We Rep [Ideas]

On Asymmetry and Imagination 01

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The purpose of this material is to describe points of departure framing a foundation for exploration into nature of Asymmetry as it applies to Imagination, as a promising subject.  Our intention is to produce useful and teachable tools and methods for identifying business applications and identifying alternative and complementary knowledge products for education.

Introduction – Scope of asymmetry

Global Security defines asymmetry as it is described in the United States Army; “dissimilarities in organization, equipment, doctrine, capabilities, and values.”

For the purpose of framing our scope and use of asymmetry we describe Symmetrical Literacy as the widely held knowledge of, and participation in forms of learning, expression and living that are established and practiced. They are in balance with the way people read and write, interpret, intuit, act and interact towards and with each other and the world. Solely thinking within the constraints of this “space” limit individuals and organizations from making the leaps required to engage in new value creation.

}  Is there a shift of focus from symmetrical to asymmetrical literacy?

}  Are we facing an emergent need to combine and synthesize a spectrum of literacies into a more comprehensive whole?

}  Is there an all-encompassing ecology of literacies from which a more potent,

“full-spectrum imagination” can rise?


Both literacy and imagination standards are embedded within shared tradition of increasing complexity, competition and co-operation.  The imagination has always been, and will always be, the ultimate human resource: shaping and defining our achievements, or lack thereof.

We believe that multiple literacies add to and increase the “imagination potential” of individuals and organizations, and that this will emerge or be discovered more so within the realm of asymmetry.


Asymmetry is more than the opposite of symmetry, and represents a vast range of alternative possibilities to the imagination, beyond what is known and accepted. One form of asymmetry in action may be described as the unconventional, unpredictable, non-traditional utility of elements and properties found within everyday technological, political, economic social, cultural systems. We believe the complimentary concepts of symmetry-asymmetry are both present in every context and can be considered a continuum rather than a dichotomy. The shift in what is considered symmetric or asymmetric behaviors is always coming in and out of balance as technology, custom and routine are individually, socially and culturally negotiated. What is asymmetric is continually reframed and restocked by the rate in which ways of thinking are adopted and antiquated. Meaning we are defining what is symmetric by what we do collectively.


}  What great human achievement has not been asymmetric?

}  To what extent will the education of the left side of the brain, the concrete and sequential be automated?

}  Will educators of the future favor the study and development of the imagination as a discipline?


Forms of Asymmetry to be EXPLORED

Outside of the Known – Venturing into the unknown to survey new forms of possibility. Challenging perceived limits and barriers for the purpose of retrieving unique and beneficial knowledge.

Atypical Function, Typical Forms – Every variable in the environment can be leveraged either normally or abnormally. Inside or outside of conventional use, asymmetry in action is the nontraditional or novel utilization of resources disproportionate to another individual or organization.

Asymmetric Thought and Behavior – Exploring deviations from the excepted norms of how one should think and behave.  Seeing different, acting different and being different in light of motivations that exist for no other, providing glimpses into tomorrows normal.

Coping, let alone competing, within this context will be defined by individuals and organizations that; shape “issues” rather than be shaped by them (US Army); who have the ability to apply vision, understanding, clarity, and agility to volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous situations (Johansen); and integrate, non-linear approaches to seeing, knowing and doing- Integrative Thinking (Martin).


Written by rthomas

November 27, 2009 at 5:33 am

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