“Cogito ergo sum” or “I think, therefore I am” is a famous philosophical quote from René Descartes.
I have my own version of this statement:
“I think, therefore I am fixated”.
What I mean is that it’s almost impossible for the human brain to produce a really fresh and unique thought. Every thought, opinion or idea is somehow connected to previous concepts stored in the brain.
There are many definitions for fixedness, but I like this one: “The inability to see the solution to a problem although it stares us in the face.”
When we decide or when we are asked to think uniquely or creatively, the fixation intensifies. (So if you want to kill someone’s creativity, just ask him/her to think creatively. I can guarantee you that it works every time!)
So how can we fight fixedness?
One suggestion is Brainstorming. The idea is simple: when thinking in a team, other team members may help us free ourselves from fixation. Unfortunately, this barely happens. There are many psychological and sociological explanations as to why it doesn’t work, but I won’t discuss them here.
Basically what usually happens in brainstorming sessions is that instead of exchanging fresh and unique ideas there’s an exchange of fixated ideas.
So what can we do? I believe that like a pilot in vertigo we need to rely on external instruments. We need a tool that can direct us to think in such a way that our thinking is totally unrelated to our previous ideas and thoughts about the matter at hand.
Well…SIT is exactly that tool.
For example, SIT, through its Closed World principle does not allow us to introduce new elements into the problem. Because of this, we are forced to reuse existing elements and overcome what is called “functional fixedness,” which is basically the inability to note that an object with a specific function can be used to perform another function in certain circumstances.
I play a computer game called Grunts with my 5-year-old daughter.The Grunts are sweet little creatures that always need to overcome obstacles and fight enemies. One of their weapons is a sponge gun that fires sponges at the enemy.
At one stage of the game we had to overcome an obstacle and couldn’t find a solution. After many trials and a lot of frustration I decided that I needed to recruit SIT to solve the problem. The idea came quickly – we needed to use the sponge gun to shoot at one of our own Grunts. We tried it and it worked – I love it when a plan comes together (from the A team!)
We need to fight fixedness with rigidness (I mean rigidity, of course) and SIT is a good source for refreshing rigidity.
See you all at my next posting!
Visit Roni at the start2think website