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Consider the Opposite

When you focus your attention on a specific subject, a couple of patterns get activated in your brain and these dominate the perception at that moment. These patterns are created by your knowledge and your experiences, they have a tendency to produce predictable ideas, therefore using them to think about problems can be in itself problematic. These patterns also become stronger by its use, we tend to strengthen and protect our patterns instead of questioning them.

A hallucination is a fact, not an error; what is erroneous is a judgment based upon it. - Bertrand Russell

What should one do to break these habitual behaviours?

If you change your focus when thinking about something you "know" to thinking about something that is totally unrelated, then different patterns get activated. Now, here's the possibility to create a connection between two different patterns, these connections will not always be novel, but you can always judge its value after the process.

The Process

Think about the opposite of your problem. Most problem definitions are positive oriented, they focus on the challenge to get better or more. Instead of trying to get better by adding, we can look at things in the opposite way. Instead of saying how can we sell more products, turn it on its head and think what should we do so people don't buy our designs.

Start by stating your problem definition:
What should we do to prevent interest in our work?

Possible answers:

  • Using none-environmental materials
  • Breaking consistency
  • Lack of product knowledge/description
  • Not helping & solving problems
  • No perceived value
  • No risk prevention, no guarantee
  • Not thinking about the user
  • Not taking the users perspective

This process focus the weaknesses instead of adding strength. By preventing weakness in creative ways, what is left is something strong. But why stop there, You can add more strengths after removing the weaknesses. Or you can think about how you could make a weakness in to a strength.

The trick here is to think of both sides, being able to think about opposite sides of a problem at the same time, can create a connection between different patterns. After dissecting both sides; maybe a new perspective will percolate your perception and change how you conduct your work.


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5 Comments


  1. Enoch Tetteh A says:

    I am inspired by the information given. I have just completed high school and getting ready to go to university. What must i do to become a very good architect.

  2. DUDYE says:

    Hi Enoch,

    Great question! The best architects have always understood the concept of demand and supply. Study marketplaces and the activity that is within them. Ask yourself questions such as what are people in demand of today, for example what are they talking about in forums and magazines, and most importantly what demands are not being fulfilled. By standing for a specific niche in the design market and becoming the expert at it you’ll catch people’s interest.

    One inspiring advice can be taken from architect Thomas Wiscombe who says that it’s always important to behave “as if”:

    “… I do think it is important to always behave “as if”, by which I mean, behave as if everything I design will be built, as if my little office was a big office, as if I can compete with the gorillas in my field, as if it were just a matter of time before I get a significant commission. Otherwise you become a victim of self-fulfilling prophecy... ”

    …or Architect George Papadopoulos’ reliance on strategy:
    “Strategy is of primary importance because it helps you to state your own beliefs and objectives, study the market, and then concentrate on creating something unique. My strategy is my philosophy. I need a philosophy so that my clients always know what to expect from me. This is the only way to build trust.”

    Clients want to know that the architect they’re giving an assignment to will understand what their wishes are (sometimes even better than the client can formulate them) and then being able to give the architect the responsibility to create whatever is wanted. Being organized and having clear goals help make a good architect.

    Architects Anna Nakamura & Taiyo Jinno explains that to become a good architect, you need to investigate previous works and truly understand their meaning and value in society:
    “It is important to look at a lot of architecture. Not only just today’s contemporary architecture. Look at as much architecture as you can from the West, the East, all over the world. Look at everything from antiquity to the present. More than learning history, rather understand the power lurking inside that architecture and feel its importance.”

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