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Using your best problem-solving methods
to find even better methods

If you have a good method for solving problems, one of the better uses of that method is on the problem of how to create better methods of solving problems! And one of the best uses of such better methods is on the problem of how to create even better such methods!

Likewise, let your process teach you better processes! Let these better processes teach you even better processes . . . . .

Keep that up for a while and you eventually begin to get some processes, some methods, that are truly worthwhile. We call this concept "Toolbuilder" because the tools use a specific method of process to create new tools, methods or processes...

This is the simple Principle of Reinvestment, of methods into better methods. There is no limit apparent as to how far or how high this can ultimately go. We shall continue to apply it, hopefully, for many years to come. And you might come up with even better methods!

"Toolbuilder" is any procedure used for the purpose of inventing a better (or at least equivalent different) procedure. Much progress has been made on two fronts:
1.  Take the basic Osborn-Parnes, Springboard-type method which started the world-wide creativity movement back in the 1950s and 60s....One element of that, of course, is everyone's favorite — brainstorming. One particular brainstorm on "all possible CPS methods" resulted in the drafting of a taxonomy to identify and sort out and classify all possible answer-finding methods. One obvious further step could be to run a follow-up brainstorming session on all possible types of answer-finding method this initial draft overlooks, or all possible improvements to be made on this draft taxonomy, or all possible improvements to be made on that brainstorming method itself.

2.  In Einsteinian Discovery Technique, made easier and more productive by our combining it with a version of Socratic Method — in what Einstein called "mind experiments" and what he used to discover Relativity — one lets mental imagery play freely, observes it as closely as possible, and sees what one can discover from what one observes.

In Socratic Method, one gets people to examining their perceptions, inner and outer, and responding from or describing in detail what they discover there. In the combinations employed by Project Renaissance, we pursue various ways to elicit and focus mental imagery and impressions, and not only retain alertness while doing this but considerably develop those images and impressions, by describing them in detail to one-another while examining them.


Highly effective process
In one of our most effective "Toolbuilder" formats, you experience a garden — one with a wall and gate which separates it from the scene beyond. That scene beyond contains what we are looking for — and in this instance, we are looking for an experience or situation which trains a high level of performance in the chosen skill — but in the form of an imagined highly advanced civilization which has developed its own special ways to train or teach. We usually not only get an experience which trains us to higher performance levels in the chosen skill, but often entirely new, special ways to train or teach that skill.

Again, when your images do unexpected things instead of following the script, follow what those images are actually doing instead of what you think they ought to be doing — these seemingly undirected images are taking you by a much more direct route toward the intended payoff....or toward an even-better-for-you payoff. As an example of what happens when you let your images develop freely instead of trying to make them conform to your expectations, we have the following written description of the Toolbuilder experience of one of our workshop participants.


A case history
Mr. M.R., a teacher, relates experiencing a garden whose trees were all willows, quaking aspens, other trailing-limb or loose-or-feathery-foliaged trees and shrubs which make almost an exaggerated response to even light breezes. Shrubs, tall cane grass and other plantings were all based on the same principle. "Whenever there is any breeze at all," writes M.R., "(in this experience) I get an almost overwhelming impression of movement and I think that this would be a marvelous principle for landscape design in real-life gardens."

Still writing in the present tense as instructed during the exercises, M.R. describes the rest of an experience in which he first experienced whatever images his "right brain" provides him for experiencing a garden. In this version of the "Toolbuilder" exercise, a high wall stands between M.R. and what is outside the garden, in this instance a highly advanced civilization. As per instructions, this advanced civilization was to be biologically ordinary human, yet so highly advanced that any ordinary ten-year-old could outperform any virtuoso in the skill, art or subject knowledge selected by M.R.

In this case, M.R. did not make a tight choice but simply let the experience be in the context of "education." Just outside this garden wall was to be the point-of-experience in this civilization which demonstrated why any ordinary 10-year-old in this civilization can so readily outperform Earth virtuosos and geniuses. This "Toolbuilder" experience is so-named because the subject not only often goes through the experiences which endow him/her with that virtuoso genius ability, but often comes back with the tools, principles and methods for entire new training methods (from which many of our present methods have indeed sprung!) — teaching and learning methods, school systems and even entire child-raising systems. To resume M.R.'s narrative:

"My garden continues past the gate with flagstone path curving around a pond, with areas of grass pocketed by shrubbery which looks like large-leafed philodendrons, and feathery-fronded trees arching high overhead —

"But what first catches my attention is a very small child, maybe 2 years old or so, maybe she is Asiatic-Indian or Hispanic, she is dark-skinned.

"Even as I see her playing with a blue balloon, I see other very young children of all kinds, mostly also playing with balloons. The children are scattered up the flagstone path, individually and in small clumps.

"The way they are playing with the balloons — and the way a somber-looking, grotesque clown is also playing with his balloon is to hold it with one hand and arm, poke it in one place and have it thrust and bulge out somewhere else.

"The clown is all in dark, his attire and makeup as suited to broad-stroke drama or mime as to comedy. The children watch him as well as each other. When he changes what he's doing, some, then others, then the rest of the children all change to mimic his new antic.

"A bronze tone abruptly colors the air and I have an image of three bells — one small, silvery and light-toned; one brassy and medium-sized; and one deep gong. The middle one has sounded.

"I didn't notice him changing, but now the clown is blowing bubbles and feathers. Fans set high in the wall behind me are blowing through the feathery-fronded trees above and causing the foliage to move dramatically. Some kids have let their balloons blow away in the new breeze. Now the clown — and some of the children — are letting long ribbons trail in the breeze. They also play at blowing them with their breath.

"Now the silvery bell chimes and instantly the clown scampers over to the pond. The fans are no longer blowing. The pond is surrounded by jars, pans and bottles of all shapes and sizes and I begin to have an inkling of what this is all about."

Note here as elsewhere that until this point, at least, M.R. had no conscious idea of what his "right brain" or higher consciousness was setting forth to show him. Had he directed his imagery to follow his expectations, rather than letting his images direct themselves while he described them aloud as he went to keep them focused, he could have never gotten such a discoveries-rich experience as this one proved to be. M.R. continues:

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