Problem Solving, Insight vs. Analytical – both are needed in Data Center Optimization

Part of greening a data center means you have staff who think about optimization. At first glance, this may seem like an analytical skill set, but daydreaming and pushing the edges are need as well. There are some extremely talented people who totally get into the algorithms of how power and cooling systems should operate in an adaptive system. Trade-offs are made all the time as they think about how to save power while keeping acceptable conditions.

But, here is an interesting question is this skill analytical or insight (daydreaming)? has an article on Insight.

A Wandering Mind Heads Straight Toward Insight

Researchers Map the Anatomy of the Brain's Breakthrough Moments and Reveal the Payoff of Daydreaming


It happened to Archimedes in the bath. To Descartes it took place in bed while watching flies on his ceiling. And to Newton it occurred in an orchard, when he saw an apple fall. Each had a moment of insight. To Archimedes came a way to calculate density and volume; to Descartes, the idea of coordinate geometry; and to Newton, the law of universal gravity.

Eureka Moments

Five light-bulb moments of understanding that revolutionized science.

In our fables of science and discovery, the crucial role of insight is a cherished theme. To these epiphanies, we owe the concept of alternating electrical current, the discovery of penicillin, and on a less lofty note, the invention of Post-its, ice-cream cones, and Velcro. The burst of mental clarity can be so powerful that, as legend would have it, Archimedes jumped out of his tub and ran naked through the streets, shouting to his startled neighbors: "Eureka! I've got it."

In today's innovation economy, engineers, economists and policy makers are eager to foster creative thinking among knowledge workers. Until recently, these sorts of revelations were too elusive for serious scientific study. Scholars suspect the story of Archimedes isn't even entirely true. Lately, though, researchers have been able to document the brain's behavior during Eureka moments by recording brain-wave patterns and imaging the neural circuits that become active as volunteers struggle to solve anagrams, riddles and other brain teasers.

I liked this article because it reminded me of a team I am working with who get it.

By probing the anatomy of 'aha,' researchers hope for clues to how brain tissue can manufacture a new idea. "Insight is crucial to intellect," Dr. Bhattacharya says.

Taken together, these findings highlight a paradox of mental life. They remind us that much of our creative thought is the product of neurons and nerve chemistry outside our awareness and beyond our direct control.

"We often assume that if we don't notice our thoughts they don't exist," says Dr. Christoff in Vancouver, "When we don't notice them is when we may be thinking most creatively."

Do you have a team who can work in an insight mode as well as analytical?

If your team thinks about models, then there is a high probability they have the capability for insight.

The WSJ has a list of more reading on insight.

Recommended Reading

Daydreaming is more demanding than it seems, researchers reported in "Experience Sampling During fMRI Reveals Default Network and Executive System Contributions to Mind Wandering" in Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences.

A positive mood makes an insight more likely, Northwestern University researchers reported in "A Brain Mechanism for Facilitation of Insight by Positive Affect" in the March edition of Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.

In the journal Neuropsychologia, Drexel University scientists reported on "The Origins of Insight in Resting State Brain Activity."

Together, the two research teams reported that people who solved problems through insight had different brain wave patterns than people who don't. In PLoS Biology, they documented "Neural Activity When People Solve Verbal Problems with Insight" and the "Neural Basis of Solving Problems with Insight."

At the University of London's Goldsmith College, researchers reported in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience that brain waves heralding an insight can be detected 8 seconds before we become conscious of it.