Current research

I’m currently working on a few things:

Using issue maps to drive innovation

The cognitive process that results in creating a new idea is complex. But that doesn’t mean that it should be an ‘art’ that some people are inexplicable good at. I’m interested in how we can us a formal, logical process to help generate new ideas. One way to do this is to leverage issue trees: trees already help break down a problem space into discrete segments and make apparent ideas that weren’t initially visible. But how can we further use issue trees to generate additional ideas?

Triathlon training

One of my main contention is that adopting a structured approach is beneficial to solving any complex problem. Some problems, however, are more challenging to structure than others.

For instance, tasks that involve human components usually fall in this challenging category, because it is difficult to separate branches in truly independent ways. An example is sport training.

François Modave and I are starting a research project on the value of adopting a formally structured approach to triathlon training. If you are a triathlete interested in improving your race performance, please take a moment to fill out the attached questionnaire. We’ll use your answer to refine our approach and, eventually, roll out our conclusions to help people understand how they can get the most return on their investment.

The issue tree shows how a triathlete can improve their performance in various ways

A solution issue tree / issue map looking at the various way in which a triathlete can improve performance

Putting it all together

While my triathlon training project is about breaking down a complex problem, this project is about understanding how people approach problem solving from different angles. Psychologists are interested in it. So are physicians, and scientists, and engineers. In fact, most knowledge areas—and, probably, all—are talking about problem solving. But they don’t necessarily talk to each other. What can we learn if we listen to them all?

Becoming better problem solvers

This website is about helping people become problem solvers. At that intersection of problem solving and education, I’m also looking at integrating problem-solving training in structured ways, say through the education of university students and executives. How should we train the next generation of, say, engineers?

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