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9.2.2. Inferring: Comparing Interests


How To Invent (Almost) Anything > 9. Managing in a Complex World > 9.2. Inferring Meaning > 9.2.2. Inferring: Comparing Interests

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When I have identified what I am perceiving, I can then add further meaning in terms of those things that are important to me or in which I have some interest.

Fig. 9.3 Inferring meaning

The relevance filter

If you wanted to invent a device for treating storm-damaged trees, and while surfing through television channels you came across a programme on rose-grafting, your ears might prick up at the thought of how it may help you understand how plants grow together. This is your relevance filter clicking in, saying ‘hang on a minute, out of all the irrelevant junk that has been passing before my eyes, this bit is actually of interest.’

The same effect happens when you have recently bought a new car and suddenly you seem to notice every car like yours on the road. Things at the top of your mind will act as filters on your perceptions.

If what we are perceiving is relevant to achieving our goals, then we will give it more time to understand its true meaning, especially as it relates to our goals. Creative people tend to have wider sensing in this area, spotting potential in many areas that other people miss.

Success criteria

When we are considering the meaning of something after we have taken some form of action to try and achieve our considered goals (and a large amount of what we do can be viewed in this way), then we view what has happened in comparison with those goals. For example, if you were doing an experiment with a new style of kite, if it flew well and was easy to control then you may well consider this a success and consequently be pleased.

Inventing is often an iterative process, and success means taking a step closer to your goals rather than coming up with the completed idea, Mozart-like, in one go. Inventors thus need a high tolerance of failure or at least need to define success in terms of learning, rather than achieving an immediate solution to a problem.

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