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Showing posts from July, 2010

Overcoming Functional Fixedness with Gaming: Limbo on the XBOX

In the summer of 1995 I was leading a mountain bike trip in the remote Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I took a nasty spill and broke the axle on my front wheel. Digging through my bag I found everything I needed to replace the axle except an essential washer. My partner started digging through his bag, realizing that if we didn’t find a washer, I’d be walking the 12 miles back to the trail head ... and he'd be waiting for me with the rest of the group. He revealed a beer bottle cap, pulled out his multi-tool, drove a hole in the middle of the cap. “Here’s your washer.” Sometimes a bottle cap isn’t a bottle cap. Archimedes had his moment when he realized a bathtub can serve a purpose beyond bathing--it could also measure volume through displacement. Eureka! One of the keys to solving problems effectively is to overcome the cognitive bias known as functional fixedness. If you’ve read Daniel Pink’s book Drive, as I’ve urged, you would remember The Candle Problem, which demonst…