First a story and then a question for you to think about.
It seems that Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a camping trip. They pitched their tent under the stars and then went to sleep. In the middle of the night Holmes awakened and exclaimed, “Watson, look up and tell me what you deduce.” Watson opened his eyes, and said, “I see billions and billions of stars. It’s likely that some of these stars have planetary systems. Furthermore, I deduce that there is probably oxygen on some of these planets, and it’s possible that life has developed on a few of them.” Is that what you see? Holmes replied, “No, you idiot. Somebody stole our tent!”
This humorous story brings to light an important idea, namely, the obvious can sometimes be difficult to see. Like Dr. Watson in the above story, we bring in our own agendas, biases, and filters.
I think most of us would agree that when we're solving problems or developing concepts, it's important to understand the "obvious" elements of those problems and concepts.
Lately I've been engaged in a product-naming process. As I've been doing this, a question I've been puzzling over is:
One strategy that I employ is to step back from the issue and ask myself, "What are the most obvious things I can say about this issue?" Another is to ask, "What's my blind spot?"
Yet these approaches feel unsatisfactory. They work sometimes, but often I feel like I'm blathering on like Dr. Watson. That's because it's not always easy to be aware of my biases.
So here's my question for you: When you're in a situation (especially problem-solving, concept-developing), what questions do you ask that help you grasp the obvious aspects of that situation? I'd really like to hear your ideas.