Giving rise to effective solutions by simplifying the complexities of a situation/ product/ business is the pattern of First Principles Thinking Process. Elon Musk has pointed out this process for running his business.
Thinking about how one's thinking process should be is a rare practice. Only a few of us do that and they are generally the most successful minds.
Reaching the building blocks of a situation/ product/ process/ idea includes the First Principles Thinking Process- now famously the Elon Musk Thought Process.
"Are you a person who likes to work on everything through basics?
Are you a person who likes to think of all perspectives before finding a solution?
Do you like root-cause analysis?"
Then ‘First Principles Thinking’ is for you.
Elon Musk Thoughts
How does Elon Musk learn and think?
Questioning everything one assumes is the basic; getting to the bottom of all the thoughts while working on a solution.
Starting from Aristotle to Elon Musk, many great minds use a very powerful thinking framework – ‘First Principles thinking’.
In the words of Elon Musk of his thought process, the richest man on the planet currently, says, "I tend to approach things from a physics framework. Physics teaches you to reason from first principles rather than by analogy. "
To put it simply, reaching the foundation truth of a situation is what is the first principle thinking.
‘First Principles’ can be defined as a thought process that involves breaking any idea, problem, or situation into the most fundamental elements. Then these fundamental elements are worked upon to find solutions at their level and interlaced with the solutions of other elements in order to identify the final solution.
How to develop First Principle Thinking?
If you want to develop a high-performance engine, First-principles thinking asks you to break into elements based on understanding the working of each and every component of the engine, where the performance is hindered, and where there is scope for change.
After this, you look for solutions to each and every problem, alternatives in improving the performance of the engine. Once solutions to all elements are identified, an overall solution is developed through assimilation of the individual solutions. Though, assessing the compatibility of these individual solutions is an additional step.
Simple- you learn the complexity only when you know a product from the scratch. So, we are not only just focusing on improvement but also sometimes reshape the direction of improvement, in fact even leading to innovations.
Benefits of First Principle Thinking
While people with good problem-solving skills and attention to detail can adapt to this thought process very easily;
Broader the overall objective, the more layers in dividing the objectives into the fundamental elements;
Success rates improve through this approach;
Discrepancies can be understood and figured out properly; Once you figure out one, you know the consequences can be predicted and analyzed
Exploring widely will result in better substitutes of existing; thus, knowing the basics holds utmost value and saves time in brainstorming for improvements;
Even though there are many approaches and philosophies, ‘First Principles’ play a major role in coming up with major breakthroughs and outstanding results;
The First Principle tactic will also help to carry out cross-domain innovations since the basics need to be worked upon
It may not be suitable for everyone, but if you are able to adapt it, definitely follow this approach.
Understanding First Principle Thought Process
The best way to understand the first principle thought process is:
Head to the basics
Find the truth of a situation
Understand each step/ each component
Give attention to detail
Assimilate individual solution
Be it product development or a service offering, the first-principles theory works wonders, if we have the knack to work through this approach. This theory can also be applied to solve team issues, define the process to create better team management systems too. It is like knowing the nature of roots such that you can provide the minerals and water accordingly to let them develop well.
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