I have a problem! Now what?

When solving problems, most people start with the problem and try to brainstorm the solution. Although by now we know that just telling our brains to come up with a solution is inefficient at best, there’s another added dimension I’d like to bring in here.

Imagine you have a clear glass water bottle. You use it daily, as it’s your favorite one, and would never imagine another use for it. Even if you could come up with another purpose for it, you wouldn’t, as your brain has paired your water bottle with ice cold dehydration. If someone would come to your house with a beautiful rose and you didn’t own a single-flower-vase, it probably wouldn’t even occur to you to use the simple glass bottle for that purpose, as It already has a designated one.

Now let’s work the other way. Imagine the cover to your water bottle has cracked and it didn’t make economic sense to replace it. You are now left with a tall glass water bottle. You are comfortable discarding the cover as it is broken, but you feel bad to throw out the bottle (it is still in perfect shape). So you quickly think of some purposes for it – it can be a holder for a few spatulas, a container for cotton balls or even a single-flower-vase. You see, even though you never would have thought of additional purposes for the water bottle, once it was partially broken, you were somehow able to.

The concept, in SIT terms, is knows as Function Follows Form (FFF), or the idea that the solution is more often found from a problem or challenge, than just as a new discovery. Our brain, when faced with a challenge, tries to make sense of its new reality. It works overtime to solve the problem and allows itself to overcome fixedness.

In my next couple of blog posts, we will begin to dive into the 5 key SIT templates that enable creativity – subtraction, division, multiplication, task unification and attribute dependency. The first template, subtraction, actually works under the guise of Function Follows Form. It takes the current situation and intentionally breaks it, or subtracts a key component from it, in order to overcome fixedness and allow our brains to discover creative solutions. By removing a key feature of a product and seeing the benefit of that removal, one begins a journey to new ideas. One should try to use the FFF model to see challenges as true opportunities and use them as means to find new ideas.

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