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Can you Deconstruct Your Thoughts for Enhanced Innovation?

As humans who’ve developed a complex language that involves a system of categorization and labeling, is it possible that this very skill can limit our innovative or problem-solving potential?  What if by calling something a finite name we then give it a finite definition in our minds, locking that concept into a very narrow definition?  This new concept is termed functional fixedness.  In research done at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Tony McCaffrey has tested this concept and is developing a system for people to overcome it and enhance their own innovation.  He has individuals first break down an item into their basic parts and name each part in a way that does not imply larger meaning.  Example, a candle becomes “wax and string”.  Even calling the string a wick implies meaning, but converting that to “string” opens up mental possibilities that would not be there otherwise.  In studies groups were given metal rings and a candle and asked to connect the rings together.  Those who named the candle as its separate parts performed better because they used the wick/string to tie the rings.  Other such similar studies were done with the same results.  So when you’re stuck today at an impasse, try a bit of deconstruction to open the door to your own problem-solving innovation.

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