Thinking on different meta levels

Sometimes you are solving a problem, whether by yourself or talking to someone, and realize you actually want to operate on a different meta level. For example:

  • How do we fix this?
  • How did this happen?
  • How do we prevent this from happening in the future?

If a problem is urgent, you focus on level one. However, once it's over, you want to revisit it and answer the other questions too.

Last week I've found myself twice having to bring the counterpart to the correct meta level. Once it was from "who is to blame" to "how to fix this" and once from "how to fix this" to "how to future-proof this".

I am not sure whether the "levels" actually have total ordering and aren't simply aspects. Anyway, it would be nice to be able to tell someone, "Hey, up one meta level" to quickly shift the discussion focus. (Of course, if they disagree, the whole discussion turns into a meta-discussion.)

P.S. "Who is to blame" is usually not the question to ask anyway.

P.P.S. "Gödel, Escher, Bach" is a good read. Even if some parts are outdated or wrong.