1.1 Exploring possibilities
One way of thinking outside the box when faced with a choice or a problem is to imagine you are trying to solve a puzzle. A detective, for example, will explore all the different possibilities or explanations and then weigh the best option or most likely explanation, using information as evidence.
Inventors do a similar thing when coming up with solutions. The American inventor and businessman Thomas Edison (1847–1931) tested more than 6,000 different materials in his search for the filament for the light bulb, before arriving at bamboo as the one that worked most effectively. This teaching on thinking has been adapted from some of the thinking techniques developed by Edward De Bono (1933–2021) who you met in Session 2.
Now imagine you were a detective trying to solve the following puzzle…
Take a look at this picture of a dog lying dead. What happened?
There are several possible explanations that can be explored, examined and discounted or not, depending on the facts. For example:
- The dog accidentally fell from the flats above.
- Someone from a rival gang killed the dog for revenge.
- The dog ate rat poison nearby.
- The dog was found dead somewhere else and put here.
- The dog was just old, laid down here and died.
Often in situations where there seems at first to be an obvious explanation, there are many other possibilities that are worth considering, weighing up and deciding if they are valid before closing the case. When faced with a puzzle or problem and it feels like there is only one choice, remember to take a step back and look at it with a cool head. If you look hard enough, you might find there are more choices available than you first thought.
Your ability to imagine different possibilities can help you with understanding a situation and different people’s agendas or motivations and help you come up with different responses or solutions.