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Fixing a different way of thinking


At the root of making is fixing. Identifying a problem, a need, or something that could be done better, and then making something to fix it.

That’s how this post from Andrew Sleigh starts, as he profiles a new project called Fixperts, which aims to connect up fixers, film-makers and people with a problem to solve.

Shifting the focus to solving someone else’s problem can give maker projects a whole new impetus, they say:

People sometimes find it challenging to fix their own stuff, or don’t have the desire to even identify problems they live with; they tend to ignore them. But when you fix something for someone else, you have a really strong motivation, and that forms a really key ingredient to Fixperts. By working with somebody, and solving a problem with them and for them, you have a really strong reason to do something.

This reminded me of something I wrote for Huffington Post – Think of Others if You Want Bigger, Better Ideas. To quote myself(!):

It turns out creativity flows more freely when you imagine someone else dealing with an issue. Professors Evan Polman and Kyle Emich asked 137 undergraduates to imagine the following scenario: a prisoner, being held in a tower, had a length of rope which was half the length he needed to escape safely. He cut it in half, then tied it together and got away. How did he do this?

Half the undergraduates were asked to imagine they were the prisoner, the other half to imagine it was somebody else. Less than half (48 percent) of those who had to imagine their own escape were successful while two-thirds of those (66 percent) who imagined it was somebody else managed to get the answer (the prisoner split the rope lengthwise).

The takeaway from this experiment?

Seeing a problem as your own can hold you too close to it, unable to see the bigger picture.

The next time you find yourself struggling when thinking about a problem, think about who you could ask for a different perspective. Or simply try and imagine how they would approach your problem, using their particular set of experiences and skills.

Or ask yourself what your motivation is. Who might be better motivated to solve it?

Image credit: Paul Stevenson

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