Functional fixedeness

Video: Functional fixedeness

Imagine you're part of an experiment. You walk into a room, it's empty. Except for a table with these three items on top of it. A candle, a box of thumbtacks and a book of matches. And your task is to light the candle and keep it burning parallel to the wall without it touching the floor or burning the wall. Now, take a moment to think about this. How would you do it? Let's redo the experiment but, this time, when you walk in the room you have the same three items, but they're presented slightly differently.

Functional fixedeness

Imagine you're part of an experiment. You walk into a room, it's empty. Except for a table with these three items on top of it. A candle, a box of thumbtacks and a book of matches. And your task is to light the candle and keep it burning parallel to the wall without it touching the floor or burning the wall. Now, take a moment to think about this. How would you do it? Let's redo the experiment but, this time, when you walk in the room you have the same three items, but they're presented slightly differently.

The box of thumbtacks has been emptied and the box is laying on the table. Now, how would you solve this problem? One effective solution would be to take the empty box, tack it to the wall, then place the candle inside the box and then light the candle. This experiment was performed in the 1920's by a Swiss social scientist named Karl Duncker. And what Duncker found is that, in the first scenario, only 15% of people could come up with a solution.

But in the second scenario, 80% of them were able to come up with that solution. Why such a big difference? Duncker theorized that the participants in the first scenario were so fixated on the thumbtacks' box doing its traditional function, that they couldn't conceive of it as a possible solution to the problem. But when the box was presented out of context and not performing its usual function of holding thumbtacks, it helped them visualize it as a possible solution.

Duncker coined this phenomena functional fixedness. Fixedness is a very important concept in the world of creativity because it's a blind spot in your ability to generate new, innovative products and services. Functional fixedness is a cognitive bias that limits you from seeing an object only in the way it's traditionally seen or used. It holds us back from creating combinations that would form the basis of a great idea. We all have fixedness.

You can't get rid of it. But you can break fixedness and that's where the SIT techniques come in. Each technique forces you to create combinations that you would not have created on your own, due to fixedness. If you let the techniques regulate your thinking you'll beat fixedness and see new, innovative opportunities.

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58 video lessons · 2616 viewers

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1. Introduction

1m 41s
1. Welcome
1m 22s
2. Using the exercise files
19s
2. 1. Understanding How Innovation Occurs

21m 37s
1. What is innovation? Introducing Systematic Inventive Thinking
3m 21s
2. The principle of function follows form
4m 8s
3. The closed-world principle
4m 16s
4. Characteristics of innovative products and services
3m 51s
5. Challenging the myth of thinking outside the box
3m 11s
6. Challenging the myth of serendipity
2m 50s
3. 2. Using the Subtraction Technique

11m 55s
1. Functional fixedeness
2m 26s
2. The subtraction technique
2m 59s
3. Subtraction in action
4m 8s
2m 22s
4. 3. Using the Division Technique

10m 35s
1. Structural fixedness
2m 32s
2. The division technique
2m 43s
3. Division in action
3m 3s
2m 17s
5. 4. Using the Multiplication Technique

16m 25s
1. The multiplication technique
4m 24s
2. Multiplication in action
4m 39s
3. Zooming in and zooming out
4m 51s
2m 31s

15m 45s
4m 19s
4m 14s
4m 27s
2m 45s
7. 6. Using the Attribute Dependency Technique

17m 49s
1. The attribute dependency technique
3m 32s
2. Creating an attribute dependency matrix
3m 37s
3. Types of dependencies
4m 12s
4. Attribute dependency in action
4m 31s
1m 57s
8. 7. Innovating at Work

27m 7s
1. Running ideation workshops
4m 13s
2. Which technique to use
3m 26s
3. Creating new services and processes
3m 17s
4. Creating digital innovations
5m 12s
5. Involving customers
5m 49s
6. Evaluating ideas
5m 10s
9. 8. Mastering Innovation

14m 48s
1. Mastering innovative thinking
3m 42s
2. Building a pilot program
3m 56s
3. Addressing organizational challenges with innovation
4m 3s
4. Next steps
3m 7s
10. Bonus: Interview with Drew Boyd

52m 41s
2m 9s
2. What is innovation?
51s
3. What got Drew started in innovation?
2m 15s
4. On innovation as a skill
1m 53s
1m 58s
6. On resistance to innovation
3m 31s
7. On innovation's tainted image
2m 34s
8. Where do you apply innovation strategies?
2m 31s
9. Who should lead an innovation effort?
3m 6s
10. On favorite innovation experiences
3m 51s
11. On innovation vs. strategy
3m 36s
12. On working with innovation consultants
3m 20s
13. On trends in innovation
3m 26s
14. On innovation as competition
2m 32s
15. On innovative companies
2m 43s
16. On generating vs. executing ideas
3m 2s
17. Can you overdo innovation?
2m 1s
18. How do you start innovating?
3m 44s
19. On the most innovative products
3m 38s

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