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Understanding ThoughtOffice
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Understanding ThoughtOffice

In order to make the most of ThoughtOffice, it is important to understand the general concepts underlying ThoughtOffice and the key features that are used to bring it all together.  

This section covers the following topics:

•What is ThoughtOffice?  A brief overview.
•Associative Thinking
•Brainstorming-How to brainstorm using ThoughtOffice.
•Session-Your brainstorming document.
•Entries-The building blocks of your Session Document
•Topics Browser-Your eXpertTopic Module database and viewer.
•eXpertTopic Modules-Topic Outlines containing open-ended questions surrounding a particular subject.
•IdeaBrowser-Your brainstorming search engine.
ThoughtOffice What is ThoughtOffice?

ThoughtOffice is a creativity and brainstorming software application that was designed to help the user do the following:

•Drill down on any situation
•Solve a problem
•Explore creative options
•Develop a killer solution or strategy

ThoughtOffice is based on the concept of Associative Thinking and is comprised of a unique set of tools to simply this process. A person using ThoughtOffice can begin to address any situation or problem in three different ways, or by using a combination of them:

1. By using your own imagination, knowledge, and ideas you already have stored in your brain.
2. By using eXpertTopic Modules on a specific subject that addresses the situation or problem you need to solve.
3. By using the IdeaBrowser to perform web-based searches for words, phrases, concepts, and images that stimulate new associations and ideas.

All of these features and processes are designed to help you create a Session document that captures every link and association you make in the above 3 ways.

Associative Thinking Associative Thinking is the process of making associations or following threads between ideas by connecting words, ideas, phrases, memories, concepts, and experiences.  It is this process that ThoughtOffice uses to trigger associations from ideas and knowledge you already have stored in your brain, and creating new associations prompted by open-ended questions from eXpertTopic Modules and word searches made using the IdeaBrowser.  

Over our lifetime, we have collected vast amounts of information about the world around us.  We store this information in the form of memories and our brain acts as a filing cabinet that separates this information into categories of words and concepts that are associated with one another.  Whenever we begin to think about how to solve a problem, come up with new ideas, or to process anything new we encounter, our mind will automatically pull up the appropriate category in order to create an association with it.

When addressing any problem or searching for new ideas and solutions with ThoughtOffice, try creating new associations by borrowing, adding to, or manipulating old concepts and their associations with those of other concepts.  You can easily do this by first thinking about the situation you are trying to address.  This will automatically tap the databases of your memory to draw from past experiences and knowledge that you have already acquired.  Now take the information that you have drawn from the well of your memory, and use it to re-associate or rearrange those concepts to form new combinations.  

Brainstorming Brainstorming is a lateral thinking process and a problem solving technique used by individuals or groups to spontaneously generate new ideas, concepts, and solutions. Associative thinking and brainstorming are the fundamental building blocks of ThoughtOffice and it is important to have a general understanding of these concepts in order to make the most out of every Session you create.

Brainstorming With ThoughtOffice:

1. Identify your current objective or problem. Stay focused and keep your current objective or problem in mind at all times during your ThoughtOffice Session.

2. An excellent way to begin a brainstorming Session with ThoughtOffice is by selecting an eXpertTopic module that covers the subject matter you wish to address. Select anywhere from 10-20 relevant questions from the module and add them to your Session Document. The open-ended questions will help jumpstart the associative thinking process and act as a foundational guide to get things started.

3. When answering questions you have carried over to a Session Document, let your ideas flow without restriction. Limiting your ideas only serves to stifle your creativity, thereby decreasing your chances of coming up with the best idea or solution.

4. Use the IdeaBrowser to perform word and image searches to inspire and generate new associations and ideas.

Although ThoughtOffice leans more towards individual brainstorming, it can also be used for group brainstorming sessions with some modifications to the traditional process. For example, ThoughtOffice can be used by a corporation and made available to each employee on the management team. When a problem arises, each member of the team creates their own Session Document based on the problem. Information from all members can then be compiled for review. A new Session Document can be made highlighting the best ideas and solutions, and the process continues until a unified solution and decision is reached.
Session Your Brainstorming Document

A Session is the Document you create in ThoughtOffice and is developed by using a series of entries made by adding questions from eXpertTopic Modules, adding content and images you find during your searches using the IdeaBrowser, and by adding your own thoughts and ideas.

Initially, your Session Document may appear somewhat disorganized as you simply use it as a collection plate for your ideas, associations, images, and streams of consciousness.  Consider this to be Phase 1 in your Session development.  This is where you give the right side of your brain the freedom and permission to explore and be the most creative.  

In Phase 2 of your Session development, you can allow the left side of your brain to dominate as you use the editing tools in ThoughtOffice to reorganize your thoughts and ideas, move them around to different locations, and otherwise tidy things up.  You may also make changes to the font style, size, and color of your text.

Your finished Session Documents can then be shared in a variety of ways:

1.  As a Session file that can be sent to others who also use ThoughtOffice.  Session Document files end in the extension .exs
2.  Presented as a Slideshow using the Slideshow feature in ThoughtOffice.
3.  Printed out in a variety of ways using our new Print Templates.

•Standard and Professional Outlines
•One image slides with text entry underneath
•3-image storyboard presentations

4.  Or turn your Session Document into a pdf.

Entry The Building Blocks of Your Session Document

This is a single line-item/paragraph/text + image you add to a Session Document.  By adding a series of entries, you create a ThoughtOffice Session Document.

You can add entries to a Session in three ways:

1.  By clicking the Add Entry button located in the toolbar on the main ThoughtOffice interface.

2.  By selecting questions from eXpertTopic Modules in the Topics Browser and clicking the Add to Session button located in the lower right corner of the browser screen.

3.  By selecting the Add to Session button in the IdeaBrowser when performing word and image searches.

When adding entries to the Session Document from the Topics Browser or IdeaBrowser, each entry will be placed below the one before it.  So all entries will flow from top to bottom.  However, entries can be rearranged and moved to new locations by selecting the Move Up or Move Down arrows located along the toolbar.

Topics Browser The Topics Browser is where eXpertTopic Modules are accessed and viewed.  It launches in a separate window when you click the Topics button located along the left side of the main interface.  

This special browser allows you to expand and collapse the eXpertTopic Modules and provides a Queue window so that you can see any images attached along with the comments and questions. The browser also provides an Add to Session button so that you may add questions from the module to your Session Document.  

For more information on the Topics Browser and how to use it and to import new eXpertTopic Modules, please refer to the main Topics Browser heading located in the Table of Contents.

eXpertTopics Modules eXpertTopic Modules are topical outlines surrounding a specific subject and made up of open-ended questions grouped into categories and headings.  These questions were compiled by experts in that particular subject and were designed to trigger the associative thinking process.  

Our current stock of eXpertTopic Modules cover a wide variety of subject matter ranging from Business Solutions, Writing, Speaking, Private Investigator, and more.  

Idea Browser The IdeaBrowser is a unique web-based search engine filled with a variety of idea tabs that perform different kinds of searches.  For example, the istockphoto tab will search for images related to any word you add or type into the search field.  Other search tabs include Defintions, Hypernyms, Synonyms, Keywords, Quotes, Lyrics, Rhymes, and more.  

The IdeaBrowser is launched in a separate window when you click on the Ideas button located along the left side of the main ThoughtOffice interface.  This browser enables you to draw upon different sources to reseed your thoughts when you've run out of ideas of your own.  Use it to expand on the answers you provided using the eXpertTopic Modules.  It can also be used to start your associative thinking process simply by entering a word that pertains to your idea or problem.  

The IdeaBrowser also allows you to add images and text you have found during a search to your Session Document.  For more information about IdeaBrowser, please refer to the IdeaBrowser main topic heading in the Table of Contents section.

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