The BLT process provides an adaptable way to apply the framework to real-world problems.
8. ITERATE or DISRUPT
Choose a topic: Big Little Thinking (BLT) about a problem begins with the choice of a topic. Generally, topics are generated for their relevance and significance to participants in the process. However, the selection of obscure, novel, or caricatured topics can be useful to learn and practice BLT. The selection of obscure topics can also be useful in demonstrating BLT's ability to reveal the entanglement and contiguity of all topics.
Select a problem: Big Little Thinking (BLT) uses 'problems and solutions' as core constructs. 'Problems' are defined broadly as situations that invite the coordination, reconfiguration and/or generation of parts for improvement. One of the aims of BLT is to reveal the scalability and entanglement of problems and solutions. Like topics, the selection of problems usually relates to their relevance and significance to participants in the process. Simple prompts for the selection of a problem are:
Populate a problem: This phase encourages the unstructured sharing of stories and experiences of the problem. It's likely that opinions and attitudes will be embedded in these stories, but the emphasis is on free and open collection and sharing of the ways a problem is experienced.
Identify the Zygos: Big Little Thinking (BLT) uses pairs or zygos as a basic unit of thinking for the exploration of problems. A zygo is a pair of concepts that emphasises their possible conceptualisations as one thing, two things, three things and many things.
This key phase of the BLT process serves to define and refine the pairs of the problem. The ZYGO reveals the language and deep structure of a problem by analysing the possible values and associations of its defining pairs.
Refine the Zygos: Often, the pairs of a problem will be first presented in a value-laden or binary oppositional form, where one side or constituent is framed more positively than another and/or the terms will be too secondary (i.e. obscuring other pairs) to be clear. A key part of this process is to refine the zygos into more basic and neutral forms.
Investigate the frames of the problem: This key phase of the BLT process serves to expand and contextualise the problem using the frames of the ZYGO. Contextualising means recognising both the situated experience of a problem and its entangled nature and continuity across space and time.
This phase encourages more open and explicit explorations of the matter, mind, mood, meaning and ultimate source (meta) of the problem. It asks:
This realisation of the Meta frame is characterised by (a) the paradoxical ubiquity and ambiguity of this source, and (b) appreciation for the forms and names used to understand and approach it.
Investigate the dimensions of the problem: This phase introduces the BLT dimensions to reveal the relationality and contextuality of any problem. To recall, the five dimensions are:
This phase identifies dynamics that characterise the problem. Dynamics are akin to the 'social physics' of a problem. These dynamics help to understand the causes of a problem, predict possible courses of a problem, and understand consequences of a problem.
This phase encourages more open and explicit explorations of the possible solutions to the problem. It involves creative thinking for the generation of possibilities however absurd or pragmatic. It asks:
This phase refines the possible solutions to create practical solutions that are fit-for-purpose and able to be implemented.
Actuate solutions to the problem: This phase encourages the implementation and application of solutions to the problem. It is important to note that 'actualisible, practical, and workable' solutions do not necessarily mean static, concrete, quantitative and hard solutions. BLT encourages the space and place for dynamic, soft, disruptive and qualitative solutions.
Evaluate actualised solutions to the problem: This phase encourages the observation and evaluation of actualisable (i.e. workable, practicable) solutions to the problem. It asks:
Iterate, Re-enter, or Disrupt the process: This is an approach rather than a phase. As such, it encourages the repetition of the process; re-entry at any point of the process; or the disruption of the process and the framework itself. The approach recognises that processes can be engaged in non-linear, iterative, holistic, and responsive ways. It also encourages the disruption and transformation of the situated forms of the framework itself. For example, what other shapes, symbols, and natural metaphors could be used to represent BLT?