Tuesday, May 17, 2011


The first of a short series of suggestions for boosting creativity, problem solving, and releasing your inner genius!


The first time out to bat on her new job and Angelica had an important sales presentation to make. She now represented a server that designed and maintained websites for large manufacturers of consumer products. Furthermore, Angelica was pitching to an insurance company that had a history of being backward when it came to computers and new technologies in general. She knew they would be full of doubts and reservations. If she failed to respond to them all satisfactorily, the corporation was sure to pass on the idea of doing business through a website, and Angelica would lose the sale. Nevertheless, Angelica sailed through the presentation the same way she sailed through so many problems in life. She used a technique called Simulation (exactly how she used it will be explained at length in the book).
It’s how firefighters, the FBI, and other emergency service personnel acquire the skills to handle emergencies. It’s how corporations and government bodies test the viability of policies and proposals -- before putting them into practice. It’s the basis of those role playing games with “dungeons and dragons” that are the rage with kids today.
It’s as old as humankind, as cutting-edge as computer science.
It’s a process that can help you further develop your problem-solving skills -- and assess the up, and down, sides of potential solutions.
It’s called Simulation.

The term “simulation” derives from “similar to.” You don’t want to wait until an actual conflagration to train rookie fire fighters, and you don’t want to wait until a hostage crisis to prepare law enforcement personnel for rescuing hostages.
Instead, these organizations, along with athletes, business people, scientists, and others simulate the experience first. This can be a phony fire with dummies representing imperiled people, requiring rookie firefighters to assemble hoses quickly, follow all the proper steps and take all the precautions involved in putting out a fire, and protect themselves while rescuing those trapped within a building.
Today, computer programs help individuals and corporations simulate the stock market, the results of possible future economic and agricultural ups and downs, marketing strategies, how many people would be injured if a major tornado or hurricane struck their town, etc., etc.
In fact, several popular role playing games, like Dungeons & Dragons, SimCity, and Magic: the Gathering are based on these kinds of advanced simulation techniques.
But you don’t need expensive software, or fancy props, to apply the power of Simulation to your problems. You can get the same effects, without losing an erg of that power, with a simple pad and pen.

At its most basic, all Simulation involves two steps.

Step I:
1. Jotting down a sentence or two describing a dilemma.
2. Jotting down what it is you ultimately hope to accomplish or stand to gain by solving it.
3. Jotting down every possible solutions that occur to you, even when they seem extremely far out.

Step II.
1. Writing each of the potential solutions you’ve dreamed up as a heading on a page of its own..
2. Below each heading, list the probable sequence of events likely to follow putting that particular brain-child into practice. (Start at the beginning and list them right on through till they carry you -- or fail to carry you -- to your desired goal).
3. When a step could have either good or bad consequences, write each down -- under it, list a possible measure you might take to counter or prevent the negative consequences. Then continue on as described in #2.
4. If the first set of steps leading from one of your solutions to the desired outcome turns out not to work, go on to the next.

Simulation can be launching pad for:
 Solving problems and reaching decisions
 Determining the probable outcome
 Honing problem-solving abilities

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