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From Awareness to Integration: The AOAEI Loop, A Generalized Problem-solving Tool

Friday April 24, 2020

I’ve been thinking—what is an awareness-first problem-solving process that I can really recommend? It should be one that integrates awareness as a starting factor, and then builds on top. It also needs to be a process that gives the awareness full credit for what it can do, while suggesting follow-on steps. Awareness may be key, but it’s also not everything.

I wasn’t really happy with existing paradigms (and I don’t have time to go researching every problem-solving paradigm out there, that’s for sure), so here’s my own shot at it.

These are the steps in what I’ll call the AOAEI Loop (pronounced “Away Loop”):

  1. Awareness
  2. Observation
  3. Analysis
  4. Execution
  5. Integration (then back to the start)

Here are some of the major inputs at various stages of the loop:

  1. Awareness <— Calls upon Passive-Energetic Inputs
  2. Observation <— Calls upon Sensational Inputs
  3. Analysis <— Calls upon Logical Inputs (Typically starting with organization of information)
  4. Execution <— Calls upon Intuitive Inputs (Conceptualization)
  5. Integration <— Calls upon Executive-Energetic Inputs (Concretization)

Integration is a step which is concerned with change-energy—you’ve executed and now there’s this brand new outcome / identity / form / format to integrate into your consciousness. It changes your very state of being. It often ushers in a reflective energy, along with a new form of prospective transcendence-energy in which your “self” or even team identity has changed. This in turn becomes part of, and affects, your new awareness…

Documenting the changes or new knowledge as part of the Integration step can greatly enhance results from using the AOAEI loop.

Personality Ramifications?

While this isn’t meant to “fit” any given personality type model, I’d guess that EJ personality types tend to be skilled in the final steps E & I. IP types would tend to be more skilled in the initial steps AOA (I’ll call the second A “A2”).

IJ types (like us INTJs) would then need to build gap-bridging competence through A, O, A2, and E. EP types would need to build gap-bridging competence from I through A2.

In general though, being of a type wouldn’t automatically make one more competent than someone else in any particular area. For example, quickly drawing on the intuition to execute on a problem doesn’t say much about the quality of the conceptualized solution; some qualitative work on the imaginative-iterative process is probably a good idea for most people.

Compared to OODA Loop

One concept of which I was aware going into this was the OODA Loop. OODA never caught on for me, I think in part because it’s mostly hard, and not as hard and soft as it could be. Here’s how I see the major differences:

  • AOAEI directly integrates the “soft” concepts of feelings, energy, and the intuition. (These are relevant even in a military context!)
  • AOAEI Begins with Awareness, which in my view is different (often much different) from Observation. Cultivating awareness is a specific activity which can even serve its own ends.
  • AOAEI Ends with Integration, which yields a deeper and longer effect than “Action,” especially if integrated with recall. Capture of the Integration step is also a “soft process” which can yield results like the activation of a reward system, a celebration, etc.
  • AOAEI is a bit more simple and elegant, if I do say so myself ;-)

A Basic Exercise

  • Think of a problem of which you’ve recently become aware.
  • Write down your observations of the problem, either as you can recall it, or as you actively observe it, or both.
  • Bring some organization to the observations. Can they be organized by time, location, level of rest, people involved, etc.?
  • What does your intuition or imagination tell you would make a good thing to try or test next, in order to help solve the problem?
  • What happened when you tried it?
  • You are now a changed being—and perhaps your problem set has changed as well. Start again with your new pool of experience and energy inputs. Of what are you now more aware than you were before? Or how has your awareness changed?

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