As humans who’ve developed a complex language that involves a system of categorization and labeling, is it possible that this very skill can limit our innovative or problem-solving potential? What if by calling something a finite name we then give it a finite definition in our minds, locking that concept into a very narrow definition? This new concept is termed functional fixedness. In research done at the University of Massachusetts Amherst Tony McCaffrey has tested this concept and is developing a system for people to overcome it and enhance their own innovation. He has individuals first break down an item into their basic parts and name each part in a way that does not imply larger meaning. Example, a candle becomes “wax and string”. Even calling the string a wick implies meaning, but converting that to “string” opens up mental possibilities that would not be there otherwise. In studies groups were given metal rings and a candle and asked to connect the rings together. Those who named the candle as its separate parts performed better because they used the wick/string to tie the rings. Other such similar studies were done with the same results. So when you’re stuck today at an impasse, try a bit of deconstruction to open the door to your own problem-solving innovation.