D as Diagramming: The Opportunity Formula
How to use a diagram to find a sweet point?
This post is part of the D as Diagramming Project which aims to explore the power of diagrams and diagramming.
Diagram is one of my essential three knowledge units. I love to dwell in thought with diagramming. I even wrote a 108-page thesis that develops a theory about diagrams and diagramming in 2018. I consider two groups of ideas for my theory about diagrams. The first group is “meta-diagram, diagram, and diagram system” and the second group is “diagramming as an activity of knowing, theorizing and reflecting”.
The notion of “diagramming as an activity of knowing, theorizing and reflecting” adopts a process view to understand Diagrams. In other words, it is “becoming.” That means we can use diagrams as a tool for our thinking. We don’t need to consider all diagrams as final outcomes.
Moreover, what I really want to know is about the value of diagrams for turning tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge. Thus, I set this goal as the present objective of the D as Diagramming research project.
Today I want to share an example of diagramming for reflection.
The Starting Point of a framework
I introduced version 2.0 of the Life-as-Activity framework on Sept 10, 2021. As an outcome of diagram blending and knowledge curation, this new framework should be considered as a Knowledge Portal of my ideas because its concepts link to other frameworks.
For example, The core of v0.3 is the iART Framework which talks about “Self — Other — Present — Future”.The term “Project” refers to Project-oriented Activity Theory and the Developmental Project Model. The term “Theme” refers to Themes of Practice and its practical model. The term “Moment” refers to my research about Creative Actions and the 3i model. The three concepts of “Object — Objective — Outcome” are adopted from the traditional Activity Theory.
Last week, some friends asked me what its starting point is.
The answer is Opportunity. The concept of Opportunity is inspired by my work the Ecological Practice Approach which is based on Ecological Psychology. It also refers to the Organization for Opportunity framework.
This conversation led to a reflection: should I call the Ecological Practice Approach Opportunity Theory?
I think it is fine to claim that the Ecological Practice Approach is a theory about opportunities because the approach takes Possible Practices seriously. The source of Possible Practices is Creative Actions in the daily life world. And the approach adopts embodied and situated cognitive science to understand Creative Actions.
Reflect on other sweet spots
I consciously used the Diagram Notation technique to reflect on other sweet spots. In fact, these sweet spots are my friends’ sweet spots.
In the first article about the iART Framework, I mentioned a story about an adult development program as an advisor. The program was initiated by a young girl who is a friend of mine.
The program was designed with three components: 1) Life Purpose Awareness, 2) Personal OKR Practice, and 3) Peer Review and Feedback. My friend also adopted the Building In Public approach to sharing her goals, challenges, progress, and discussions with others on social media platforms.
It’s clear that the girl’s sweet spot is Objective which is related to Personal OKR. I also realized that Opportunity could lead to Objective from the perspective of the Life-as-Activity framework.
In the past year, I worked on the Activity U project which is a knowledge curation project about Activity Theory. During the process, I met some new friends in this field.
Since Activity Theorists claim that an activity is defined by an object. So, their sweet points are Object and Outcome.
In a previous article Frame Analysis in Context, I mentioned my mentor who is an innovative psychologist and inventor. He is not a normal scholar because he developed several theories and used these as guides to invent several patented tools and methods, instead of writing papers. His inventions are powerful and attractive to many people. He is an expert on ecological psychology, personality psychology, and the psychology of innovation. He taught me affordance theory and ecological psychology from 2014 to 2016.
He recently published a book that offers a new psychological theory about personality and behavior which is really useful for interpersonal communication and relationship development. Thus, I realized that his sweet point is “Self — Other”.
Though my iART Framework also talks about “Self — Other”, my focus is not on general interpersonal communication and relationship development, but only on the “Anticipation — Performance” relationship.
The Nest Way: Individual and Collective
The reflection brings me an important insight. I am not alone!
I realized that I and my friends are working as a whole from the perspective of the Nest way. The diagram below shows hierarchical loops. I am in the inner loop while my friends are in the outer loop. As mentioned above, my sweet point is Opportunity which refers to the Ecological Practice approach. My friends work on other sweet points which can be considered as part of the Life-as-Activity framework.
Though we don’t have direct collaborative work on the Life-as-Activity framework. I still can consider their work and my work as a whole for the Life-as-Activity framework because they could offer potential support to me. Even if I don’t directly ask them for help, I still could get supportances from them by reading their papers, books, articles, and social media updates.
From the perspective of Suppotance which is a core concept of the Ecological Practice approach, ‘support’ means not only intended support but also unintended support.
That’s the reason I often write thank-you letters to my friends. Each time, if I get a big idea that is inspired by my friends’ sharing, I always send an email to them and tell them about my progress and their unintended support for it.
The Opportunity Formula
The above conversation and reflection also led to a new idea: a formula of Opportunity. In order to explain the value of the ecological practice approach, I adopt the concept of Opportunity as mediation and redefined it as formula below:
Opportunity = From a perspective (X), You (U) could do things (Y) with an object (Z).
The X formula is a way of building heuristic tools. Some authors also use this method to name their books. For example, the physicist Albert-László Barabási is best known for his work in the research of network theory. He published a book titled The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success in 2018. Ronald F. Ferguson and Tatsha Robertson published The Formula: Unlocking the Secrets to Raising Highly Successful Children in 2020. Though these two books are based on scientific research, they are intended to be written for ordinary readers.
For me, the Opportunity Formula is a way of connecting Meta-theory (mTheory) and General Practice (gPractice).
The above diagram is an expanded version of the HERO U diagram which presents six types of “Objective of Knowing”. Let’s look at the terms I used for the diagram.
sTheory: Specific Theory
aModel: Abstract Model
cModel: Concrete Model
dPractice: Domain Practice
gPractice: General Practice
Is there a direct connection between Meta-theory and General Practice? Can a theorist directly offer his ideas to ordinary readers? The answer refers to another question: How to offer ordinary readers theoretical ideas? The video below is a great example.
The Opportunity Formula inspires me to think more about the way of presenting abstract concepts. I could change my writing style or try other medium formats.
For example, the above diagram shows the “Idea — Act — React” structure.
What does this mean?
It means there are shared ideas between Meta-theory and General Practice. We can identify an idea from both sides. Now I have the ecological practice approach on the Meta-theory side, I could find some ideas about the approach from the General Practice side.
First, I should do “Act” and describe this idea with a real example from real life.
Second, I could ask readers to “React” and find real examples from their real life.
In this way, we can run a round of “Creative Action Learning”.
In a previous article titled Possible Practices: Attach, Detach, and Opportunities, I shared an example of the concept of Attachance. First, I shared a framework called Career API which is for discussing career development. Second, I put a real-life situation in this framework. Third, I apply the concept of Attachance to explain my actions.
The purpose of the Career API is for discussing career development. If we define “Career” as a broad concept including non-paid work such as writing this article, then we can use the Career API to discuss my Google Wifi experience.
- Personal Issues: I can’t find “Google Wifi” on the App Store.
- Problems of Domain: How to design the Self-installation Activity?
- Agenda of the Times: What kind of tech news should be considered as common sense?
We should notice that the above three cognitive domains are located in three different zones. In one particular situation, I detached from one cognitive domain and attached to another cognitive domain. It also means I am detached from the social role of “customer” and attached to another social role of “researcher”.
This is an example of Attachance.
From the perspective of the Ecological Practice approach, the above three cognitive domains are understood as Containers. Three are three types of containers:
- Physical Containers
- Social Containers
- Cognitive Containers
The real-life world is full of such containers. The above three cognitive domains are cognitive containers. The concept of Attachance can be applied to physical containers and social containers too. For example, the “agency — structure” debate is a major topic of social theories. We can understand the social structure as social containers.
So, the Opportunity Formula is a mediating instrument for putting the Ecological Practice approach back into the real-life world. To be honest, it’s not easy to conduct each case study because it requires work on understanding the structure and dynamics of a particular object, at least a particular category of objects.
Search for Opportunities
Why do I use the color of Google’s logo for the Opportunity Formula?
Because Google means search!
For the Opportunity Formula, each color refers to a particular meaning.
- Opportunity: Green. It refers to hope and growth.
- X: Blue. It refers to rational thinking.
- U: Red. It refers to passion and purpose.
- Y: Yellow. It refers to social practices.
- Z: Green. It refers to ecological context.
From the perspective of the Ecological Practice approach, the concept of Opportunity is both subjective and objective. The objective aspect refers to the ecological context which means an objective reality. The subjective aspect refers to a person’s attitude, knowledge, skills, and situation.
While the concept of Affordance which is a core concept of Ecological Psychology refers to physical environments and material objects, the Ecological Practice approach offers more concepts that could be applied to non-material objects such as a picture, a tweet, a theory, an experience, etc.
That means we have a lot of work to do…It is a long journey worthwhile!
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