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More Word Analysis Problem Solving

A continuation of the page; Word Analysis

Another way to use analysis of language for creative problem solving is to write out duplicate copies of the problem description, with the emphasis on a different word or phrase in each. When spoken, we refer to this as "inflection," and it makes a big difference in the meaning of a sentence. In writing, you can italicize the words, capitalize them, or make them bold, as in the following examples.

I need to make more money.

"I" is emphasized, implying that the speaker is the one who needs more money. When we apply our "rules" (question implicit assumptions, consider other words, ponder the idea in general, ask why), we might come upon some interesting solutions. Perhaps it is the people you owe money to who need more money. That suggests things like getting a discount on your rent if you bring in new tenants.

I need to make more money.

Is the assumption of necessity entirely true? Perhaps you'll survive just fine as you are, but you want to make more money. This brings up the question of what you need the money for. Finding other ways to get those things might be a solution. An example could be signing up ten friends in exchange for a free cruise.

I need to make more money.

This might get you thinking of other words that are related to money. "To invest" will bring certain types of ideas to mind, while "to save" might make you realize you have enough if you spend less on the things you buy. "To earn" could suggest looking for better job.

I need to make more money.

Why? If you need more money for specific things, this again suggests the possibilities of getting what you want without money. This line of questioning might also lead you to think of ways to get more for your money, so you won't actually need more. Pondering the idea, it could occur to you that more free time is what you really need, and that will lead to more money.

The longer and more detailed the statement of the problem is, the more words and phases you'll have to work with. This is obvious, but why is it important? Because it makes it more likely that you'll find hidden assumptions that are limiting your possible solutions. For example, changing the above to "I need to make more money so I can buy a business," reveals the assumption that you need to buy a business. Asking "why?" of the word "buy" immediately suggests starting a low-cost business rather than buying one.

To use word analysis as a problem solving tool, then, write out long descriptions of problems, and apply the four rules outlined in part one of this article. This is a great way to generate solutions that you might otherwise miss.

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