Simple yet powerful method to better understand things!
If you want to solve a problem, or create really awesome things, or better understand something, a good place to start is with the underlying principles. That is, the really base level ideas which are the foundation of whatever it is you are working with.
That sounds great in theory but actually discovering those underlying principles is something often much easier said than done.
This is where Concept Triptychs come in. They are a very simple means to help better understand something.
A triptych is a piece of art, composed of 3 different sections. A Concept Triptych is 3 simple diagrams, each portraying a different stage or version of an idea or concept. Label each diagram with it's stage or version and also label the entire triptych with the idea or concept.
There are a few simple rules to follow for the diagrams:
Here is an example for the concept of Education:
The point of the diagrams is to illustrate or model flow. The dots represent entities (they could be physical things but don't necessarily have to be). The lines describe the flowing of something. What is flowing could be many things. It could be knowledge, effort, people etc. Illustrating the flow of a particular resource is often the best way to understand or discover the underlying principles.
You should create the diagrams such that the dots and lines represent the same entities across all 3 diagrams.
In the above diagrams, for example, the dots respresent topics the students are studying and the lines represent their expanding knowledge and ability.
Picking the stages or versions (what 3 models we wish to describe) may seem easy but often can benefit from taking a bit more time to think about it. Some approaches we could take include:
But these are just a few examples to get you started. You will probably come up with better stages, more suited to your particular area or problem.
You will also notice that I have avoided average in my stages. I have gone with either:
If you want to use average as one of your stages then that is perfectly fine but personally I find it better to put more of a focus on the positive extremes. If you are undertaking these types of exercises it is typically because you want to achieve greatness. If you want to achieve greatness then you need to avoid average. There is often much better understanding to be gained from venturing as far away from average as possible. The point of this activity is discovery and understanding so we want to get as far out of our comfort zone as possible.
In order to create the most elegant solutions to a problem, it helps to understand the underlying principle of the problem. That is, to grasp what is at the heart of the problem. When you create solutions from the point of view of the underlying principle of the problem, they are often cleaner and more effective.
A large part of problem solving is discovery. This is the part that Concept Triptychs help with.
Concept Triptychs introduce a different way of looking at the problem or topic. One in which you are very limited in terms of how you may describe it. Because your language (dots, lines and arrows) is so simple, you are forced to craft your description in a very basic way. You are forced to get to the heart of the problem, the essence of it, as you are not allowed to add any detail or specifics on top.
Doing this is not easy, so don't be surprised if your first attempts aren't quite right. The value in Concept Triptychs is how they get you to ponder the problem or topic.
Here are some questions to help you get started on your journey of discovery:
Concept Triptychs are very flexible in how they are used. They are also great starting points for generating discussion or questions. Here are some ideas for how you may use them:
But these are just starting ideas. I'm sure you will come up with more opportunities for Concept Triptychs once you get more experience with them.
Apart from the basics, 3 stages, diagrams are made up of lines, arrows and dots only, you have a lot of flexibility in terms of how you use Concept Triptychs. Here are a few tips to help get the most out of them:
Here are a few more examples of Concept Triptychs to give you an idea of where you can go with them.
(The dots represent people and the lines are their effort. Toxic: everyone is going in their own direction. Productive: everyone is pulling in the same direction. Dynamic: They are tending in one direction but exploring others and supporting each other.)
(The dots are the subject or inspiration and the art itself. The lines represent influence. Boring: the art is a replica of the subject. Interesting: the art combines several subjects. Provoking: the art also uses itself as inspiration and has an impact on the subject.)
(The dots are the piece of technology and what you are trying to achieve with it. The lines represent the use of the technology. Fad: the technology seems useful but doesn't actually achieve. Useful: the technology achieves things but with a bit of tweaking. Awesome: the technology directly achieves outcomes.)
(These are obviously just my opinions on these. Most likely yours will vary.)
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