I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. – Thomas Edison
This is a talk I gave for ECEWeek at the University of Alberta on January 29th, 2015. It’s goal is to make the argument that culturally (especially in the Engineering discipline), we overemphasize the value of planning and preparation, and that there are situations where it’s the less efficient approach to solving a problem.
“Details create the big picture.” – Sanford I. Weill
Imagine you’re staring at a picture of a truck on a road. Maybe the road is located in a forest and there’s a cabin on the side with smoke coming out of a chimney. There’s some ruts through the snow on the road, where vehicles frequently (but not too frequently) drive.
What’s amazing about this activity is how quickly you are able to see all these things. In the first instant of looking at this picture your brain has identified a large number of elements (wheels, bumpers, lights, branches, tree trunks, a door, a chimney, a wall) and combined these elements into higher level concepts (a truck, a forest, a cabin), and then again combined these elements into an even higher level of abstraction ( a remote cabin in the woods).