# Structural fixedness

## Video: Structural fixedness

Imagine you are driving down the highway and you notice a flag waving in the distance, but something's not right. The flag is upside down. You notice it right away because it's not in its usual position that you've seen hundreds of times before. We all have this tendency to notice things that are out of order. We have an innate sense of how things are structured, and it helps us make sense of the world around us. But the sense of structure is also a barrier to creativity.

## Structural fixedness

Imagine you are driving down the highway and you notice a flag waving in the distance, but something's not right. The flag is upside down. You notice it right away because it's not in its usual position that you've seen hundreds of times before. We all have this tendency to notice things that are out of order. We have an innate sense of how things are structured, and it helps us make sense of the world around us. But the sense of structure is also a barrier to creativity.

Here's an example. Take a look at this and tell me which is the odd one out? Do you see it? If you're like most people you selected one of the three numbers you see here, 17, 19, or 13, but I want you to step back from the problem and see it in a different light. Now I want you to consider all the numbers on the page including the ones on the left side, 1, 2, and 3.

Now, out of these six numbers which one is the odd one out? You should have no difficulty seeing that the number two is the only even number on the page. It's truly the odd one out. Why do people have such a difficult time seeing the number two as part of the set of numbers? It's because we all have another type of fixedness called structural fixedness. Like functional fixedness, it's a cognitive bias. It blocks us from considering other structures than what we're used to.

Look back at our list of numbers. We're so used to seeing a list with numbers and parentheses, that we treat the numbers behind the parentheses differently. We have this structure so fixed in our mind we don't consider other configurations. Structural fixedness makes it hard to imagine different configurations of a product or service that could deliver new benefits to the marketplace. This type of fixedness is a big concern with services and processes because they tend to happen in a fixed sequence one step after another.

Without a way to break fixedness, we're prevented from seeing new creative options. The good news is that you can break structural fixedness just like you do functional fixedness. You do it with one of the five techniques of systematic inventive thinking. In this chapter, you'll learn about a tool that is great at breaking structural fixedness. It's called the division technique.

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#### This video is part of

58 video lessons · 2238 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
4. Addressing common challenges
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
4. Addressing common challenges
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
4. Addressing common challenges
2m 31s
6. ### 5. Using the Task-Unification Technique

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. ### 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
5. Addressing common challenges
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
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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