Focus and Group Dynamics Define the Thinking

Focus defines the input of information that defines the thinking, and by that, the conclusions, solutions or opinions derived from it. In a schedule: information (A) is semi-processed in a funnel (A,B,C) of biases, assumptions and conditions to a logical solution, opinion or conclusion (C). Area A is the focus area, the area where the perception of the problem takes place.

Mindmap presentatie Ideathons
Perception defines the thinking pattern

The focus area attracts facts, assessments, experiences, data, etc. that organizes itself in a thinking pattern that in itself accelerate the thinking like in a kind of Venturi tube.

450px-Venturi5.svg
The static pressure in the first measuring tube (1) is higher than at the second (2), and the fluid speed at “1” is lower than at “2”, because the cross-sectional area at “1” is greater than at “2”.

Choosing the focus  – or Point of Entry for the thinking – is quiet problematic. The focus area (A) is most vulnerable for perception errors. It defines the thinking funnel that nearly automatically leads to a predefined end result of the thinking. This phenomenon is also called cognitive bias.

Cognitive biases can be organized into four categories: biases that arise from too much information, not enough meaning, the need to act quickly, and the limits of memory. Wikipedia lists over 200 biases.
1024px-the_cognitive_bias_codex_-_1802b_biases2c_designed_by_john_manoogian_iii_28jm329
Lots of biases that can make the thinking wrong

In groups the focus area becomes even more complicated. Participants have each their own individual biases and standard thinking patterns and tend  to modify the available information to fit in.

confusie
Confusion of thinking patterns arise in groups

At first sight you might think that the variety of thinking patterns would lessen thinking errors caused by biases. However, group dynamics prevent that.  This is also the biggest shortcoming of brainstorming. In an image: many great ideas (left) but the biggest man with the most boring idea wins (right):

 

 

To conclude: choosing the focus for the thinking is vulnerable for cognitive biases and group dynamics. Both aspects of thinking are highly neglected.

More about Focus: Focus, Questions about Questions and A More Beautiful Question.  More about collaborative thinking and group dynamics: Thinking like Kickboxing Remedies for Groupthink and Parallel Thinking

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