Abstraction is perhaps the most influential and impactful tool humans use in problem solving. Its all about sense making. Sense making is a process of growth not of completion. Understanding is a matter of degree. One never gains complete understanding. One only gains more understanding than what one previously possessed. Typically, what one seeks is a level of understanding that is functional — a level of understanding that allows one to make predictions about the future.

One need not have complete understanding to have a level of understanding that allows one to predict outcomes.

There is a direct relationship between the complexity of an issue and the time in which it takes to make sense of it. Natural ability and experience may affect the time required to make sense on a particular issue (positively and negatively). Frustration arises when one tries to compress the time required to make sense. Sense making is a cyclical process that takes time. Understanding is gained with each cycle of the process.

The universal process in making sense is tweaking the signal to noise ratio. One first eliminates as much noise as possible to create a model of reality. The model is created by increasing the focus on the essential elements and diminishing the focus on the extraneous elements. The act of simplification on an issue changes the issue from its natural state. It creates only a model. What one understands is the simplified version not the actual issue.

To approach understanding of the actual phenomenon, one must continually/gradually add back the “noise” that is illuminated in prior attempts at understanding and incorporate this into ones model. The more noise one can convert to a signal within ones model will hopefully result in more accurate predictions and thus “make more sense” of the issue.

Ones understanding of an issue is measured by the degree of complexity incorporated into the model used for making predictions.

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