Posts Tagged ‘powerful ideas’

When he was 16 years old, Albert Einstein asked a curious question: “What would it be like to ride on a beam of light?” He said it took him ten years to fully understand what it meant. By the time he was able to answer it completely, he had described his special theory of relativity and formulated the most famous equation in physics: Emc2. Not bad for a question that most teachers would shake their heads and roll their eyeballs at, no?

Now imagine that you could retrace all the questions that led to a great idea. Imagine starting at the end and working backwards. Having plotted each insightful question at each turning point along the route, you would have more than just the directions to a single destination. You would have a set of useful conceptual tools that you could apply to any number of new challenges. This is what we call thought plotting.

Thought plotting is at the very centre of Cognician. It’s the idea on which Cognician builds its foundations. Because Cognician is based on the principle that if you want to think and act like a genius, you must learn to question like a genius. But genius is perhaps too strong a word. Because the world doesn’t need more geniuses. What it needs is people who can use ideas with the same skill and efficiency that they use tools.

In this blog, we’ll show you how you can use the principles of thought plotting to identify the ideas behind the deeds of entrepreneurs, politicians, artists and scientists. We’ll show you how you can use thought plotting to get to the bottom of social issues. We’ll show you how you can use thought plotting to understand creativity, innovation and business. In short, we’ll show you how you can use thought plotting to harness the power of ideas and make them work for you.


We have always been fascinated by ideas. That’s why we are building Cognician – an application and a platform that makes using powerful ideas as easy as clicking on a mouse. By using ideas, we don’t mean just thinking about things. We mean putting ideas to use to do things. What kinds of things? More on that later.

Since December 2006, Barry and I have been working in some way or another on Cognician. Although the love of ideas is in our DNA, Cognician properly began life as a seminar that Barry created for UCT’s graduate school of business on critical and creative thinking. When we decided to turn the content of that seminar into software, we realised that we were creating a platform for the delivery of many kinds of content. The platform and the application evolved into what we now call, Cognician: the original thinking guide.

So how does it work? What does it do? Who is it for? What will it do for you? Until we release Cognician, and for some time after, this blog will answer all these questions and more. We hope you enjoy reading it and we look forward to hearing your thoughts.