Philosophy of form
The vision, that was created in the previous 3 stages, represents the 2 dimensional abstract foundation of the idea. Using the vision as a reference point, and it's dimensions, we now need to extend the idea into 3 dimensional space, by attributing to it some form of substance. This substance will give the idea mass and size and we will be able to get an idea for how "far away" and how "large" the idea is relative to ourselves, and other ideas, as well as how much actual 3 dimensional space will be taken up by your idea. We can think of this stage as creating the Z axis of depth.
A form is defined by the substance type of space it takes up; mental, physical, cultural or spiritual; and the shape, density, and spatial parameters of said substance. This section will explore how to identify the optimal form that will provide us with the structure for creating a concept.
Creating a form
There are alternative conditions which will determine how you approach choosing a form:
1. The form is a necessary requirement to fulfill the first principles of your idea, e.g. flying to get somewhere fast requires a functional physical form.
2. The form is not implied by the first principles of your idea, e.g. you have a new business services idea but don't know the best way to embody it.
3. You want to use an existing vision with a new function which will require a new form, e.g. your vision is digital insurance and you already have a digital insurance application but want to build a new driving app within the same insurance vision structure.
If you fall into the first stage then choosing a form is a matter of finding the optimal form that fulfills the necessary function outlined in the first principles. The physical requirements in the first example give us a relatively easy definition of what our basic form should be. It's shape and size will all be determined by physical optimizations that will enable flying. In this case we recommend reading more about "The Philosopher" archetype to understand how to integrate the knowledge and wisdom of the philosopher archetype to design and create a substance that will best achieve the required function.
In the second case finding a form is a more creative endeavor where you will need to evaluate multiple options to determine what type of form would best embody the spirit of your idea. Similarly with the prior stages, this will mean an exercise of enchanting your idea by exploring all of the existing concepts that embody similar visions. With the inspiration from looking at existing ideas, you might come up with some ideas for how you could embody your idea, then these can be used as the first form concepts. It's encouraged to have multiple types of forms identified - they will be evaluated at various stages through the idea development progress. We recommend having a look at "The Philosopher" path to get a better idea of how you could engage with an archetype for inspiration on choosing a form for your idea.
In the third case where you want to use a new function with an existing vision, then the new function will be represented as a new form which falls under the category of a new concept. In the given example of creating a new function with a driving app under the existing vision of digital insurance, the form would become a driving application, which is distinct from an insurance application. How we find the form of a driving app will be informed by both how we created the other concepts under the same vision, and the form of other driving apps. We encourage creating multiple forms, and concepts, under the same vision as a great way to provide synergies between the ideas so they can co-operate and develop an idea pool of ideas heading in the same direction.
Types of form substances
Physical ideas are those that are tangible and are based in physical causality. Not all ideas need a physical component if you subscribe to the philosophy of idealism, where some ideas do exert influence over us and each other without needing a physical embodiment; e.g. spirits & other non-local entities, gravity, inertia etc. However for our applications, unless we are attempting to change something on the non physical level or alter the laws of gravity itself then we will assume that most ideas will require a physical embodiment.
Mental ideas exist primarily in the minds of people. These include things like political ideas, stories, narratives, philosophies, and theories. For ideas that exist mostly in the minds of people the physical embodiment could be a user interface and physical electronic storage, or a book which embodies the mental concept of the idea. Most ideas will be a combination of physical and mental forms.
"Democracy is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder" - Plato
Form is the first step towards the creation of an embodiment of your vision. In the Plato quote above, government is the vision, and democracy is the form; where there are many forms that could embody the vision of a government. This stage marks the point of departure from exploring and tinkering with the imaginal, and we start to give substance to our ideas and explore the multiple forms that can embody the vision explored in the first three stages.
It is here that we will get our first glimpse into how proximate the idea is and how ambitious it is. We will be able to conceptualize the actual space that the idea takes up, including its volume, various shapes and density, and evaluate it's ambitions relative to similar concepts.
Whichever substance you choose to embody your idea, you will also need to determine its shape, scale, density and spatial parameters. We recommend understanding more about the "The Philosopher" path and archetype to get some ideas of how to engage meta knowledge on the subject matter; specifically on the X axis / primary first principle of your idea.
Spatial distribution is determined by how the substance of your idea is optimally distributed across space to fulfill the vision of the idea. You will need to ask whether the space will be evenly distributed, centralized around an axion, distributed across multiple places etc. Mental ideas will typically be distributed across multiple locations and substances - both physically and mentally, i.e. in the physical mediums that present the ideas and in the minds of the people who hold them. Some physical ideas will also be distributed across multiple locations; e.g. multiple units of a physical product.
The hard rule is that the spatial distribution and form should represent the vision of the idea; and if you find a great spatial configuration and it doesn't match the vision of the idea, then that may be a sign that the vision needs to be recalibrated with some new inputs. New insights might be born out of the search for a form, which were overlooked during the creation of the X and Y axis in the previous stages. Don't be afraid to adjust the vision, so long as the vision represents the universal first principles of your idea.
Evaluating Spatial Decisions
There will be multiple opportunities to evaluate the forms as final concepts in latter stages. Here we only want to narrow our spatial evaluation to the actual implications that the size and form of an idea could have on the spatial dimensions around it.
With a form, or forms, identified we can now explore the implications of this form on space itself, and on the space of the ideas around it. The form gives us a glimpse of a theoretical 3 dimensional space AND mass - and mass will play a very important role in determining how your idea will interact with ideas around it.
There are two main properties of a form to consider when evaluating the idea at this stage: Proximity and Size.
With these properties evaluated you can choose a scale, that iis implied by the size, but the context of size is dependent on the chosen scale; large and small sizes are relative to their frames of reference.
Proximity describes how imminent the idea is; light can now "bounce" off a 3 dimensional concept to give us an idea of how far away or how close the idea is. Mental proximity is how imminent the idea is in our minds, and physical proximity is where the idea is in relation to other physical things.
Size is how large the idea is. Mental size is determined by how much space the idea takes up in the universe, i.e. if it's everywhere or localized, and physical size is literally how much physical space the idea takes up.
We can determine the proximity of an idea by measuring how much knowledge of it exists in the world. A far away idea might be one that has been recently discovered, e.g. plastic eating bacteria. We know that it exists, but we don't collectively know much about it. A far away idea can be said to be a fringe or niche idea, or very far from reality. In a business context the proximity of an idea can be correlated with it's industry trend; e.g. emerging, mature or saturated. Emerging ideas are still quite far away, and will require more energy to bring closer, while mature ideas are firmly established in our frame of reference and are readily available.
Ideas that are very close would be analogous to ideas that have been in our frame of reference for a very long time, i.e. the wheel has been firmly entrenched in our collective understanding for thousands of years - ideas don't come much closer than that. Ideas also have a tendency to drift further and closer over time; this will be a consideration for stage 5. time.
We can determine the size of an idea by how common the idea is in the universe. Matter or anti-matter, gravity and light are all extremely large universal ideas, the number 1 is more common than the number 29102 and so on. The more frequently the idea appears in the universe the larger the idea. Humanity might be a large idea in our frame of reference, but on a universal scale we are quite small (unless there are other versions of us out there).
The proximity and size of your idea will determine how accessible and ambitious the idea is, how it will impact ideas around it, and potential obstacles to look out for.
Small close ideas e.g. Toy trains, they're niche and have been around for a while and everyone knows of them. This space is crowded, but there are probably small spaces that can still be filled left by the densely squeezed in shapes of other small ideas. Caution that the idea doesn't become too large so that it doesn't create friction with larger ideas. Smaller ideas will have to have a strong identity and boundaries, to resist being integrated into larger ideas.
Large close ideas e.g. Insurance, already have an imminent presence in day to day life, and will be the most accessible ideas to develop and engage with. This is where ideas have the most immediate and influential impact, but it is a net 0 sum game and difficult to find space. It will need to be as large if not larger than the existing ideas to not get swallowed by the gravity of surrounding ideas. These ideas are constantly changing and being redefined by the smaller ideas that are continually integrated into them.
Small far ideas e.g. Plastic eating bacteria, we only recently discovered these and not many people are aware of them. Ideas here have an immense amount of space to navigate, which means they are free to go in any direction. However they have a tendency to get lost in all that space, and they can be easily attracted by the larger gravity of other ideas.
Large far ideas e.g. AI, everyone knows of it, but we are still discovering more and more about its impacts. These ideas have a lot of room to navigate, like smaller far away ideas. However they will attract many other smaller ideas so their meaning and impact will change a lot in the process of coming closer. They are far less predictable and unstable, and when they meet another large distant idea instead of being integrated like smaller ideas they could create a cataclysmic event.
This stage is for tinkering with a forms spatial parameters to make it larger or smaller based on what kind of idea we want to work with. Closer ideas will be easier to bring into the world but they will need to find the space, while further ideas are less predictable. Larger ideas will have more impact, but they will also face more resistance and change over time. The scale you choose, microscopic, or macroscopic will determine how to define the size of your idea relative to its context.
There is always a compromise to be made, if you would like some help determining this compromise, or exploring the spatial dimensions of your idea then don't hesitate to contact us! We thrive on dialogue about ideas, so even if you just want a casual discussion or tips; contact us.
Inputs: X Axis, Vision & Ideality Statements
Outcomes: Identified proximity, depth and size of the idea
Identified scale of the idea
Identified a type of form/forms, including their spatial dimensions and shapes
Archetypes in focus
Philosopher for broadly embodying the contrast spectrum
Protagonist to command the balance between form and motion
Specialist to design the form
Logician to balance the form