Behind all processes, there is a single common process

After Lazy Designers, I have received many suggestions and some interesting comments introducing new points of view and theories. Mainly, I have been trying to understand a bit more about three theories that have commonalities with my PhD main research theory: a rational thought behind a decision-making process.

These three theories are Later Thinking (Edward De Bono – physics), Pattern Language (Christopher Alexander – architecture) and Operational Research (methods related to software engineering and mathematics).

The theory of a Lateral Thinking has been introduced by Edward De Bono (1970). De Bono’s theory understands the making-decision process (reasoning) as a process of restructuring patterns (insight) and provoking new ones (creativity). In other words, new ideas are created or old ideas are looking from a different perspective as well as old information is putting together in a new way. A difference from rational thinking process, such as mathematical ones, De Bono explains that lateral thinking is not a linear process. In contrast, it is an organic process where the steps do not have to be sequential.

In terms of Pattern Language, Christopher Alexander (1977) developed a theory of creation by defining a sequence of activities (patterns) presented in all acts of creation. These patterns show us what we already know, but we don’t want to admit because it seems so childish, so obvious, and so primitive. Besides architectonic problems, Alexander’s theory has been used to solve complex engineering and computer science tasks.

Finally, the third of these theories deals with rational and mathematical techniques to solve complex problems (vertical thinking). These interdisciplinary techniques, called Operational research, use a wide range of mathematical and formal science methods, such as mathematical modelling, statistics, and algorithms to achieve optimal or near optimal solutions.

What all these theories have in common? In simple words, the need of some kind of rational and systematic method for developing new ideas, creating new projects and solving complex problems. Jones (1992) has discussed these same concepts from a graphic design point of view.
In addition, more closely related to diagrams, some authors, such as Cleveland (1994), Wilkinson (1999) and Kosslyn (2006) have deeply studied diagrams construction from a mathematical approach, and have developed different software to create diagrams.
To sum up, all these authors support the existence of a kind of system or mathematical component  for creativity and innovation, and, at the same time, also support a systematised side of diagrams process of creation.

– Alexander, C. (1977) A pattern language : towns, buildings, construction. New York: Oxford University Press
– Alexander, C. (1979) The timeless way of building. New York: Oxford University Press
– Cleveland, W.S. (1994) The elements of Graphing Data. New Jersey, US: Hobart Press
– De Bono, E.  (1970, 1990). Lateral thinking : a textbook of creativity. Harmondsworth: Penguin
– Kosslyn, S.M. (2006) Graph Design for the Eye and Mind. New York: Oxford University Press
– Wilkinson, L. (1999). The grammar of graphics. Statistics and computing. US: Springer


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