An Embedded Word
Source: Bodycombe, D. J. (1977). The mammoth puzzle carnival, New York: Carroll & Graf.
cated that few people understood it, Foerstner focused on its basic raw materials, its size, and its functionality. By comparing it to an air conditioner, he eliminated much of the complexity and mystery, and, as described by two analysts, “He had seen what all the researchers had failed to see, and they knew he was right” (Nayak & Ketteringham, 1986: 181).
Spence Silver had to add complexity, to overcome compression, in order to find an application for his product. Because the glue had failed every traditional 3M test for adhesives, it was categorized as a useless configuration of chemicals. The potential for the prod- uct was artificially constrained by traditional assump- tions about adhesives—more stickiness, stronger bonding is best—until Art Fry visualized some uncon- ventional applications: a better bookmark, a bulletin board, scratch paper, and, paradoxically, a replacement for 3M’s main product, tape.
Some conceptual blocks occur not because of poor thinking habits or inappropriate assumptions but be- cause of fear, ignorance, insecurity, or just plain mental laziness. Two especially prevalent examples of the complacency block are a lack of questioning and a bias against thinking.
Sometimes the inability to solve problems results from an unwillingness to ask questions, obtain information, or search for data. Individuals may think they will appear naive or ignorant if they question something or attempt to redefine a problem. Asking questions puts them at risk of exposing their ignorance. It also may be threatening to others because it implies that what they
SOLVING PROBLEMS ANALYTICALLY AND CREATIVELY