Monday, April 27, 2009

Notes on Pragmatic Thinking and Learning

Andy Hunt has written a good book on thinking and learning. It contains light reading about how our minds work. Here are some gems from it. This is by no means a review of the book it is just my notes on things that I had not heard before or felt I needed to remind myself of.

Always consider the context.

Nothing happens out of context. Nothing! There is no objective truth.

Learn by synthesis as well as by analysis.

This is learning by doing instead of by studying. Instead of dissecting a frog, try to build one, to figure out how it works.

Every read is a write!

This has to do with our thinking and it means is that every thought we think affect our brains and thus all the rest of our thoughts. No wonder thinking positively has profound effects on us.

Our brain works in two modes, linear and holistic.

To take advantage of the holistic part we need to defocus and allow the “back” of our brain to do its work. The R-mode as the holistic part is called cannot verbalize its thoughts and we are therefore forced to use the L-mode to be able to talk about the ideas that R-mode may have come up with. Beware that details may be lost in the process.

Are you making a logical argument, an emotional one or just a familiar one?

It is an interesting question to ponder every time you get into an argument.

SQ3R – Scan, Question, Read, Recite, Review

To get the most out of a book, use SQ3R.

It is by logic we prove; it is by intuition we discover. —Henri Poincaré

It is important to acknowledge that the seed to our knowledge have nothing to do with logic at all.

You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there. —Yogi Berra

Set goals!

SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-boxed

Goals that are not SMART are visions, important in the large, but they need to be complemented with SMART goals.

Documenting is as important as documentation.

Writing documentation brings out problems and clarifies what the code or product is supposed to do. The insights from this process may greatly improve it.

Establish rules of engagement to manage interruptions.

Since context-switching is very expensive it is very important for teams to have clear rules for when, where and why anyone can be disturbed.

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