One doorway that has always been open in the past is now locked. The person, accustomed to exiting the room by that particular doorway, keeps trying to get out through the same doorway even though the other three doorways are open.
The person is stuck—but she just needs to go to another doorway, instead of trying to get out through the locked doorway. A mental set is where you persist in approaching a problem in a way that has worked in the past but is clearly not working now.
Functional fixedness is a type of mental set where you cannot perceive an object being used for something other than what it was designed for. During the Apollo 13 mission to the moon, NASA engineers at Mission Control had to overcome functional fixedness to save the lives of the astronauts aboard the spacecraft.
An explosion in a module of the spacecraft damaged multiple systems. The astronauts were in danger of being poisoned by rising levels of carbon dioxide because of problems with the carbon dioxide filters.
The engineers found a way for the astronauts to use spare plastic bags, tape, and air hoses to create a makeshift air filter, which saved the lives of the astronauts. Link to Learning Check out this Apollo 13 scene where the group of NASA engineers are given the task of overcoming functional fixedness. Watch out though! Analogies are difficult for beginners and take some getting used to. An example: in the Radiation Problem, a doctor has a patient with a tumor that cannot be operated on.
The doctor can use rays to destroy the tumor but it also destroys healthy tissue. Two researchers, Gick and Holyoak noted that people solved the radiation problem much more easily after being asked to read a story about an invading general who must capture the fortress of a king but must be careful to avoid landmines that will detonate if large forces traverse the streets.
The general then sends small forces of men down different streets so the army can converge at the fortress at the same time and can capture it at full force. Carroll AKA the mother of pop star Jewel talks about a question-and-answer technique for getting out of a problem. Basically, when faced with a problem, ask yourself a question about it and brainstorm 12 answers "12 what elses" to that problem.
Then you can go further by taking one answer, turning it into a question and generating 12 more what elses. Repeat until the solution is golden brown, fully baked, and ready to take out of the oven. Start Using These Techniques Today Hopefully you find these different techniques useful and they get your imagination rolling with ideas on how to solve different problems. And if that's the case, then you have 4 different takeaways to use the next time a problem gets you tangled up: Don't start by trying to solve the problem.
First, aim to understand the root of the problem. Use questions to generate ideas for solving the problem. Look to previous problems to find the answers to new ones. Clear your preconceived ideas and past experiences before attempting to tackle the problem. When you are facing a large and complex problem with significant potential ramifications, one of the best things you can do is break that problem down into its various components until you have it solved. To use the drill down method successfully, you are going to need to have a plan.
You can choose to work through this process either on your computer or with a pen on a piece of paper, whatever suits your personal preferences. To start, write down the problem that you are facing in big letters at the top of the page. Try to sum up the problem in just a word or a short phrase, even if it is complicated in nature. This will be your starting point, and the rest of the drill down process will take place from here.
At this point, the problem needs to be broken down into smaller chunks. Try dividing the problem up into three — five smaller issues which come together to form the bigger matter. This technique is a great way to uncover the complicated nature of most business problems. It is not typical for a business problem to be isolated within the organization — more often, the problem will be built upon layers of smaller issues. This is exactly what you are going to try to untangle by using the drill down technique.
When testing their hypotheses, participants tended to only create additional triplets of numbers that would confirm their hypotheses, and tended not to create triplets that would negate or disprove their hypotheses. Thus research also shows that people can and do work to confirm theories or ideas that do not support or engage personally significant beliefs. After Luchins gave his participants a set of water jug problems that could all be solved by employing a single technique, he would then give them a problem that could either be solved using that same technique or a novel and simpler method.
Luchins discovered that his participants tended to use the same technique that they had become accustomed to despite the possibility of using a simpler alternative.
However, as Luchins' work revealed, such methods for finding a solution that have worked in the past may not be adequate or optimal for certain new but similar problems. Therefore, it is often necessary for people to move beyond their mental sets in order to find solutions.
This was again demonstrated in Norman Maier 's experiment, which challenged participants to solve a problem by using a household object pliers in an unconventional manner. Maier observed that participants were often unable to view the object in a way that strayed from its typical use, a phenomenon regarded as a particular form of mental set more specifically known as functional fixedness, which is the topic of the following section.
When people cling rigidly to their mental sets, they are said to be experiencing fixation, a seeming obsession or preoccupation with attempted strategies that are repeatedly unsuccessful. Tim German and Clark Barrett describe this barrier as the fixed design of an object hindering the individual's ability to see it serving other functions.
In more technical terms, these researchers explained that "[s]ubjects become "fixed" on the design function of the objects, and problem solving suffers relative to control conditions in which the object's function is not demonstrated. In research that highlighted the primary reasons that young children are immune to functional fixedness, it was stated that "functional fixedness For instance, imagine the following situation: a man sees a bug on the floor that he wants to kill, but the only thing in his hand at the moment is a can of air freshener.
If the man starts looking around for something in the house to kill the bug with instead of realizing that the can of air freshener could in fact be used not only as having its main function as to freshen the air, he is said to be experiencing functional fixedness. The man's knowledge of the can being served as purely an air freshener hindered his ability to realize that it too could have been used to serve another purpose, which in this instance was as an instrument to kill the bug.
Functional fixedness can happen on multiple occasions and can cause us to have certain cognitive biases. If people only see an object as serving one primary focus than they fail to realize that the object can be used in various ways other than its intended purpose. This can in turn cause many issues with regards to problem solving. Common sense seems to be a plausible answer to functional fixedness.
One could make this argument because it seems rather simple to consider possible alternative uses for an object. This guide instructs you in some problem solving techniques.
Crucial to the success of a business faced with problems is your understanding of just what the problems are, defining them, finding solutions, and selecting the best solutions for the situations. This guide explains the following. How to identify a problem.
How to respond to it. The different techniques and methods used in problem-solving. How to find alternative solutions. How to select the best solution for the situation. Designing a Plan of Action. How to implement the Plan of Action. How to assess the success of the solution and the Plan of Action. Introduction to Problem Solving Techniques What is a problem. A problem is a situation that presents difficulty or perplexity. Problems come in many shapes and sizes.
For example, it can be: Something did not work as it should and you don't know how or why. Something you need is unavailable, and something must be found to take its place. Employees are undermining a new program. The market is not buying. What do you do to survive? Customers are complaining. How do you handle their complaints?
Where do problems come from? Problems arise from every facet of human and mechanical functions as well as from nature. Some problems we cause ourselves e. Problems are a natural, everyday occurrence of life, and in order to suffer less from the tensions and frustrations they cause, we must learn how to deal with them in a rational, logical fashion. If we accept the fact that problems will arise on a regular basis, for a variety of reasons, and from a variety of sources, we can: learn to approach problems from an objective point of view; learn how to anticipate some of them; and prevent some of them from becoming larger problems.
To accomplish this, you need to learn the process of problem solving. Here, we will instruct you in the basic methods of problem-solving. It is a step by step guide which you can easily follow and practice. As you follow this guide, you will eventually develop some strategies of your own that work in concert with the problem-solving process described in this guide. Keep in mind, though, as you read that this is not a comprehensive analysis of the art of problem-solving but rather a practical, systematic, and simplified, yet effective, way to approach problems considering the limited time and information most business owners and managers have.
In addition, some problems are so complex that they require the additional help of experts in the field, so be prepared to accept the fact that some problems are beyond one person's ability, skill, and desire to succeed.
Identifying The Problem Before a problem can be solved, you must first recognize that a problem exists. Here is where your approach to problem-solving is crucial. You should not allow the problem to intimidate you. You should approach it rationally and remind yourself that every problem is solvable if it is tackled appropriately.
Fear can block your ability to think clearly, but if you: 1. Follow a workable procedure for finding solutions; 2. Accept the fact that you can't foresee everything; 3. Because problem solving is a day-to-day activity in every business and as a business owner, you need to become very good at solving problems quickly and efficiently.
By systemizing the solutions process, you can get to the root cause of the problem more quickly and work on ensuring that it does not recur. Note: I prefer the term solutions provider which I've borrowed from the software industry , rather than problem solver. Maybe the new title for a Business Manager needs to be Solutions Provider? Solutions provider sounds so much more positive However I will use problem solving in this discussion to keep us focused on well-tested problem solving techniques.
Business owners need to become more proactive at developing solution models to ensure that when problems arise, there is an effective system in place to resolve them. Managers are often constrained in their ability to solve problems, and in their ability to use successful problem solving techniques, decision making tips, and a strong decision making model.
Problem Solving Constraints there are conflicting objectives for example, make money but get that late job out on time ; there are the pressures of time you don't have a week to investigate the problem, you need to solve it now - with your customer on the line ; there is the confusion of noise; everyone is talking, making it very difficult to listen and assess. Often used when you have many problems all competing for attention.
Does it solve the problem? Analogical thinking uses information from one area to help with a problem in a different area. If you define the problem as poor performance by the team member you will develop different solutions than if you define the problem as poor expectation setting with the client.
The different techniques and methods used in problem-solving. Try dividing the problem up into three — five smaller issues which come together to form the bigger matter. Consider this example: You live in Washington, D. Identifying The Problem Before a problem can be solved, you must first recognize that a problem exists. Clear your preconceived ideas and past experiences before attempting to tackle the problem. The effectiveness of the tools they are using in carrying out the solution; 5.
What challenges stop us from successfully solving a problem?
Introduction to Problem Solving Techniques What is a problem. For example, if you think that your professor is not very nice, you notice all of the instances of rude behavior exhibited by the professor while ignoring the countless pleasant interactions he is involved in on a daily basis.
The confirmation bias is the tendency to focus on information that confirms your existing beliefs. In short, solving a different problem can lead you to find a solution to the actual problem. Select a solution. Build a process map to help you define the root causes of the problem and the potential solutions. If people only see an object as serving one primary focus than they fail to realize that the object can be used in various ways other than its intended purpose.