Dr. McCaffrey Featured in New Book: Red Thread Thinking

May 31, 2013 in News

Dr. Anthony McCaffrey’s work on functional fixedness has been featured in Debra Kaye’s recently published book, “Red Thread Thinking: Weaving Together Connections for Brilliant Ideas and Profitable Innovation”. The book is available for purchase on amazon.com.

Dr. McCaffrey’s work on Analogy Finder was also featured on Debra Kaye’s blog, Red Thread Thinking, in a post called “Someone Else Made It: You Monetize It”. Excerpts from both the book and the blog can be seen below.

“Psychologists use the term functional fixedness¬†to describe the first mental obstacle that McCaffrey investigated. It explains, for example, how one person finding a burr stuck to his sweater might say, “Uh-oh, a burr”, then tear the burr off and discard it, while another person might say, “Oh, a burr… look how it sticks to my sweater… that’s useful,” and then goes on to invent Velcro. The first, and more common, reaction focuses on an object’s typical function and its annoying or negative implications (the sweater has a pull on it). The second focuses on the possibilities of the function beyond its impact on the sweater.

To overcome functional fixedness, McCaffrey looked for a way to teach people to reinterpret known information about common objects to see beyond those objects’ common functions. For each part of an object, the “generic parts technique” (GPT) sections of this test asks users to list function-free descriptions, including an object’s material, shape, and size. For instance, the prongs of an electric plug can be described in a function-free way to reveal that they might be used as a screwdriver. “The trick is how to unconceal the features relevant to your purposes,” says McCaffrey.”

-Debra Kaye, “Red Thread Thinking:¬†Weaving Together Connections for Brilliant Ideas and Profitable Innovation”

“As high as 90% of the problems we solve today have already been solved in a different context, according to estimates by problem-solving experts. All great innovators cast a wide net to incite creative thought by looking beyond their category and into analogous businesses around the world. The problem: time, effort and often happenstance needed to seek out all those corresponding ideas and technologies.”

-Dr. Anthony McCaffrey and Debra Kaye (http://www.redthreadthinking.com/someone-else-made-it-you-monetize-it/)