In many ways, we are our memories. The rich tapestry of thoughts, deeds, viewpoints, skills, loves and passions that we store in our memory defines who we are and what we can do.
Because this is so, ‘memory’ is central to what we do at Got-A-Head®? We want to help you “Think Better, Do Better, Feel Better”, so a crucial step is helping you use your memory to best effect. Your relationship with your memory should be a bit like a gardener’s one with their garden. Your memory will keep on growing, even if you ignore it, but it will repay you tenfold if you put in a bit of effort to plan, structure and manage it properly. In memory terms, Got-A-Head®? can give you a trellis for your climbing roses to flourish.
Okay, that sounds great, but how do we plan, structure, and manage our memory?
"Intelligence is the wife, imagination is the mistress, memory is the servant."
Let’s look at a very simple approximation of a bit of memory; lots of ideas, models, viewpoints, images, sounds, smells, tastes all jumbled up together. Crucially, they are all associated with other memories. Memories are not isolated, they are part of your own internal model of the world, and of your life. These associations vary in strength.
Starting from ‘Memory A’, the stronger the association between them, the easier it will be to bring ‘Memory B’ to mind. From here, you can build up a train of thought as you go from memory to memory along a path of associations. But, that train of thought is likely to be determined by the strength of the associations. Your mind prefers to travel along its trunk roads, not its side streets. This may mean, in turn, that useful memories may not come to mind because the links to them from your starting point are not strong enough.
This brings us on to what we at Got-A-Head®? are trying to help you do with your memory. Our aim is to help you strengthen associations, structure the things you want to remember in such a way as to make them more easily accessible, and, importantly, give you a wider set of starting points so you have a better chance of getting to that killer idea, as is shown here.
Let’s have a look at this from the point of view of the Got-A-Head®? Thinking Toolkit. Suppose we have a task where we need to create something and so we use our creativity tool, QWERTY®, to help us. We will have a set of ‘requirements’ for that task. We want to take those, and get all the concepts, ideas and prior experience that are lurking in the depths of our memory. How best can we do this?
Going back to the graphic representation of our memory, we could view the situation in the following way. We have a memory that could generate useful ideas (the concepts, ideas, and prior experience we mentioned earlier). However, if we think only about what we are required to do for the task, we may well miss out lots of useful ideas. This is because their associations with the terms in our mind from reading the requirements are not strong enough. What can we do to improve that situation?
Here, we use a Forget-Me-Not called MORE Inspiration to help capture ideas, concepts and experiences that would be useful to remember in this context, but you might otherwise have missed.
We use a second set of tools from our Thinking Toolkit, namely Forget-Me-Nots. We call our Forget-Me-Nots thinking enhancers, as that is exactly what they do.
Forget-Me-Nots come in several families. MORE Inspiration, and others that we use to harvest a better crop of ideas and concepts and experiences, are in the Farmer family of Forget-Me-Nots.
In this example, we can use Chain Reaction to prompt us for prior experiences and Remember, Research, Remember to help improve the efficiency of our research.
We have talked about maximising how much we can use our memory to help us with creative tasks. But, of course, our memory has three jobs to do:
Record new memories.
Retain the memories we’ve recorded.
Retrieve the memories we’ve retained.
We’ve looked at the last one, but not the first two. One very important aspect of recording new memories is to learn from experience. As when extracting memories, tools in the Got-A-Head®? Thinking Toolkit work together to maximise learning from previous experience.
Lessons we have learned need to be captured, memorised, and integrated into future plans so they are more easily retrieved when the next task has to be done.
This is where we are at Got-A-Head®? now. We have started our journey by concentrating on products to help with creativity, finding solutions, and answering questions. However, we have other products in development that will help you improve your relationship with your memory and, in particular, recording and retaining your memories.
If we go back to our memory model, it took the addition of extra cues to get all the relevant ideas out of our memory.
However, consider what this looks like, if we structure our memories better, clustering our memories into tight-knit interconnected groups with very strong associations. We suddenly get much better output, with all the related memories remembered from only one stimulus.
What have we done here?
We have clustered our memories into small groups to match our working memory size. More on this below.
We have made our groups hierarchical so in the middle group most of the five memories are strongly connected to a sub-group.
We have made the connections within the groups and in the hierarchy very strong.
We have made lots of weaker connections to other memories (not shown) outside the cluster and hierarchy.
At this point you might be saying, “This is all fine and dandy, and it would be really nice if we could bring all these things to mind at once.” But then you ask: “Isn’t reorganising your memory a whole lot of work?” You’d be right, which is why we’ve started Got-Head®? to help you do it.
We’ll start off with what we cannot do. We can’t give you a photographic memory. We can’t guarantee you will never forget anything again. We can’t make it easy, only easier.
An important example is ‘Working Memory’ or ‘Short Term Memory’ This is a measure of how many things you can keep in your mind at one go. Current research says this is fixed. What you have now is what you will always have. Our Got-A-Head®? Thinking Toolkit can’t increase your working memory, but it can help you organise your learning and thinking to improve how you use it.
Let’s look further at what we can do. There are a lot more links in the second set of diagrams than in the first. You need to make these associations in your own thinking. The Forget-Me-Nots are excellent at helping you do just that. We have three more families that are there to help.
Pioneer Forget-Me-Nots are specifically designed to link ideas and concepts in ways that are new to you. They are there to get you discover more about what you already know, by getting you to look at the situation you are thinking about in entirely new ways or to see links between things that you hadn’t considered before.
Scientist Forget-Me-Nots are there to get you to consider what you know in detail. To think about things closely, to consider what they are, what they can do. They ask how you can determine what is good and bad about a thing. Critically, whether they can be made simpler, or more complicated. They tie into the Pioneer Forget-Me-Nots by relating all these ideas to similar analysis of other ideas, concepts or objects.
Then you have the Judge Forget-Me-Nots which judge ideas and concepts or compare them. Again, you can use these in combination with the Pioneer and Scientist Forget-Me-Nots to enrich your understanding.
Now let’s look at how we can help you decide how you will group your ideas together in clusters and how you will strengthen the associations you have between ideas. At this point, we are looking to the future of our Thinking Toolkit. We have three products in development that will help you here.
The first new product will help you understand. It will encourage you to consider relationships between situations, things, people. It will get you to work out in fine detail what are the critical factors in those relationships, and what are less critical. It will help you chain bits of understanding together into appreciations of process.
The second new product works in the other direction. That will encourage you to consider how you will explain things to others. If you wanted to talk to somebody or write an essay about something how best would you get your points over? What order would you put them in? What would be the best evidence you could give to support them? The more your ideas are structured in your memory in a related structure to the way you need to organise your ideas to communicate your point, the easier getting your point across will be.
These two products will help you decide how you will structure your memory. What is best to bind closely together and what should be remembered one step away, or lower or higher in your memory hierarchy?
The third product is about strengthening associations and keeping them strong. It is based upon the five principles of memory association, how best to add new ideas to your memory,
Connections, Organisation, Meaningfulness, Images and Concept or COMIC
and the five principles of strengthening and maintaining connections to memories you already have,
Repetition, Ease, Location, Interest and Examining Feedback or RELIEF
This product will make it easier to come up with mnemonics that will help build memorise facts you need to learn and build strong connections between them and then help you schedule regular revision to make sure that the connections to those memories remain permanent.
To finish off, we’d like to leave you with this thought. All those factors linked by ‘COMIC RELIEF’ are very personal. Your memory is your memory not anyone else’s. The things you store in it are your experiences of your life, not anyone else’s. They are linked to the places you have been, the situations you have been in, not anyone else. The things that interest you are your interests, not anyone else’s. They are absorbed through your senses, not anyone else’s. Of course, we can be in the same place as other people, experience the same events and learn the same lessons. But our experiences and our memory are our own, our totally unique view of the world. Your memories are precious and irreplaceable and should be treasured by you, and by us all. Like everything we do at Got-A-Head®? we want to help you with your memory so you can Think Better, Do Better, Feel Better.