an artist mind? Are you a marketer with ADD? Are you a designer with a cook's mind? Are you a politician with the mind of a criminal?

We can extend these combination forever. Do you know how does your mind work? Does your analytical training in business or engineering school changes your way of thinking? But most people don’t admit sometimes the conflict between the hard-wiring and the training. They think they hit a brick wall when dealing with a particular kind of problems.

We all have different thinking patterns and some of us can switch between different one and some are less flexible. Some can use these styles at will and some are constantly struggling with adapting. Each of these thinking pattern response differently to how our minds perform in “proactive thinking” mode, “creative thinking”, “reactive thinking”, “passive thinking”  and “dormant thinking” mode. We can learn to effectively by selecting an appropriate thinking pattern, responding to the purposes of thinking if we practice enough to master the skills. I remember many years back I was training a team of my top global directors. We practice business solving by forcing each of them to apply different thinking pattern to get different outcomes. It was transformative for many of these smart people. It is like discovering a new feature within a software program that you’ve been using for years. I will briefly talk about each of the four here.

“Proactive Thinking” can help is to escape from causation, which is applicable only under predictable business situations, by adopting mechanical analysis, which is the typically realized by the Lateral Thinking, the Game Theory, and Econometrics. This was my training as an economist. It is a powerful approach to use to deal with uncertain future situations. It is the most powerful pattern if we apply it in managing unknowns and create a breakthough in stagnant situation. It is not for managing everyday repetitive tasks.

“Reactive Thinking” focuses a lot around causation, is the most efficient business thinking method under a predictable condition. This is often found in a lawyer’s mind. This is also largely the pattern of people who work in larger organizations. Reactive Thinking is powerful when we target continuous improvement I remembered when I first study the concept of “causation” in law school, I was fascinated by the application of the legal concept. In everyday business, it is about clarification of cause and effect relations of an action. It is very useful when you are dealing with marketing and operational improvement on a on going basis. Lawyers and accountants are always on this mode when they are at work.

“Passive Thinking” is the most used in our daily lives. It is a way of organizating things and we use it to only arrange information on formats passively. It is most helpful when we are dealing with massive data, Passive Thinking is very efficient in recognizing patterns and situations. It also involves intuition and framing which are key characteristics when we try to make sense of data as a designer, engineer, market researcher, engineer or business strategist. You don’t need to look for causal relations and rely on your sensing abilities.

“Dormant Thinking” is not known within the science-based western world. Dormant means lacking activity and it means thinking without the activity of thinking. So how can one be thinking without thinking? It is used when there are over thinking. Imagine situations when the emotion overpower the mind and we sometimes forced into reactionary mode. This is when domant thinking is useful. Sometimes people need to meditate or in a quasi-meditation status to activate this mode. The word meditation is a very poor substitute for the original term bhavana, which means 'culture' or 'development', i.e., mental culture or mental development. The Buddhist bhavana, properly speaking, is mental culture in the full sense of the term. It aims at cleansing the mind of impurities and disturbances, hatred, ill-will, indolence, worries and restlessness, sceptical doubts, and cultivating such qualities as concentration, awareness, intelligence, will, energy, the analytical faculty, confidence, joy, tranquility, leading finally to the attainment of highest wisdom which sees the nature of things as they are. It is about bringing beauty and peace to a situation. This form of meditation, called vipassana or vipashyana, which means "insight." Dormant thinking is an analytical method based on mindfulness, awareness, vigilance, observation. It is very effective. Thinking without thinking.

If you can master all of these thinking styles, you will elevate your analytical and creative power to the next level. Start practicing tomorrow and share with us your thinking pattern and experiences.

Need to get back to work. Very busy week.

Original Post: http://mootee.typepad.com/innovation_playground/2008/11/mastering-the-four-patterns-of-thinking-to-unleash-your-full-potential.html

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