Double-Entry A-Ha! Method
A really simple, easy, idea-generating
and problem-solving device

by Win Wenger, Ph.D.

Double-Entry A-Ha! Method (DEAM) is our latest little device, an idea-generating method which is surprisingly simple and surprisingly productive despite its simplicity. It's as simple as writing on two sheets of paper at a time instead of on one.

Now that's simple, isn't it?

Well, there are a few more details to the process. DEAM, created in October 2005, resulted from our search for a creativity and problem-solving method so easy and effective that literally everyone can use it successfully the very first try.

DEAM is part of the Evoked Sidebands method for problem-solving and for building understanding. Evoked Sidebands was created in March 2005.

Evoked Sidebands is, in turn, part of the new major Sidebands technology which we've been building since 2005. It helps us to carry forward our Toolbuilder premise — that the best use of a good method for solving problems is on the problem of how to create even better such methods.

If only more people besides us followed that obvious premise! Some of the problems solved as a result would be the great problems of common concern, and the world would be a much better place.

The "Double-Entry" part of the title, the "DE" in DEAM, refers to the method's writing on two pieces of paper at the same time. On one sheet you write your brief topic-to-be-understood, or question or problem. While you are writing that, though, you give priority attention to whatever thoughts and perceptions you notice coming to you during that problem-writing, and record these on the second sheet of paper. Often you'll fill the second sheet with such comments and observations before completely writing a single sentence of your problem-statement on the first sheet.

The thoughts and perceptions and observations had been there all along; they just hadn't been noticed before. Deciding to notice them, and giving priority to them in your writing — and your act of writing them onto your second sheet — bring them into view for you. You may be amazed at how many ideas you have, and how many of those ideas are relevant and even good, once you proceed to write down everything that comes.

DEAM is an amazingly simple way to bring your ideas into view, to where you can review them and pick among them for the best. Be sure to write them all out first, before judging and deciding which may be any good and which aren't. Save the judging until you've gotten them all down on that second sheet of paper and have something there to judge.


Summary of what DEAM is and does:

With Double-Entry A-Ha! Method, find that you are able to —

  • Generate great ideas and answers with extraordinary ease and fluency, as part of almost any problem-solving method. DEAM originally was and is part of the extraordinary Evoked Sidebands method, also primarily an idea-generating device.

  • DEAM is a powerful tool for understanding almost any situation quickly, easily, and in meaningful, useful depth.

  • DEAM is a powerful learning tool, for any topic or subject where understanding is needed.
DEAM is especially useful in science, in the arts, or on the job. And in human or interpersonal or personal matters. And in technical matters.

Is the Double-Entry A-Ha! Method so easy and so powerfully productive that even your slower friends or students or family members or managers or bosses can easily learn, master, and power their ways forward with this method? If you are already a genius — could DEAM easily and powerfully propel even you forward? Only you can answer that for sure. Read on and make it work for you.


Resources you have as part of a natural reflex:

You have a lot more going on in your mind than in your conscious thoughts — a lot more even in your immediate physical sight than you consciously notice. As you sweep through a room on your way to someplace else, for example, you might not notice that room's most important features or even a long-lost object sitting there in plain sight that you had been looking for, because your attention was someplace else.

You have literally hundreds of lines of thought, and streams of perception, going on in your mind at the same time. Ordinarily, though, you never get around to noticing them, however important some of them may be to you.

Any time that you are trying to solve a problem, understand a situation, figure out someone or something, or learn a key point in a lesson — your effort to do so reflexively evokes dozens of unnoticed lines of thought and perception in you. Most of these point directly to the very understanding that you seek — but you never noticed them! You shrugged away even the few that you did notice even just a bit, because they seemed to be distractions to you, having little if anything to do with the task at hand. And so you went back to struggling with the problem, situation or question.

Next time you start a problem or question and for a moment find your thoughts and perception somewhere else entirely, seemingly on something having nothing to do with that problem or question, try following out and investigating that "somewhere else" in detail and depth and see if you don't come to some remarkable insights.

Double-Entry A-Ha! Method is an easy way to pick up on some of the lines of thought and perception which are at the very edges of what you are able to notice when you pay attention to those edges.

Double-Entry A-Ha! Method is an immediate, direct way for you to notice some of the most productive of these sidebands of your awareness, to pick them out and to bring them into your fully conscious focus of attention. Once in focused attention, you can judge their value, use them, and come to understand whatever it was that you were trying to figure out. Here is how it works:


Instructions how to do DEAM:
  • Have ready two sheets of paper and a pen or pencil.

  • Have a question or problem or situation-to-understand ready in your mind to write out, in two or three short sentences, in your own regular handwriting. Before you do so, though,

  • Prepare and intend to notice and record any other thought or perception which comes to your mind WHILE you are writing your question, problem-statement or situation description.

  • Give priority to recording any sideband awareness which comes to you while writing your question. Give priority to writing or recording that sideband awareness, even though it interrupts your writing of your question in mid-sentence or even mid-word.

Within five to ten minutes, you should have somewhere between five and twenty-five thoughts and awarenesses, recorded by this simple device of paying attention to your sidebands while writing your question, and giving priority in writing to what is in those sidebands. Some of these will be new ideas which you would not have reached by conventional methods.

With all the writing of thoughts, perceptions and ideas on the second sheet, it may take you ten to twenty minutes to get the complete task done, even though the writing of the initial question or topic statement alone on just the one sheet would have taken you but a half-minute. You are likely to become very much surprised at how this perceptual-focusing device generates such a rich flow of diverse ideas for you.

Some of the ideas which seem at first to be irrelevant and/or off-the-wall will, when you are done and are free to evaluate them, turn out to be brilliant. Your best ideas likely will occur near the end of the process. Just get them recorded for now; don't judge whether they are good or bad. Record all the ideas first; judge among them only afterward.

Let's try DEAM now, on a question or issue or problem you would very much like to figure out. Get the topic or question to the point where you can write it out.

  1. Line up two sheets of paper and a pen or pencil.

  2. Prepare to write a problem statement or question or topic to understand, on the first sheet, but before you start writing it —

  3. Intend to write, on the second sheet, everything that comes to mind WHILE you are writing the brief question or topic on the first sheet.

  4. Surprise yourself.

Orienting comment:

DEAM is mainly an idea-generating device, though it can be used to build understanding in a subject being learned. The more comprehensive Evoked Sidebands is also in large part an understanding-generating and idea-generating device, corresponding most closely to the first three steps of the Osborn-Parnes CPS process and easily combined with that or other problem-solving processes to become a complete problem-solving procedure. One may also "stage out" the specific steps of Evoked Sidebands, as with the Brainstorming/Convergence cycle in the Osborn-Parnes, each cycle based upon the outcome of the previous cycle, to make it a complete problem-solving procedure.

See  Evoked Sidebands

Invitation: It is my hope that you will test out this remarkably simple method in your own experience — and that you will like the results so well that you will want to share them with people whom you care about. ... And that you do have people whom you care about. If they in turn also like their results well enough, it is possible that the simple act of making these instructions further available may just help improve things more generally. Worth the experiment?

Comments to
Win Wenger

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