One of my favourite pastimes seems to be overstating the obvious and then giving a detailed lecture on how important I think it is.
Well my nugget of profound yet obvious wisdom in this case is a simple process that can be identified everywhere in nature; it is the input – process – output model. To be honest, I have never found anyone else describing this model, but I think it still fits in with the obvious.
By the way, did I mention that this model can give a simplified yet accurate insight to every process in the universe? Obvious… tick, overstatement… done, so straight on with the lecture then.
Input – Stuff goes in…
Process – Something happens…
Output – Stuff comes out…
Ok, let’s know this a little bit more; the model is a cycle so a cycle has to flow, therefore resistance or blockages to the flow present problems to be solved. The perfect cycle is robustly stable and self-sustaining as well as time- and energy-efficient. Let’s look at common situations from this different perspective.
The model’s currency is information or energy: information in – information processing – information out.
If it’s information we are talking about, then it’s communication we are thinking about, and that begins with language. Consider a piece of music, no singing or lyrics, so what about this language, then? The language in this case is in the patterns of sounds. A tune that is pleasantly familiar will normally makes us feel good; a tune that is unpleasantly familiar will normally reload the unpleasantness back into memory.
Either way, the incoming information might well change the train of thought, your frame of mind. The input will be readily accepted or roundly rejected depending on existing familiarities and the ease of processing at that time.
If some incoming information is in agreement and support of an existing belief system it will be easy to process. If the information is in conflict with an existing belief system, then it takes much more energy and time to work out if the information is true… and, if so, how to place it within the belief system.
In general, people simply dismiss or deny conflicting information out of laziness. It depends on the individual’s character. This rejection pattern might already be familiar to many, I’m sure, and it is as clearly-identifiable as a language mismatch, blockage or resistance, in the input part of the model.
So for music, no out-of-place notes that jar with the expected flow, and for language, a smooth blend of familiar wisdoms that fit nicely. But, in reality, life is not that simple. It is up to the individual to attune their understanding to the incoming language– if they want to actually understand the information that is.
I love to input information, and what I do to bridge any language barrier is to look for the familiar and reconstruct the rest in context, regularly checking that the context is correct, and ensuring that the mental journey is on the same shared path. Again, in reality, this takes time and energy that many people are simply not prepared to invest.
It is apparent, to me anyway, that those who only have time for their own kind, who only warm to their own beliefs, are the ones who would have written-off Einstein because his speech development was delayed, or left the young and sickly Newton to die because they thought it would be best for everyone, or written off Stephen Hawking because they didn’t like the look of that type of genius, or indeed nailed someone to a cross because they disagreed with his belief system.
The people who can’t or won’t listen are the people that should be limited to following simple instructions rather than making decisions, decision making is for wise shepherds not the ignorant sheep. I wonder how much genius has been squandered by the blissful ignorance of sheep in shepherds clothing, I shudder to think.
So we learn to communicate, we understand a mutual language, what next?
So the input seems to be OK, but nothing is coming out? The problem must then be in either the processing or the output. Now, we test the output. To do this, ask a simple question that requires a simple yes or no answer [a nod or shake of the head will suffice]. If there is still no response, then an output language must be generated within mutual agreement. Agree how to express a yes and a no.
If an output is achieved, then the cycle is flowing, even if only on a basic level. At this point, further progress can be made.
To test processing, supply information that would yield a known or expected output or response. Compare the output response with the expected output response, and if they don’t match, search for the logic that links them. Identify their frame of mind and adapt to exploit the similarities to guide the thinking [processing] into mutual alignment, a shared frame of mind.
When the input is good, the processing frame is aligned, and the output is quality, the communication is easy and efficient.
The input – process – output model is running in all of us all of the time, so it affects everyone all of the time. If I have a chronic blockage somewhere in the IPO model, learning will be inhibited. If I can’t understand, I try to understand. If I can’t process, I will attempt to generate a suitable process. If I am ignored, I recalculate my output language and try again. If I can’t express myself or I am dismissed, I cannot verify my new information via a third party. If I cannot communicate, I feel stress. If the stress is chronic, then that leads to much worse situations. The whole cycle needs to be completed for the mind to reliably add to the mental map and to advance further.
Analogy: A farmer wants to sow seed. He must know the seeding machine is outputting correctly before he drives it across his field. I am reminded of BBC’s Top Gears attempts at growing their own bio-fuel. After James May’s marathon systems check, he jumped in to the tractor and immediately dumped all their seed in one neat pile behind the tractor the moment he pulled away. He has to get the output right before he can move on, or he won’t get the result he expects. The output has to fit for it to work, so it has to be seen or known to fit before the process goes any further.
I mentioned at the beginning that I was overstating the obvious, but I’m not so sure that this model is that obvious. If it is obvious, then society has a lot to answer for because it seems that, in adulthood, information out is being catered to by counselors without addressing the rest of the process.
All my words in this piece can be condensed into this: listen to the children if you want them to grow and flourish. They are literally the only future of humanity. Let’s prepare them to be in a position to care about planetary life and sustainable balance rather than supporting a selfish greed for the superficial. Let us teach them the skills and attitude to thrive in a balanced and just society. Perhaps one day we could eventually develop into a balanced and fair society rather than one that just claims to be.