Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Crossing Disciplines and Seeing Things New

The value of working cross disciplines is the possibility it offers to see things new . If insight is what we're after in business or in a classroom, this is one way to find it.

How Does It Work?

Psycholinguistics teaches that thinking is associative and meaning changes with context.

Our mind sees the world in metaphors, as Doc Searls puts it. Our assumptions about individual objects, places, and people are often unarticulated, and as important, they are often culturally consistent.

We don't much notice of a can of soup in a grocery store. We either eat canned soup, or we don't, and in most cases we don't question the reasons for our choice.

Seeing New Possibilities In Relationships

The value or meaning of an object, place, person, etc. is not fixed or irrevocable. It can expand simply by putting it in a relationship with some other object, place, person etc. The objects don't change, but the ideas we usually attach to the objects can.

The mind craves narrative, a colleague's voice mail used to plead when asking callers to leave a message. When presented with an unfamiliar or incomplete set of data points, we simply create a new pattern.

A Familiar Example

What if some nut took that soup can we didn't notice -- or a urinal, say -- and put it in a museum?

If the pairing is surprising enough (it was), we take time to consider the distance between our expectations and the current juxtaposition. The image becomes symbolic as well as literal.

Where once it was invisible, we give new attention and meaning to the object, function, image, and environment as well as the relationship among the group.

Because thinking is associative, the mind finds connections or constructs conceptual bridges between two objects it hadn't consider alike before. In that process, we can find insight into new ways of seeing each member of the pair as well as the pair itself.

Translate "ways of seeing" as "value," and you've got a strategy for researching and building brand.

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