Parallel Action – how you move.

February 27, 2010


Think about what happens when you work in a linear fashion – you wait right? Most process models are designed so that “B” can’t start until “A” is finished. This makes getting from A to Z time consuming, not to mention – it leaves no room for exploration, experimentation and failure. Wait, failure? Yes. Failures in a process are necessary for evolving an idea and even starting over if needed. “Parallel action” allows for these steps to occur and is the difference between work that is good or work that is great.




This type of thinking isn’t relatively new. Edward DeBono (one of the world’s leading thinkers about thinking, and founder of “The six thinking hats”) says this about “parallel thinking“:

“Parallel Thinking is not about philosophy but about the practical thinking required to get things done.

For two and a half thousand years we have followed the thinking system designed by the Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, based on analysis, judgment and argument. Is this traditional thinking sufficient today? The old boxes are no longer adequate to cope with today’s rapidly changing world. So judgment and argument can no longer solve problems or move us forward. We need to switch from judgment to design. How can we design forward from ‘parallel possibilities’?

– Accept possibilities without judging and lay them down in parallel

– Accept both sides of a contradiction and lay them down in parallel

– Then design forward from parallel possibilities”

– Edward DeBono

So what’s the difference between “parallel thinking” and “parallel action”? It’s the “action” part? Seriously, there are times you can improve a project just by moving it forward –  working at the same pace as others within a process. It’s far better to share what has been developed, allowing for movement instead of waiting until others are finished with their role in that process.  This requires more communication and constant feedback, thus everyone moves in parallel.




Here’s the trick. There is a reason for order within a process. It maintains integrity of key components like research, insights and ensures deadlines are met. So there still needs to be certain “linear actions” taking place. It’s like parallel action taking place while linear movement still exists. If this sounds like chaos it could be, but only if you’re in the wrong mindset.

Creativity is difficult if your intentions are to create something great – something unique. It’s why some people refer to the creative process as a “science”. It’s definitely, if done correctly, not subjective. It takes effort and commitment in it’s communication and sharing of information. This process also demands respect and real collaboration with those involved. Being able to say, “Your idea is better than mine” means dropping egos and playing with a humble attitude. Hilman Curtis, an artist well known for creative process states:

“Cooperation is the foundation of any team effort. It’s a basic idea, one that goes way back to kindergarden when your teacher pleaded with you to play well with others. But as basic as it is, we all forget its importance.” – Hilman Curtis

Parallel action allows for producing great work that yields amazing results. Just like anything in life it insists on honesty, commitment, constant communication and a desire to be unique. Employing this type of action within a process can be difficult to manage.  However, once achieved, it’s like butta.

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One Response to “Parallel Action – how you move.”

  1. caretocreate Says:

    Funny way of showing what it might feel like when people aren’t working in parallel.


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