The greatest ideas typically result from Abductive Reasoning, where one looks at a set of seemingly unrelated data with the understanding that a solution is there.
Two additional reasoning methods can be used to develop ideas and explore opportunities, Deductive and Inductive Reasoning.
Deductive Reasoning (DR) begins with a Theory, an observation or speculation about a particular interest or subject; a belief. According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, a definition of Theory is a “supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, esp. one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained.” A Hypotheses is then formed around the Theory, to provide an explanation that is not based on concrete evidence. Through a series of testing, observations and prototyping the Theory is proven either true or false. DR works from the general to the specific.
- Application: DR works well with existing ideas (products, services, beliefs). Implementing DR in a creative session can expose weaknesses of a particular idea, thus providing an opportunity to improve the idea, or create a new one.
Inductive Reasoning (IR) works from the specifics (observations, testing, prototyping) to the general (The Theory).
- Application – IR is a great tool that can be used by entrepreneurs to identify and capitalize on trends. By observing cultural nuances, social shifts and early-adopter behaviors, theories can be concluded and turned into entrepreneurial opportunities.
Having a broader understanding of reasoning and logic, additional approaches are available for identifying and generating ideas.