Thursday, January 29, 2015

Chloe's Journal #3: "I Opt" in the "Tween" Years

By: Chloe (aka "OE"--Shannon Nelson's daughter)
Junior Organizational Engineer/Ex-Official Corporate Mascot

Professional Communications, Inc.

Since my last blog I've grown from a kid to an 11 year old "tween" about to enter my teenage years. All kinds of things have happened in the three years since my last posting. However, I created this blog to help Umpahthat is what I named Dr. Salton when I was a little girl. It just seems wrong to call him anything else now.  He has a theory that works for adults. What he did not have was an explanation of how it developed from childhood.  That is the part I am helping to build with these blogs.

THE "EL" Years
“EL” is an abbreviation for the elementary education school years. I am in “Upper El” now and will enter middle school next year.  It’s great to finally be at the top of the pile.  It only lasts for a year, but it seems to me to be an important milestone. It’s a good time to fill in more of the missing pieces to Umpah’s theory.
In my last blog I commented that most of my school efforts have focused on learning about different systems—math, astronomy, physics, ecology, music and a mountain of other stuff.  This is the foundation for Umpah’s Hypothetical Analyzer style.  He says you can use the HA style with any level of education. But the more you know the more effective you’ll be in using this strategy as a grownup.  I intend to get as much as I can while the getting is good.
However, I’ve noticed something that Umpah does not mention in his theory.  Umpah’s input>process>output model develops as a dance and not a progression.  And the process part has the lead.  Process is just a pattern connecting input and output. I’m real lucky in that my school—“Go with the Wind” Montessori school —seems to recognize this.
My teachers are great at providing the raw input.  And they do it in a way that shows me how to connect that input to output. Percent’s are a lot easier to understand when you first show them graphically and then show how they work symbolically.  This is kind of the basic dance step. Do this and then do that.
The real dance starts when you have to do things yourself. For example, when we were studying anatomy we had to build a model of a dog’s skeleton. Mom and I stayed up into the night making Paper Mache bones and trying to get them to stand up.  In the morning—CATASTROPHE!!  My dog had collapsed. Mom had a great idea. She said I should remake the skeleton into a 2D model.  It worked!  I got an “A.”
As I thought about my experience I suddenly recognized that I had progressed beyond the “do this then do that” stage. I could connect the skeleton input with the presentation output in more than one way.  I had translated a 3D disaster into a 2D model.  That is the dance. There is an action-reaction element to developing the “process” part of Umpah’s model.

I relayed my experience to Umpah through Mom—she sees him every day.  He said that I was right!  I had started my model dog using an LP strategy.  I was doing things in a way that was likely to produce what I wanted.  When the dog collapsed I had to figure out a new way of producing the result.  I had to create a new “map” to connect the assignment input to the presentation output. Being able to build that map is the essence of an HA strategy.  The result is an approach that explores different ways things can be done (alternative “maps”) and then selects the best.

I thought about Umpah’s comments.  I think he is right.  At my school knowledge input is always coupled with some kind of output.  We give presentations to each other, we compete in science Olympiads and we produce models and dioramas. And there is always some kind of glitch. But somehow we always find a way around it. I had not realized it but the glitches were part of the learning process! I was doing a dance and didn’t even know it!

Now I know that what I’m really doing is building my ability to create different maps—Umpah calls them theories—in order to respond to things that just happen. I guess that is why we spend so much time in school building our HA capacities.  It’s not just about getting new knowledge.  It’s about learning how to actually use that knowledge in the real world that I’m getting ready to enter.

Mom was pretty proud of my Collapsed Dog performance.  She told everyone who would listen about it.  I felt a little embarrassed but also pretty proud of myself. I asked Mom why she was celebrating all over the place.  She explained that Umpah’s model is not static.  It is more like a muscle than a thought process. She said that the better I got at building these maps, the more alternatives I would see. She said I was building a lot of “muscle” and she was proud of me and what I was able to do.
I thought about what Mom said.  I think she is telling me that the more you use it, the better you get at constructing different ways of getting to where you want to be.   The more viable theories you can construct, the more you “see” in any given situation.  I guess that is why big time HA’s tend to be intellectuals.  They just see more than do other people.
I decided to try to test my HA abilities in a history assignment.  The project was to give a presentation on the history of a country.  I chose Japan.  All I really had to do was to describe the country and identify some of the characteristics that made it unique.  As I began to work on it I noticed that a lot of things kind of tied together—language, dress, food and physical environment to name just few. A country is more like an interwoven fabric than a bunch of isolated features.
To make a long story short, I chose to build a “map” that incorporated all of the elements I had found. I even managed to get my dog “Kobi”—a Japanese breed—into it.  I framed my presentation as a story.  A story is just a simplified account of things.   But you saw my underlying theoretical “map” when the questions started.  I was easily able to relate one thing to another in my answers.  The result was a “home run.”  I knocked it out of the park.   Another big-time “A+.”
I was pretty pumped up after the presentation and got to thinking.  It seemed to me that my Japan Presentation had been creative and original. I remembered Umpah told me that I would be developing abilities in a style called Relational Innovator or RI as I grew up. The RI style is usually celebrated for its creativity.  So I asked Mom if what I had done qualified as an RI performance.
Mom said no.  Any style can be creative.  She used our company’s CFO as an example. Aunt Esther—I’ve called her that since I was little—uses an HA style. She figures out complicated things by finding out how one thing relates to another.  That is the same style that is often used to create new vaccines that save millions of people every year. Mom’s our CEO.  She uses an LP style. Her approach can help create new processes that reduce cost and effort without risking what we already have.  Even Umpah’s RS style can save the day by finding a creative way to make a crashed computer system come to life.  
Now all of this was confusing. If everybody can be creative what makes RI special?  I asked Mom. She said it was the nature and volume of the creativity that set it apart.  The volume bit was easy to understand. RIs just do more creative stuff.  I told her I needed examples on the “nature” bit.
Mom said that Einstein was probably the best example. She said in college I would learn that without space there can be no time. Before Einstein no one ever thought that time and space was related in any way. Mom said that Isaac Newton is someone else I would learn about in college.  He figured out that the pull of gravity—a force—was directly related to the mass of an object-a quantity.  This is obvious now but it was not in 1679 when Newton thought it up.  Both of these guys had made their discoveries by connecting things that no one thought were related in any way. That was the difference. It centers on the totally unexpected character of their ideas. That was the “nature” bit. And then both of these guys had gone on to discover a bunch of other stuff.  That was the volume bit.

I thought about what Mom said.  I think I understand.  I think I’ve figured out how the RI is able to pull off the creativity thing.  All of the other styles have a focus. They have an objective. RS wants speed and volume. The LP wants precision and dependability. The HA wants understanding. Things that pop up that don’t fit with these different goals just get dismissed. That creates a mental “box.” Their inventions and discoveries tend to involve the things that live “in the box” they created.

The pure RI is different. They get their jollies from the discovery process itself. They have no special goal. No goal, no box. That means they stand a better chance of stumbling across unexpected connections.  This also explains why everybody talks about how important serendipity is in science.  Chance events open the door to unexpected connections. Mistakes, co-incidents and other unplanned things happen to everyone. That means that everyone can make unexpected discoveries.  The difference is that the RI just doesn’t have to wait for chance events to happen. For them, life itself is a chance event and everything is fair game.
I ran my ideas by Mom and asked her if I got it right.  She said I hit the nail on its head.  That’s why my Japan presentation was not really an RI performance. I had discovered new things but that they all fell within categories of things known to be somehow related.  Now if I had shown how the orientation of the Andromeda Galaxy was related to the Japanese character—that would be big time RI. Mom sometimes exaggerates things a little in order to make a point.
Okay. So what I did was still good. It just did not come out of the RI style.  I asked Mom when I could expect to begin seeing RI in my “I Opt” profile.  She said that everybody has at least some RI and it usually begins to develop in the teenage years.  That is when people start putting their toe in the water to explore totally new things and situations.  Just to navigate the teenage environment requires them to figure out how unexpected things relate to each other. Mom said that relating unexpected things is the essence of the RI style. And it would happen naturally as I grew up.

Well, I learned a lot in my “EL” years.  Mom, my teachers, Umpah and Aunt Esther helped a lot in preparing me to make a mark in the life I’m preparing to enter. I thought I’d try to show them that their investment was going to pay off. I thought I’d make a stab at a little premature RI. You know, get a little ahead of the game.

The thing I am noodling over is the relation of music and mathematics. There may be something unexpected there.  The reason that this caught my attention is that I just joined an all-girl band Indy Band. I am the base guitarist. I did a lot of work mastering my instrument and then learning how to mesh my music with the other girls in the band.
Then a funny thing happened—an unexpected event.  I had always been okay at math but nothing exceptional.  But in my last test I suddenly move to the top of the pile. I got to thinking about whether there was some relation between my music and math.
Mom mentioned my experience to Umpah.  He said that the music-math relation has been known for thousands of years.  But no one knew exactly what it was.  He said that both areas relied on patterns. But that was about the end of it.  Mom told me about Umpah’s comments and it got me to thinking. I figured I had a leg up on Umpah.  He has a tin ear and thinks elevator music is the state of the art.
I see the patterns in both music and math.  Both are forms of communication and have to travel through Umpah’s input>process>output model.  It struck me that the difference was in the channels.  Music depends on the senses to communicate its message.  Math is intellectual.  It depends on mental processes to get its message across. 
And the messages are different.  Music is about communicating emotions—you know, feelings—from one person to another.  Math is about transferring rational knowledge. Equations don’t have feelings. 
Bingo!!  I can smell a scent trail! If there is a music-math relationship I’m going to find it how the sensual patterns of music match up with the logical patterns of math.  And this is going to happen in the “process” part of Umpah’s model. Somehow the patterns created by music get connected to the patterns generated by math.  I guess that is why mathematicians describe their equations as “beautiful”—a sensual quality. There is some kind of connection. I just got to figure out what it is.
Well, that’s about as far as I got so far.  My Daddy is a DJ as well as a graphic artist. He can help me dice out the pattern elements of music.  The math patterns are going to be the hard part. Mom thinks that all math lives in the Excel worksheets she works with every day.  Umpah says that he kind of understands statistics but that math is a mystery to him.  Daddy thinks that math is the figures that he works into his graphical designs.
Okay.  I’m a little stuck for now. Just another glitch. I’ll figure out some way over, under or through it.  But I can already feel the excitement of the RI style building. The RI is interested in the hunt, not the result.  If I find the music-math connection I’ll know something that no human has ever been able to figure out.  If I fail, I will have built my RI “muscle” and I’ll use it to figure something else out.  I can’t lose!