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Functional fixedeness

From: Business Innovation Fundamentals

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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This video is part of

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Business Innovation Fundamentals

58 video lessons · 3250 viewers

Drew Boyd
Author

 
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  1. 1m 41s
    1. Welcome
      1m 22s
    2. Using the exercise files
      19s
  2. 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. 11m 55s
    1. Functional fixedeness
      2m 26s
    2. The subtraction technique
      2m 59s
    3. Subtraction in action
      4m 8s
    4. Addressing common challenges
      2m 22s
  4. 10m 35s
    1. Structural fixedness
      2m 32s
    2. The division technique
      2m 43s
    3. Division in action
      3m 3s
    4. Addressing common challenges
      2m 17s
  5. 16m 25s
    1. The multiplication technique
      4m 24s
    2. Multiplication in action
      4m 39s
    3. Zooming in and zooming out
      4m 51s
    4. Addressing common challenges
      2m 31s
  6. 15m 45s
    1. The task-unification technique
      4m 19s
    2. Task unification in action
      4m 14s
    3. Using task unification for business issues
      4m 27s
    4. Addressing common challenges
      2m 45s
  7. 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
    5. Addressing common challenges
      1m 57s
  8. 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. 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. 52m 41s
    1. About Drew
      2m 9s
    2. What is innovation?
      51s
    3. What got Drew started in innovation?
      2m 15s
    4. On innovation as a skill
      1m 53s
    5. On innovation as part of your business
      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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