We often are faced with problems to solve in business but struggle to generate multiple solutions. Often, we miss the solutions that are in plain sight as we can’t get past the traditional uses of products or ways of doing things – this is termed “functional fixedness”
When we overcome functional fixedness, we see items not as they are commonly seen or used. Think about a deflated basketball, could this be used as a bowl for food? Could the wick of a candle be used to tie things together? To begin to overcome design fixedness and think about objects differently it helps to break it down into generic parts.
Generic Parts Technique to overcome Design Fixedness
Consider each element of the object and the following questions:
- Can it be broken down further?
- Does the description imply a particular use?
Keep asking the questions until you can get no further and break down the results in a mind map.
Seek out general verbs to overcome Goal Fixedness
We can become restricted when we are looking for solutions by the way in which the goal is described to us. By changing the verb or action word to something more general, it often leads to greater ways to achieve a given outcome.
Use the thesaurus at WordNet to look for verbs that have high numbers of hyponyms. For example, “adhere” has four hyponyms whereas “fasten” has sixty-one.
By redefining the goal, you are able to think of more ways that that goal may be achieved. Simultaneously by recognising the characteristics of resources better you are more able to match resource attributes to goal solutions.