Apply New Thinking To Old Problems!

Fostering Ideas in the Workplace

Priming the brain for creative problem solving is such an important, yet easily dismissed, action that can support you in finding innovative solutions to complex organisational problems more efficiently.

One strategy, founded by Anthony McCaffery (2012), is called the 'generic-parts technique'. This simple method involves describing an object's basic parts and naming each without inferring their meaning. This allows us to overcome a cognitive barrier to problem-solving, known as 'functional fixededness' (Dunker, 1945), which prevents us from using an object in a new way that is required to solve problems.

For example, phones were originally associated with buttons to dial, however Apple designed a phone with no buttons. One explanation for the effectiveness of the generic parts technique is that challenging our brain to disassociate objects from their functionality is likely to strengthen underutilised neural pathways (Hebb, 1949) in the brain!

Go ahead and try it! Think about a challenge you are facing in the workplace and break it down into basic parts, name them, and then see what ideas you can generate for solving the underlying issue!