Three Ways of Learning
I think there are 3 fundamental ways of learning and classical education systems are disproportionally focused on two of them, ignoring the third, which is, in many ways, much more effective and can lead to deeper understanding.
The 3 ways are:

1. Learning by being explained
This is the kind of detached, abstract learning that dominates most of the classrooms today. The premise of this approach is that desired output of the learning process is that a particular model of the object being learnt is copied from the mind of the instructor (in the form of a person, a textbook or a computer program) to the mind of the student.
A clear benefit of this approach is that the more people have a shared understanding (i.e. model) of the object - the more they all will be able to communicate, draw same conclusions and operate predictably.
There are many drawbacks to this approach though. Two most significant ones are:
Knowledge remains abstract and so doesn’t stick too well. It only engages frontal lobe and memory centers, while the rest of the brain and the body are left disengaged.
The question of why this particular model is chosen, what are its limitations and so forth are largely left outside the scope of the education process. Breaking out of the model is nearly impossible for the student later on.


2. Learning by doing
This is a kind of hands-on, applied learning that young children practice naturally and that increasingly gets traction in many classrooms and work environments. The basic premise here is that the desired output of the learning process is acquiring experience with the object of learning and through that experience developing some understanding of how it works. This understanding can then manifest in the form of an abstract model.
The benefits here are that you as a student get to experience the object, play with it, feel it, stretch and squeeze it, break it and rebuild it. You get to engage your sensory and motor skills and develop your own understanding of what this object is and how it works. Abstract models, built on the basis of experience are now seen for what they are: models, not the objects themselves.
The drawbacks are that it takes much longer and the resulting understanding can vary significantly from student to student, depending on their individual experiences with the object. That makes it harder for us to predict how students will operate in the future.


3. Learning by becoming
Finally there a third way, which is almost ignored in most of the formal learning environments today. The idea of “Learning by Becoming” is simple: if you want to learn how something works - become it. It may sound strange, impossible or counter-intuitive to start with, but makes a lot of sense if you think about it. After all, from evolutionary standpoint, our learning ability has not evolved for us to be able to grasp theoretical concepts or even for us to be able to use tools. It has evolved for us to be able to adapt to different environments and situations quickly, which means that we are ought to be much more able to grasp our own environment, its limitations, the degrees of freedom and possible behaviors than the inner workings of something or somebody else.
Here are three examples of how the idea of “Learning by Becoming” has been used in the past:
Seymour Papert - Play the Turtle
When in the late 1960s mathematician Seymour Papert was trying to teach children (both ordinary children and the ones with special needs) how to think better (mostly applying his thinking to math education), he invented Logo, the first programming language, designed specifically to teach the fundamentals of “computer thinking”. The basic logic of most of Logo programs is focused on controlling a real or imaginary robot (The Turtle), moving it around and making it do and draw things. Of many things that Papert discovered in his work, one of the most profound was that abstract concepts that were hard for kids to grasp, became obvious if only they “Played the Turtle”, i.e. put the pen and paper (or keyboard) aside and “Became Turtle” for a few minutes: doing what needs to be programmed into the robot themselves and analyzing what the sequence of their actions they were taking.
You can read more about Papert’s work and experiences in his seminal book, Mindstorms.
Temple Grandin - Thinking like a Cow
When in the 1970s the livestock industry was struggling with the question of how to improve the efficiency and quality of the process of slaughtering cows, they were having a hard time, because the designs took into account the anatomy of cows, but not what it’s like to be a cow. Then Temple Grandin came in and using personal experiences related to her severe Autism, managed to “become a cow”, start thinking like a cow and through that radically improve the efficiency of the industry and the wellbeing of the animals at the same time. While everybody else was looking at blueprints, she jumped into the corridor that cows have to go through before they are slaughtered and found out that the sounds and lights there were scary - so they made cows afraid and unwilling to move forward. Based on her experiences of “thinking like a cow” she proposed design changes that made a big difference in the industry and in the animal welfare.
To learn more - dive into the BBC Documentary about Temple Grandin and read her book.
Jaron Lanier - Be a Molecule
When in the 1980s Jaron Lanier was beginning to explore immersive virtual reality (VR) and its possible applications, he accidentally stumbled upon an interesting phenomenon: even if the avatar that a person is transformed into in the context of VR is deformed (e.g. has a hand the size of a building), people are still capable of learning how to operate it in almost no time. What’s even more interesting is that the same holds true even if the avatar is structurally different from the “player”, for example has extra limbs. Back then the movement of extra limbs if your avatar is lobster was controlled by extrapolated data from parts of the player’s real limbs. Now it’s possible to control it directly by the brain. Collaborating with progressive educators, Jaron then utilized this idea to teach people in a different way: students that wanted to know more about the structure of certain molecules, for example, were “transformed” into those molecules, so that they could experience the degrees of freedom and the environment better. They could all of a sudden feel what it’s like to be a molecule. It became “self-evident” why molecules can connect in a certain way, but not in a any other way.
You can learn more about Jaron’s work from his inspiring talk at the Learning Without Frontier’s conference.
In all three examples above, what we see is that empathy and whole-body immersion into the object of learning allows people to develop long-lasting intuitions about the object itself, from its own standpoint. These intuitions can then lead into more formal understanding of the object’s behavior and the models that can describe it best in different circumstances. It’s not too far-reaching to assume that immersion, especially multi-user social immersion into the object of learning can lead to real scientific discoveries. Think of the protein connections and DNA transcription, for example. How deeply would biology students manage to understand it if they had a collective, immersive VR experience of trying to do that themselves, each student “role-playing” a different enzyme involved?
First-hand knowledge, developed through becoming the object of learning - will probably be way more sticky than a purely conceptual one. Think of how once you’ve learnt how to ride a bicycle, you will never forget it. One can speculate that this is partly because when learning how to ride a bike, you and your bike become one thing and this one thing needs to balance as a whole.
The major drawback of “Learning by Becoming” is that most often the simulations and immersive experiences are themselves based on certain models, and so the strong “first-hand” intuitions developed through these immersive experiences may not always represent reality accurately.
Still the potential is huge, especially as Virtual Reality technologies are marching ahead and our ability to simulate the world is getting better. After all, even simulations based on very crude models can lead to new profound understandings about how the more complex real world system behave. Think, for example, of Lorenz’s discovery of of the foundations of the Chaos Theory that happened when he was working through an astonishingly crude simulation of the world’s weather, using not more than a dozen of simplistic equations.
The bottom line is that there is a massive opportunity for education: we can help students make the leap from just conceptual understanding to deeper holistic understanding and help them develop real multi-sensory intuitions, by adopting the “Learning by Becoming” approach and adding it to the mix of the different ways in which we foster learning.
If you want to truly learn something - you have to become it first.
Editable Google Slide: http://goo.gl/cpy7T7
Printable PDF: http://goo.gl/4ynUPk

Three Ways of Learning

I think there are 3 fundamental ways of learning and classical education systems are disproportionally focused on two of them, ignoring the third, which is, in many ways, much more effective and can lead to deeper understanding.

The 3 ways are:

1. Learning by being explained

This is the kind of detached, abstract learning that dominates most of the classrooms today. The premise of this approach is that desired output of the learning process is that a particular model of the object being learnt is copied from the mind of the instructor (in the form of a person, a textbook or a computer program) to the mind of the student.

A clear benefit of this approach is that the more people have a shared understanding (i.e. model) of the object - the more they all will be able to communicate, draw same conclusions and operate predictably.

There are many drawbacks to this approach though. Two most significant ones are:

  • Knowledge remains abstract and so doesn’t stick too well. It only engages frontal lobe and memory centers, while the rest of the brain and the body are left disengaged.
  • The question of why this particular model is chosen, what are its limitations and so forth are largely left outside the scope of the education process. Breaking out of the model is nearly impossible for the student later on.

2. Learning by doing

This is a kind of hands-on, applied learning that young children practice naturally and that increasingly gets traction in many classrooms and work environments. The basic premise here is that the desired output of the learning process is acquiring experience with the object of learning and through that experience developing some understanding of how it works. This understanding can then manifest in the form of an abstract model.

The benefits here are that you as a student get to experience the object, play with it, feel it, stretch and squeeze it, break it and rebuild it. You get to engage your sensory and motor skills and develop your own understanding of what this object is and how it works. Abstract models, built on the basis of experience are now seen for what they are: models, not the objects themselves.

The drawbacks are that it takes much longer and the resulting understanding can vary significantly from student to student, depending on their individual experiences with the object. That makes it harder for us to predict how students will operate in the future.

3. Learning by becoming

Finally there a third way, which is almost ignored in most of the formal learning environments today. The idea of “Learning by Becoming” is simple: if you want to learn how something works - become it. It may sound strange, impossible or counter-intuitive to start with, but makes a lot of sense if you think about it. After all, from evolutionary standpoint, our learning ability has not evolved for us to be able to grasp theoretical concepts or even for us to be able to use tools. It has evolved for us to be able to adapt to different environments and situations quickly, which means that we are ought to be much more able to grasp our own environment, its limitations, the degrees of freedom and possible behaviors than the inner workings of something or somebody else.

Here are three examples of how the idea of “Learning by Becoming” has been used in the past:


Seymour Papert - Play the Turtle

When in the late 1960s mathematician Seymour Papert was trying to teach children (both ordinary children and the ones with special needs) how to think better (mostly applying his thinking to math education), he invented Logo, the first programming language, designed specifically to teach the fundamentals of “computer thinking”. 
The basic logic of most of Logo programs is focused on controlling a real or imaginary robot (The Turtle), moving it around and making it do and draw things. 
Of many things that Papert discovered in his work, one of the most profound was that abstract concepts that were hard for kids to grasp, became obvious if only they “Played the Turtle”, i.e. put the pen and paper (or keyboard) aside and “Became Turtle” for a few minutes: doing what needs to be programmed into the robot themselves and analyzing what the sequence of their actions they were taking.

You can read more about Papert’s work and experiences in his seminal book, Mindstorms.


Temple Grandin - Thinking like a Cow

When in the 1970s the livestock industry was struggling with the question of how to improve the efficiency and quality of the process of slaughtering cows, they were having a hard time, because the designs took into account the anatomy of cows, but not what it’s like to be a cow. 
Then Temple Grandin came in and using personal experiences related to her severe Autism, managed to “become a cow”, start thinking like a cow and through that radically improve the efficiency of the industry and the wellbeing of the animals at the same time. While everybody else was looking at blueprints, she jumped into the corridor that cows have to go through before they are slaughtered and found out that the sounds and lights there were 
scary - so they made cows afraid and unwilling to move forward. 
Based on her experiences of “thinking like a cow” she proposed design changes that made a big difference in the industry and in the animal welfare.

To learn more - dive into the BBC Documentary about Temple Grandin and read her book.


Jaron Lanier - Be a Molecule

When in the 1980s Jaron Lanier was beginning to explore immersive virtual reality (VR) and its possible applications, he accidentally stumbled upon an interesting phenomenon: even if the avatar that a person is transformed into in the context of VR is deformed (e.g. has a hand the size of a building), people are still capable of learning how to operate it in almost no time. What’s even more interesting is that the same holds true even if 
the avatar is structurally different from the “player”, for example has extra limbs. Back then the movement of extra limbs if your avatar is lobster was controlled by extrapolated data from parts of the player’s real limbs. Now it’s possible to control it directly by the brain. 
Collaborating with progressive educators, Jaron then utilized this idea to teach people in a different way: students that wanted to know more about the structure of certain molecules, for example, were “transformed” into those molecules, so that they could experience the degrees of freedom and the environment better. They could all of a sudden feel what it’s like to be a molecule. It became “self-evident” why molecules can connect in a certain way, but not in a any other way.

You can learn more about Jaron’s work from his inspiring talk at the Learning Without Frontier’s conference.




In all three examples above, what we see is that empathy and whole-body immersion into the object of learning allows people to develop long-lasting intuitions about the object itself, from its own standpoint. These intuitions can then lead into more formal understanding of the object’s behavior and the models that can describe it best in different circumstances. It’s not too far-reaching to assume that immersion, especially multi-user social immersion into the object of learning can lead to real scientific discoveries. Think of the protein connections and DNA transcription, for example. How deeply would biology students manage to understand it if they had a collective, immersive VR experience of trying to do that themselves, each student “role-playing” a different enzyme involved?

First-hand knowledge, developed through becoming the object of learning - will probably be way more sticky than a purely conceptual one. Think of how once you’ve learnt how to ride a bicycle, you will never forget it. One can speculate that this is partly because when learning how to ride a bike, you and your bike become one thing and this one thing needs to balance as a whole.

The major drawback of “Learning by Becoming” is that most often the simulations and immersive experiences are themselves based on certain models, and so the strong “first-hand” intuitions developed through these immersive experiences may not always represent reality accurately.

Still the potential is huge, especially as Virtual Reality technologies are marching ahead and our ability to simulate the world is getting better. 
After all, even simulations based on very crude models can lead to new profound understandings about how the more complex real world system behave. 
Think, for example, of Lorenz’s discovery of of the foundations of the Chaos Theory that happened when he was working through an astonishingly crude simulation of the world’s weather, using not more than a dozen of simplistic equations.




The bottom line is that there is a massive opportunity for education: we can help students make the leap from just conceptual understanding to deeper holistic understanding and help them develop real multi-sensory intuitions, by adopting the “Learning by Becoming” approach and adding it to the mix of the different ways in which we foster learning.

If you want to truly learn something - you have to become it first.



Editable Google Slide: http://goo.gl/cpy7T7

Printable PDF: http://goo.gl/4ynUPk

If you want your business to make more money (we are talking about revenue here, not profit), then there are only 4 ways you can go about it:
Make more people buy whatever it is that you are selling.
Make the same amount of people buy more often.
Make the same people buy more stuff every time they buy anyway.
Make them pay more money for the same stuff.
Everything we do in marketing should have effect on at least one of these 4 levers. A simple thought that too many of us, marketers, like to forget too often.
=================================
Editable Google Slide: http://goo.gl/to0DXI

If you want your business to make more money (we are talking about revenue here, not profit), then there are only 4 ways you can go about it:

  1. Make more people buy whatever it is that you are selling.
  2. Make the same amount of people buy more often.
  3. Make the same people buy more stuff every time they buy anyway.
  4. Make them pay more money for the same stuff.

Everything we do in marketing should have effect on at least one of these 4 levers. A simple thought that too many of us, marketers, like to forget too often.

=================================

Editable Google Slide: http://goo.gl/to0DXI

The pleasure and effectiveness of working together are immeasurable. 1+1 often equals way more than two. As Ray Kroc used to say, “None of us is as good as all of us”. Same can be said for “smart”, “kind” an so forth.
Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. When groups of people work together, the outcome is often not better, but worse than what any individual member of a group would be capable of doing. From dumb useless half-measures brought about by compromises to evil beyond-human crimes that only groups of people with distributed sense of responsibility are capable of - groups can be not only better than individuals, but also much worse than individuals.
Here comes arguably the most important question I have to face almost daily: what are the tasks suitable more for teams vs. individuals? How should teamwork be organized to maximize positive synergies, not negative ones? How can we, humans, be and act better together, not worse?
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Editable Google Slide: http://goo.gl/1EM5ka Printable .pdf: https://db.tt/mketdckp

The pleasure and effectiveness of working together are immeasurable. 1+1 often equals way more than two. As Ray Kroc used to say, “None of us is as good as all of us”. Same can be said for “smart”, “kind” an so forth.

Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. When groups of people work together, the outcome is often not better, but worse than what any individual member of a group would be capable of doing. From dumb useless half-measures brought about by compromises to evil beyond-human crimes that only groups of people with distributed sense of responsibility are capable of - groups can be not only better than individuals, but also much worse than individuals.

Here comes arguably the most important question I have to face almost daily: what are the tasks suitable more for teams vs. individuals? How should teamwork be organized to maximize positive synergies, not negative ones? How can we, humans, be and act better together, not worse?

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Editable Google Slide: http://goo.gl/1EM5ka 
Printable .pdf: https://db.tt/mketdckp

2 Strategies for Stress Response
Stress-related diseases claim the lives of millions of people every year. And the number is, unfortunately, only going up.
And for every person who dies because of chronic stress, there are many more who suffer and can’t enjoy their lives to the fullest.
Stress in itself is not going to make your heart fail. It’s our stress response systems that have the potential to do a lot of long-term damage. One important thing to note is that stress response systems are perfectly tuned for short-term activation (e.g. running away from a stressor) but were not built for being activated continuously and in absence of physical activity. This is why continuous worrying combined with the lack of bursts of physical activity can make you sick.
Bottom line at this point:

Worry less, Run more.


The details of how we respond to stress are even more interesting and add a second layer of complexity to the picture.
Broadly speaking, scientists have so far identified two major “strategies” for stress-response that humans employ:
Fight or Flight (Walter Cannon)
Tend and Befriend (Shelley Taylor)
Fight-or-flight, as the name suggests, assumes that you will either have to fight with the stressor (e.g. predator) or run away from it as fast as you can. Both require your muscles and heart to work harder, pain to feel less painful etc. This makes a lot of sense for the short-term, but if youturn this mode on too often or for too long, then your heart and associated systems start to wear out.
Tend and befriend, on the opposite, assumes that in order for you and your offspring to survive the stressor you need to hug your loved ones, tell them everything is going to be all right, and then try to cooperate with others so that you can all survive together. This also makes a lot of sense and while it may be less efficient in case you are alone and the lion is hunting you down it may be way more efficient in a lot of other circumstances.
The most wonderful thing is that - we all have capacity for both strategies. It’s true that there is a statistically significant gender difference: men are much more likely to rely on fight-or-flight and women on tend-and-befriend. But in reality both men and women show ability to do both.
We can combine two strategies, alterate between them depending on the circumstances and so on. Too much of any of the response strategies is probably not good, but a little bit of everything can depending on the circumstances, I believe, help us cope better with the modern kind of stress (we don’t run away from predators too often, but instead worry about our economy while on a couch too much).
Bottom line:

When in trouble (especially if you happen to be a male) double check if fight-or-flight is the right way to respond, or may be a little bit of tend-and-befriend is going to work better.


We are just scratching the surface and vastly oversimplifying here.
For much more details please check Robert Sapolsky’s excellent book “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers”.
And his Stanford Course on Human Behavioral Biology (available on Youtube) will totally blow your mind.
Editable version of this OneSlide is available as a Google Slides and you can print it from there as well:
https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/19Cl1BB85D4zvv3ltt224BHi7Nugp003GCt1_e2sy1NY/edit?usp=sharing 

2 Strategies for Stress Response

Stress-related diseases claim the lives of millions of people every year. And the number is, unfortunately, only going up.

And for every person who dies because of chronic stress, there are many more who suffer and can’t enjoy their lives to the fullest.

Stress in itself is not going to make your heart fail. It’s our stress response systems that have the potential to do a lot of long-term damage. One important thing to note is that stress response systems are perfectly tuned for short-term activation (e.g. running away from a stressor) but were not built for being activated continuously and in absence of physical activity. This is why continuous worrying combined with the lack of bursts of physical activity can make you sick.

Bottom line at this point:

Worry less, Run more.

The details of how we respond to stress are even more interesting and add a second layer of complexity to the picture.

Broadly speaking, scientists have so far identified two major “strategies” for stress-response that humans employ:

  1. Fight or Flight (Walter Cannon)
  2. Tend and Befriend (Shelley Taylor)

Fight-or-flight, as the name suggests, assumes that you will either have to fight with the stressor (e.g. predator) or run away from it as fast as you can. Both require your muscles and heart to work harder, pain to feel less painful etc. This makes a lot of sense for the short-term, but if youturn this mode on too often or for too long, then your heart and associated systems start to wear out.

Tend and befriend, on the opposite, assumes that in order for you and your offspring to survive the stressor you need to hug your loved ones, tell them everything is going to be all right, and then try to cooperate with others so that you can all survive together. This also makes a lot of sense and while it may be less efficient in case you are alone and the lion is hunting you down it may be way more efficient in a lot of other circumstances.

The most wonderful thing is that - we all have capacity for both strategies. It’s true that there is a statistically significant gender difference: men are much more likely to rely on fight-or-flight and women on tend-and-befriend. But in reality both men and women show ability to do both.

We can combine two strategies, alterate between them depending on the circumstances and so on. Too much of any of the response strategies is probably not good, but a little bit of everything can depending on the circumstances, I believe, help us cope better with the modern kind of stress (we don’t run away from predators too often, but instead worry about our economy while on a couch too much).

Bottom line:

When in trouble (especially if you happen to be a male) double check if fight-or-flight is the right way to respond, or may be a little bit of tend-and-befriend is going to work better.

We are just scratching the surface and vastly oversimplifying here.

For much more details please check Robert Sapolsky’s excellent book “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers”.

And his Stanford Course on Human Behavioral Biology (available on Youtube) will totally blow your mind.

Editable version of this OneSlide is available as a Google Slides and you can print it from there as well:

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/19Cl1BB85D4zvv3ltt224BHi7Nugp003GCt1_e2sy1NY/edit?usp=sharing 

I came across the notion of the “Circle of Empathy” in Jaron Lanier’s writing. You can get a taste of Jaron’s brilliance here: http://edge.org/conversation/one-half-a-manifesto and here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9eFZpdSeRU. Broadly speaking, the concept itself is simple: there are things (and people) you care about, and things that you don’t care about. Circle size is arbitrary. The border is blurry. A lot of what we think, feel and do can be explained or made sense of through this simple frame. One aspect of the concept though caught my attention: if asked whether you care about other people you don’t know - most of us would say yes. I definitely like to think that I care about every being in the universe and wish them all the best. Yet this caring very rarely translates into any action. I actually do (or even have potential to do) anything good or useful for very few people. The reason is - even though I care about all, I don’t really know the vast majority of them or spend time interacting with them or even thinking about them. My attention is (disproportionately) consumed by very few things or people. Which is probably good. If it was spread equally across the universe I would cease to exist. So now we have two circles: Circle of Empathy and Circle of Attention. And where they intersect - what we find is a territory that we can call Active Compassion Zone. If you care for somebody and pay a lot of attention to them at the same time - this is where you have real potential to make a difference. This (obviously oversimplified) venn diagram provokes a few interesting questions. To name a few: Why do we spend so much of our limited attention on people and things that we don’t care about? Most people, unfortunately, don’t empathise a lot with their Clients, or bosses. Yet they spend most of their lives paying attention to them. Assuming that human ability for both attention and empathy is limited, what could we do to align the circles better and thus maximize the area of active compassion? Is it true that both attention and empathy are limited resources? I.E. Is there a limited volume of attention, empathy or both? If yes - it would mean that if you spread it further and extend the reach, then you have to make it thinner. It sounds reasonable to say that if you try to pay attention to more things, each thing gets less attention. But is the same true for Empathy as well? I hope not. But that’s a different topic. If we put Buddhist concepts into the framework, then reaching Nirvana can be seen as extending both your Circle of Empathy and your Circle of Attention to the infinity. Bodhisattvas then choose to shrink their circle of Attention back to a sizeable scale and through Active Compassion start to help others. It’s beautiful when people bring what’s in the Circle of Empathy into their Circle of Attention, and vice versa. A lot of great art is doing just that. Good human-centered design can also be seen through this framework. Education has a long way to go. It’s over-focused on attention and doesn’t pay nearly enough attention to empathy. Anyway, you see where I’m going with it. I will be working hard to align my own circles better in the future. Editable Google Slide: http://goo.gl/fbqfkI

I came across the notion of the “Circle of Empathy” in Jaron Lanier’s writing.
You can get a taste of Jaron’s brilliance here: http://edge.org/conversation/one-half-a-manifesto and here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9eFZpdSeRU.

Broadly speaking, the concept itself is simple: there are things (and people) you care about, and things that you don’t care about. Circle size is arbitrary. The border is blurry.
A lot of what we think, feel and do can be explained or made sense of through this simple frame.

One aspect of the concept though caught my attention: if asked whether you care about other people you don’t know - most of us would say yes. I definitely like to think that I care about every being in the universe and wish them all the best.

Yet this caring very rarely translates into any action. I actually do (or even have potential to do) anything good or useful for very few people. The reason is - even though I care about all, I don’t really know the vast majority of them or spend time interacting with them or even thinking about them.
My attention is (disproportionately) consumed by very few things or people. Which is probably good. If it was spread equally across the universe I would cease to exist.

So now we have two circles: Circle of Empathy and Circle of Attention. And where they intersect - what we find is a territory that we can call Active Compassion Zone. If you care for somebody and pay a lot of attention to them at the same time - this is where you have real potential to make a difference.

This (obviously oversimplified) venn diagram provokes a few interesting questions. To name a few:
Why do we spend so much of our limited attention on people and things that we don’t care about? Most people, unfortunately, don’t empathise a lot with their Clients, or bosses. Yet they spend most of their lives paying attention to them.
Assuming that human ability for both attention and empathy is limited, what could we do to align the circles better and thus maximize the area of active compassion?
Is it true that both attention and empathy are limited resources? I.E. Is there a limited volume of attention, empathy or both? If yes - it would mean that if you spread it further and extend the reach, then you have to make it thinner. It sounds reasonable to say that if you try to pay attention to more things, each thing gets less attention. But is the same true for Empathy as well? I hope not. But that’s a different topic.

If we put Buddhist concepts into the framework, then reaching Nirvana can be seen as extending both your Circle of Empathy and your Circle of Attention to the infinity.
Bodhisattvas then choose to shrink their circle of Attention back to a sizeable scale and through Active Compassion start to help others.

It’s beautiful when people bring what’s in the Circle of Empathy into their Circle of Attention, and vice versa. A lot of great art is doing just that. Good human-centered design can also be seen through this framework.
Education has a long way to go. It’s over-focused on attention and doesn’t pay nearly enough attention to empathy.

Anyway, you see where I’m going with it. I will be working hard to align my own circles better in the future.

Editable Google Slide: http://goo.gl/fbqfkI

"Want" is a funny word. In reality my attitude changes depending on whether the thing that I want is in the future, in the present or in the past. After you’ve eaten too much you probably wish you haven’t. But you ordered your food while you were hungry and then you wanted to finish it all because it was too tasty. So there are 3 horizons of “want” and it’s interesting to be aware of all of them. When I am making a decision whether to do something or not - I am naturally before it and so I get biased and make decisions that in the aftermath are of no satisfaction. But if while making a decision I am aware of all the 3 horizons, then I’m likely to do better. After all, why eat this extra food now if in the “after” I will not want to have done it? Or if I know that for certain things most enjoyment comes “before” through anticipation, then why ever rush that part? Applying “Total Want” thinking has helped me make better choices on a daily basis, maximizing total satisfaction / impact from things that I buy and do, not just the immediate one. It may help you too. Editable .svg: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/552834/oneslide/OneSlide_3_Horizons_of_Want.svg Printable .pdf: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/552834/oneslide/OneSlide_3_Horizons_of_Want.pdf

"Want" is a funny word. In reality my attitude changes depending on whether the thing that I want is in the future, in the present or in the past.

After you’ve eaten too much you probably wish you haven’t. But you ordered your food while you were hungry and then you wanted to finish it all because it was too tasty.

So there are 3 horizons of “want” and it’s interesting to be aware of all of them. When I am making a decision whether to do something or not - I am naturally before it and so I get biased and make decisions that in the aftermath are of no satisfaction.

But if while making a decision I am aware of all the 3 horizons, then I’m likely to do better.

After all, why eat this extra food now if in the “after” I will not want to have done it?
Or if I know that for certain things most enjoyment comes “before” through anticipation, then why ever rush that part?

Applying “Total Want” thinking has helped me make better choices on a daily basis, maximizing total satisfaction / impact from things that I buy and do, not just the immediate one.

It may help you too.

Editable .svg: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/552834/oneslide/OneSlide_3_Horizons_of_Want.svg

Printable .pdf: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/552834/oneslide/OneSlide_3_Horizons_of_Want.pdf

Simple methodology for screening ideas, by Blueshift. It’s important to notice the ‘triple bottomline’ approach. Because both cost and impact have to be discussed not just in terms of money, but also in terms of how it will affect individual people, whole societies and the planet as well. Remix, share & build upon. Printable .pdf: https://db.tt/iC89BHFB Google slide source: http://goo.gl/o3p3ak

Simple methodology for screening ideas, by Blueshift.
It’s important to notice the ‘triple bottomline’ approach. Because both cost and impact have to be discussed not just in terms of money, but also in terms of how it will affect individual people, whole societies and the planet as well.

Remix, share & build upon.
Printable .pdf: https://db.tt/iC89BHFB
Google slide source: http://goo.gl/o3p3ak

Traditional economists think of me as of somebody who makes only rational decisions, somebody entirely driven by a brain, calculating optimal utility functions. That’s obviously far away from being true. A slightly better model would account for the fact that I have two more things on top of (or below?) the brain: 1) a body and 2) a soul. My decisions are a result of some arguments between the three of them, strongly influenced by context and chemistry inside me. This slightly better (but still oversimplified) theory helps me approach designing products, services and communications that trigger more of the driving forces behind people’s decision-making, not just one. You may find this useful as well. As always, feel free to reuse, remix & build upon. Google Slide: http://goo.gl/O3csSp PDF: https://db.tt/I5m5jLdo

Traditional economists think of me as of somebody who makes only rational decisions, somebody entirely driven by a brain, calculating optimal utility functions. That’s obviously far away from being true.

A slightly better model would account for the fact that I have two more things on top of (or below?) the brain: 1) a body and 2) a soul.
My decisions are a result of some arguments between the three of them, strongly influenced by context and chemistry inside me.

This slightly better (but still oversimplified) theory helps me approach designing products, services and communications that trigger more of the driving forces behind people’s decision-making, not just one.

You may find this useful as well.

As always, feel free to reuse, remix & build upon.

Google Slide: http://goo.gl/O3csSp
PDF: https://db.tt/I5m5jLdo

Here is a beautiful urban legend for you: Once a tribesman asked an anthropologist what the key difference was between people of their tribe and the modern, ‘civilized’ men. The anthropologist answered, that a modern man can feel one thing, think another thing and say something else altogether. The tribesman had a hard time understanding what the anthropologist meant. Once he finally got it, he said: “Oh, don’t you ever do that, my friend. You’ll get very sick very soon if you do”. I think this story should be taken more seriously by a lot of modern brands (let alone people). Too many of them have a wide gap between (a) what they feel and believe in [their heart], (b) what they think [their brain], (c) what they make [their hands] and (d) what they say [their mouth]. I wish more people and more brands spoke from their heart. Hell, I wish more brands had a heart in the first place. As a marketer, I know that more often than not, brands actually do have a heart, but they tend to forget about it too often. Then what they think, what they make and what say gets disconnected, lost and heartless. And then they get sick. ============================= As always, feel free to share, remix and build upon. Printable .pdf: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/552834/oneslide/Oneslide_Brand_anatomy.pdf Editable source .svg: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/552834/oneslide/Oneslide_Brand_anatomy.svg

Here is a beautiful urban legend for you:

Once a tribesman asked an anthropologist what the key difference was between people of their tribe and the modern, ‘civilized’ men.
The anthropologist answered, that a modern man can feel one thing, think another thing and say something else altogether.
The tribesman had a hard time understanding what the anthropologist meant. Once he finally got it, he said: “Oh, don’t you ever do that, my friend. You’ll get very sick very soon if you do”.

I think this story should be taken more seriously by a lot of modern brands (let alone people).
Too many of them have a wide gap between (a) what they feel and believe in [their heart], (b) what they think [their brain], (c) what they make [their hands] and (d) what they say [their mouth].

I wish more people and more brands spoke from their heart. Hell, I wish more brands had a heart in the first place.

As a marketer, I know that more often than not, brands actually do have a heart, but they tend to forget about it too often. Then what they think, what they make and what say gets disconnected, lost and heartless. And then they get sick.

=============================
As always, feel free to share, remix and build upon.

Printable .pdf: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/552834/oneslide/Oneslide_Brand_anatomy.pdf

Editable source .svg: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/552834/oneslide/Oneslide_Brand_anatomy.svg

This is the ultimate behavior change brief, a distilled version of everything that I’ve used over the years as a planner. (C) and (D) are important. For (C) - understanding what our Target Audience currently does (instead of doing what we want them to do) gives critical insight into what we are competing against. In today’s world we are very likely to find ourselves competing for the audience’s time, attention and money outside the category. As for (D) - understanding (or having a working hypothesis of) the drivers or circumstances that can trigger behavior change is vital. In fact if the hypothesis is right - your job is half done, since you know what you need to accomplish with your communications (or whatever else you may choose as your behavior-changing weapon). An excellent planner will give you all: (A), (B), (C) and a few options for (D). An average planner will give you just (A) and (B). But that’s good enough. You can start exploring from there. A useless planner will only give you some non-essential information about (A) and a lot of other largely useless data. Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion and in no way does it represent an opinion of any company I work for or ever worked for. Feel free to comment, remix, and reuse freely. Printable .pdf: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/552834/oneslide/Oneslide_Ultimate_behavior_change_brief.pdf Editable .svg: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/552834/oneslide/Oneslide_Ultimate_behavior_change_brief.svg

This is the ultimate behavior change brief, a distilled version of everything that I’ve used over the years as a planner.

(C) and (D) are important.

For (C) - understanding what our Target Audience currently does (instead of doing what we want them to do) gives critical insight into what we are competing against. In today’s world we are very likely to find ourselves competing for the audience’s time, attention and money outside the category.

As for (D) - understanding (or having a working hypothesis of) the drivers or circumstances that can trigger behavior change is vital. In fact if the hypothesis is right - your job is half done, since you know what you need to accomplish with your communications (or whatever else you may choose as your behavior-changing weapon).

An excellent planner will give you all: (A), (B), (C) and a few options for (D).

An average planner will give you just (A) and (B). But that’s good enough. You can start exploring from there.

A useless planner will only give you some non-essential information about (A) and a lot of other largely useless data.

Disclaimer:
This is my personal opinion and in no way does it represent an opinion of any company I work for or ever worked for.

Feel free to comment, remix, and reuse freely.

Printable .pdf: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/552834/oneslide/Oneslide_Ultimate_behavior_change_brief.pdf
Editable .svg: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/552834/oneslide/Oneslide_Ultimate_behavior_change_brief.svg