Archive for January, 2018

Assessing “The Polysolver”

January 11, 2018

Thirty-five years ago, Donald J. Noone, Phd. invented a teaching tool formed as a clear-plastic palm-size polyhedron (dodecahedron) with questions and information printed on it to help the user solve problems and enhance his or her creative thinking. He called it The Polysolver. Dr. Noone also authored books including Creative Problem Solving, a thesis suggesting how to enhance problem solving ability by using various techniques such as: mind-mapping, association, quantum-leap thinking, and turning problems into provocative questions. The book is out of print now and the teaching tool is no longer available, but I recently stumbled on a Polysolver, micro-stamped “Made in France.” I could not help but wonder why it disappeared from the retail marketplace not many years after its introduction in 1983, so I put it under the Noetitek™ “microscope” for a post mortem examination.

Each face of this intriguing three-inch-diameter artifact, composed of twelve pentagonal faces, displays a directive, except for one face which provides instructions for using the actionable ideas presented on the others. This side says: The Polysolver, and it gives these instructions: Write problem as a question. Run problem through each side. Do not limit thinking. Write down solutions. Go for quantity. Do not criticize any idea. Evaluate each idea by time, cost, ease, effect, risk. Choose best ideas and prioritize. List steps and deadlines for each. Do it.

The eleven directives:

Compare—My problem (x) to anything (y): (x) is like (y). List the characteristics of (y). What do they suggest to solve my problem? Make a list of words. Ask what ideas do each suggest? Or, do two lists side by side and randomly pair words for ideas.

Reorganize—In what ways could the elements be set up differently? Rearranged? Rescheduled? Could I start at the end? Do just the opposite? From inside out? Rotated? What would be a surprise or unexpected?

Streamline—In what ways could I make it leaner? Smoother? More direct? What are the “precious” things that have outlived their usefulness? What could be eliminated? Compressed? Bypassed? Prioritized? Ignored?

Combine—What two or more things, if joined, would make something new? People? Products? Technologies? Services? Materials? Functions? Organizations? Inventions? Ideas? Goals? What connections could be made?

Increase—In what ways could I speed up? Magnify? Amplify? Add value? Multiply? 10 x my result? Put more sizzle in it? Raise the quality? Make it more appealing? More visible? More profitable? More…?

Adapt—How could I use what works elsewhere? Copy? Imitate? Make fit, if modified? How have others solved this or similar problems? How could I turn my problem into an opportunity?

Reduce—In what ways could I minimize? Soften? Make smaller? Condense? Slow down? Subtract? Divide? Break up? Lower the cost? Remove obstacles? Decrease? Shorten? Trim? Discount? Dilute? Lighten?

Replace—What other materials could be used instead? Methods? Procedures? Processes? Markets? Machines? Technologies? Suppliers? Locations? Persons? Incentives? Targets? Strategies?

Change—How could I change the meaning? Color? Shape? Appearance? Setting? Attitudes? Habits? Rules? Rewards? Priorities? Differentiate it? Persuade others? Improve it? Improve my service? What if…?

Standardize—What one thing could be used with many variations? Made more desirable? Repeated? How could the frequency of the customized or special be reduced? Handled more effectively? Express-lined?

Other Uses—What else could it be used for? New markets? Products? Services? If modified? Customized? Made portable? Spin offs? In other fields? What needs are unfilled? Individual? Family? Organizational? Others?

All the actionable ideas listed have practical utility; it was not for lack of that quality that The Polysolver was discontinued. Nonetheless, inspection of the list using Noetitek™ reveals incompleteness, some redundancy, and, most important for us: the fact that the full spectrum of creation principles is not represented. Therefore, to use those eleven concepts alone means impeding full-spectrum creative thinking and missing a lot of golden opportunities. A few ideas that could be added to a schema of this nature, without giving much thought, are: Revolutionize, and Separate. The one that we would eliminate is Change, considering that all but one of the ideas on the list already represent a type of change.

Improving The Polysolver in keeping with Dr. Noone’s system would require a much larger polyhedron and the use of two hands, whereas a Noetitek™ teaching tool could be rendered upon the faces of a smaller dodecahedron and be complete in terms of bringing all facets of primal power to bear on fulfillment of desire. In “Critique of Popular Meta-tools,” posted at the inception of this blog, in February 2009, we reported that we have examined numerous meta-tools over many years and none allows for the achievement of top-quality results available through using Noetitek™’s cabinet of tools; yet, during the 1980s The Polysolver was among the best available.

In applying our mind-tools, we prefer not looking at situations as problems to be solved but as useful launchpads for creating new and more satisfying experiences. Desirable situations are as worthy of scrutiny as undesirable situations for those attracted to the leading edge of life. To approach something as a problem is to see it through the two-fisted filter of lack and limitation that blacken the inner eyes and bar creative insight.

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