Pragmatic or problem-solving creative thinking-verse-Artistic creativity

-Utilizing both types of creative thinking is where some of the most powerful ideas come from. Architecture is a field where both artistic and pragmatic creativity blend beautifully, as seen in the works of famous architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Antoni Gaudi.

Organizing Change


Pragmatism is what I call the “moving without tripping” approach, meaning that one should look at the currently available paths and find the one that seems to be the most feasible given current constraints/opportunities. Pragmatists, at least in the organizing context, focus on current conditions and endeavors to make the most out of them possible. In general, ideology is not as important as achieving realistic accomplishments for pragmatic methodologies.


Visioning is what I call the “moving towards the stars” approach, meaning that one should look for the highest potential and aiming for paths that create completely new futures. Visionaries, at least in the organizing context, focus on future conditions and how to make them reality. In general, practicality is not as important as ensuring significant changes occur in peoples’ lives.

While keeping our dreams in our plans must continue to be done, that does not mean that we can act as if that dream can be made swiftly or easily (i.e. change is not impossible, but it can be difficult). Therefore, visionary modes should take care to “sweat the small stuff” and have tangible goals to reach their visions.

Pragmatic language impairment

Pragmatic language impairment (PLI), or social (pragmatic) communication disorder (SCD), is an impairment in understanding pragmatic aspects of language. This type of impairment was previously called semantic-pragmatic disorder (SPD). People with these impairments have special challenges with the semantic aspect of language (the meaning of what is being said) and the pragmatics of language (using language appropriately in social situations). It is assumed that those with autism have difficulty with "the meaning of what is being said" due to different ways of responding to social situations.

PLI is now a diagnosis in DSM-5, and is called social (pragmatic) communication disorder. Communication problems are also part of the autism spectrum disorders (ASD); however, the latter also show a restricted pattern of behavior, according to behavioral psychology. The diagnosis SCD can only be given if ASD has been ruled out.[1]

Theory of Mind and Perspective Taking

Theory of Mind is the ability to not only understand that people have different beliefs, motivations, knowledge and moods but also understand how that affects their actions and behavior as well as our own. Theory of Mind is a necessary component of perspective taking.

Perspective taking refers to our ability to relate to others. It is our ability to perceive someone else’s thoughts, feelings, and motivations. In other words it refers to our ability to empathize with someone else and see things from their perspective.

Most people can intuitively tell how someone else feels in a conversation. When they speak to someone who’s looking around and not paying attention, they perceive the person is not interested in the conversation or is distracted for some reason. They know if they see tears in the person’s eyes that the person is upset.

Not a Sign of Intelligence
Someone with Theory of Mind Impairment will also have poor perspective taking skills. They will miss many of these cues. In some cases they may miss all of these cues. As with many other factors contributing to social skills deficits, one can be of gifted intelligence and not have effective perspective taking skills.

Theory of Mind and Perspective taking skills begin to develop in the womb and continue throughout our lives. A newborn child should try to imitate facial expressions within the first few weeks of life. This is quickly followed by pointing, the development of language and joint attention by twelve months.

By age two, the ability to understand what is in the mind of others and that they are different with their own needs and desires. Children at this age are learning how to “get their way” through give and take as well as manipulation. They are also becoming aware of other’s efforts to manipulate their behavior and are developing strategies for dealing with such attempts.

Children who have difficulty understanding the motivations of themselves or others have some level of perspective taking dysfunction. This is also true of children who have difficulty developing strategies for give and take.

These children will continue to have difficulty with social situations throughout their lives. Social Skills Therapy is necessary.-whereicanbeme.com

The pragmatic user we are to consider has, like all other human beings, been processing information automatically from babyhood without any specific education on the subject. He will be able to tackle a vast range of problems such as crossing the road, reading a newspaper, playing games, carrying out his normal employment, etc. The most notable feature of his inbuilt information processing capability is its extreme flexibility and its ability to deal with novel situations. On the other hand he started to learn simple arithmetic at the age of 5 or earlier and after 10 years intensive indoctrination will have left school without, in many cases, achieving a pass in a-level mathematics. Apart from simple weights, measures and prices he never uses any of it. In fact he will probably have a distinct inferiority complex about mathematics and may be unhappy about anything that requires him to use an overt mathematical technique. Even worse he will be mystified by anything which assumes ability to analyse a problem in abstract terms.-trapped-by-the-box.blogspot.com

What is your thinking style?

Every individual has a unique thinking style. This style determines how we interpret the world around us; how we make decisions, solve problems, plan for our future and connect with other people in the world. How can we aim to develop our thinking skills without first knowing where we stand and how we usually think? This kind of self-knowledge and self-awareness is a crucial step in our personal and professional journeys to become better and more wholesome thinkers and leaders.

Detail-Oriented vs. Bigger Picture

Whenever you are thinking about something, do you typically think about a lot of details, calculations, numbers or do you prefer to simplify the picture and look at it from some distance. For example, a detailed oriented person likes to check the itemized calls in a phone bill but a big picture person only looks at the balance and if it’s the same as previous months, doesn’t look any further. In real life, detailed oriented thinkers are better analysts while big picture thinkers are better strategists. Which approach is your typical or predominant tendency?

Pragmatic vs. visionary

These two types are not necessarily at odds with each other. But putting them in one spectrum may help you with this assignment. A pragmatic person bases his or her thoughts on the realities at present and wants to make decisions or offer solutions that are immediately applicable and executable. While a visionary-type person doesn’t care much about the present and is good in imagining what future may look like and shares his or her proposed way to get there. Are you a pragmatic thinker or a visionary?

Absolute vs. relative

Some people think better when the choices are more defined, differences are like black and white, and there is more certainty in the assumptions being made. On the other hand, relative-minded individuals are comfortable thinking in an uncertain frame of mind, with lots of shades of grey and not being sure about the certainty of the options or assumptions. Are you an absolute thinker or a relative thinker?

Inside or outside of the box

An inside the box thinker likes to see his or her options and choose from them. He or she accepts the assumptions and the rules of the game and is quick in coming up with an answer given the reality of the situations or data at hand. An outside of the box thinker doesn’t typically look at the choices at hand. He or she challenges the basic assumptions and proposes solutions or answers not thought of before. As an example, if a few scientists are working on sending an astronaut to the space station to do some repairs and are evaluating the shuttle option versus using a rocket, an outside of the box thinker is thinking about sending a self-repairing robotic module to the orbit. In your life, are you more comfortable with inside the box type of thinking or outside of it?

Areas of thinking

Some people are better in making decisions, some are better with finding solutions and some have a talent in being creative. The areas of thinking are numerous and the majority of people are not consistently strong in all of them. There must be some areas that you might be better at and some areas that we may need some improvement. Think about yours and find out which area(s) you have more strengths in and how you can illustrate that with some examples and stories. Are you known for your wisdom, creativity, quick answers, diplomacy or else?

To end this Thinking Hour with a tangible output, create 1-3 drawings or charts that represent your unique style of thinking and describe them in a couple of sentences. Tell us in the comment box how it went and what you discovered about yourself.


MacGyver is Back! Creativity and Design Thinking

When I think about the Design Thinking principal “Constraint Foster Creativity”, I immediately think about MacGyver.

The bad thing about MacGyver is that if you know MacGyver it means you are not that young. MacGyver is the star of a tv show in the 90s, he always get in big troubles but he finds creative ways to get out of it. For example, he is stuck in a meat cold room, however by using tools around him (thinking “inside the box”) and he finds always a way to escape, he is a sort of pragmatic Houdini. For the nostalgics , watch the theme song here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKTNWI0eYJ4

So how is this related to the design thinking principal “Constraint foster creativity” ? Well If MacGyver was sitting on his coach in front of the TV eating popcorns, he will never be able to imagine a way to escape from a meat cold room, but once he is under constraints and pressure and stuck in a dangerous situation, he gets really focused, creative and he finds an innovative solution.

Constraints are exactly what early stage startups are going through, they have little cash and minimum resources but because of that situation they come up with creative solutions to overcome their constraints. In big corporations, we have less constraints, bigger budgets, more resources and I would say that sometimes this is a curse for innovation, these resources usually don’t help us to become creative.

We can see many example around us where constraints foster creativity, for example countries that have a lot of constraints like no access to natural resources, security challenges, extreme weather.  However some of these countries became the top innovators in different domains like Singapore leader in finance and ports, Israel in the high tech, cyber security and military, South Korea the automobile manufacturing and electronics giant, Japan leader in high quality products, Ireland with new incentive models to attract services companies.  These countries had to overcome their daily challenges and they used their brain to survive and excel.

In the Ideation phase of the Design Thinking process, when I coach a Design Thinking workshop, I often try to create artificial constraints so the workshop participants can focus and become creative. For example if you are dealing with an old product/process/service that you need to innovate, try to remove the most important piece in this product/process/service and then try to find a solution for making it works without this important piece. Maybe this is what Apple did in the past, maybe they took the best smart phone at the time, that was the blackberry. And maybe they asked to themselves, what was the most important piece of the blackberry? Most of us will say the physical keyboard. Then they remove the physical keyboard from the blackberry (We create a constraint) and  they tried to imagine a new phone with no keyboard… yes touch screen, yes iPhone !

Many other type of exercise that create constraints can also be applied in the ideation phase of Design Thinking.

So lets remember that constraints are good, it helps us to analyze and understand the problem, it creates boundaries to focus our thinking so we can successfully overcome them.

We miss you MacGyver !