Problem visualization and problem solving

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How we envision a problem plays a big part in the way we understand a problem.

For many years we have been stuck in a two-dimensional understanding of our problems due to technological limitations. Today as 3-D tools and multimedia are becoming increasingly available to a wider range of people we have an opportunity to illustrate concepts, problems and ideas with the “missing dimensions” and missing dynamics.

Problems are no longer seen as flat, either/or binary entities but rather we may be able to see them as three dimensional “blobs” that extend across:
– time
– space
– across systems

The size of the problems can be visualized as changing in dimension, expansion, severity, intensity. We can visualize natural sub-divisions, “child problems” and other complexities that we previously omitted simply because we forgot to picture it in our minds.


Figure: This is a 2-D model of what a problem may look like as it expands across several (changing) systems. (each circle is a symbol for a system with its own cycles of change). The green “blob” is a symbol for a problem, while in motion it would be visualized as changing in form, size, etc.

(Note: the following link is dead. I need to re-locate the files which are in an old web server. So, until then you’ll have to use your imagination. I do recommend the link under the “Update” section below. I think this communicates a similar idea.)
I created a quick flash animation of this graphic to illustrate the idea further. The animation shows each of the systems rotating and the problem (green blob) changing size and position >>

This is a “rough” model of how a problem (or entity) may be visualized with a 3-dimensional perspective that takes into account the factor of time and the factor of “expansion” (how wide or large the entity expands across many systems) (also, how large or wide a system expands).

Update:

See this chart from a TED presentation (from Gapminder.com) >>

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