a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.
This “[UMC] …” series of 3-minute readouts on the present climate within the United Methodist Church [UMC] (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (‘reset’ here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (here) (last week), is meant to be generative, not definitive. “Compatibilism” [and its attending humility (Micah 6.8)] is key to “The 95% solution.” This is ‘part 2’ of looking at getting unstuck through applying Edward de Bono’s ideas; and it’s ‘part 19’ of the overarching “[UMC] …” series.
If the notions of “po” and “lateral thinking” aren’t making sense to you, then please don’t fret or feel badly, as these ideas present a significant paradigm shift for almost everyone. Our ‘habits of thinking’ are rather unbending.
Employing three-minute episodes may not seem optimal in communicating these ideas. However, I’d argue that it is, because it leaves lots of space between installments for the material to simmer and steep in readers’ minds.
Alright, per Dr. Carter’s counsel, I’m 3-peating this 30-second video, as it is superb in demonstrating the difference between “rock logic” (Giorgio) and “water logic” (Ralph) [that I first included (here) and (last week)]:
Ralph’s logic is perceptual not “rational.” Even so, surely, in this case it is every bit as accurate/reliable.
Giorgio’s logic is de Bono’s “Greek gang of three: Socrates, Plato, Aristotle” [GG3], and while it, too, is accurate/reliable, it is obviously not exclusively so. A key problem that GG3 has is its insistence on its exclusivity; Giorgio can’t handle Ralph’s truth and needs to negate it (I Am Right You Are Wrong [IARYAW]). Applying GG3 intrinsically seeks judgment through negation.
Last week, I began to define “po” (rhymes with no). This graphic is from that missive:
Recall, I made that graphic as a “thought-scape regarding the UMC” — it’s a riff on de Bono’s “flow-scape” (we’ll look at flow-scapes later) — to highlight the relationship between two key facets of po, i.e., provocation and movement.
When one is stuck, movement is urgently needed. In the case of the UMC, we march our linear reasoning around in a circle, but there is no movement in terms of our general direction of travel, toward the Kingdom of God. We’re “wandering in the wilderness.” We’re stuck. We have two groups (52% vs 48%) essentially trying to negate each other. Negate the other and impose one’s own preferred conformity.
In IARYAW de Bono writes:
Provocation is quite useless unless we learn the operation of ‘movement.’ Movement is a new operation quite distinct from judgment. In judgment we compare an idea to our existing patterns and reject or criticize the idea if there is any mismatch. In movement we use the idea to move forward — not unlike what we do with poetry. [pg. 91]
De Bono continues with a helpful example of a formal use of po. Here, a company is stuck with a problem and seemingly no way to resolve it from within its present worldview/focus. In terms we’ve used previously, the company’s present paradigm creates shadows and blind spots. It’s stuck, and its rock logic is unable to produce progress. So, how can lateral thinking help?
A factory placed on a river puts out pollution. People downstream suffer. What can be done? We put in a provocation: ‘po the factory is downstream of itself.’ This sounds absurd and impossible. But it leads directly to the very logical idea of insisting that the input of the factory must be downstream of its own output. In this way the factory is the first to get a sample of its pollution and is more concerned to clean it up. [pg. 91]
‘No’ (negation) is the operational mechanism of traditional thinking [TT] (language-based, rationalist, linear, oppositional, negative, identification, rock logic) while ‘po’ is the operational mechanism of lateral thinking [LT] (perception-based, holistic, paradigm-shifting, water logic).
“NO is a rejection tool. PO is an insight restructuring tool.” [LT, pg. 226]
In the example that de Bono offers, po serves to restructure focus/concern. The company’s paradigm had previously hidden what is now visible, i.e., motivation for a collectively-desired, pollution-reducing approach. Installing this self-evident insight as public policy helps all companies to see their own problems within the paradigm-shifted context created by the po process.
Given our oppositional thinking defaults, to understand ‘water logic’ better, we need to understand ‘rock logic’ better. Rock logic seeks to identify what something IS through a linear process of eliminating all that it is not, i.e., oppositional negation. Water logic seeks to stowaway in the flow to where an idea leads, i.e., provocative possibility —> logical affirmation.
Well, that last line surely needs some explanation; however, our space has been used. Next time we’ll continue unpacking de Bono’s po (and his lateral thinking process).
De Bono’s po illustration regarding a river-polluting factory echoes the wisdom of Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, i.e., Bernard’s first degree of Love.