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What Is Functional Fixedness?

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Nelson Soken explains functional fixedness and offers advice for developing materials to teach learners new things.


  • Dr. Nelson Soken is CEO of N.H. Soken Consulting and Chief Innovation Strategist for Barnes and Conti Inc.. As a consultant, author, and thought leader, Dr. Soken is passionate about helping others see things differently. At N.H.Soken Consulting, he assists client companies in developing their innovation and design thinking strategies and competencies through innovation program and strategy development and inspirational presentations. He has conducted innovation and strategic thinking training across the United States, Europe, and Canada for Fortune 500 companies, including IBM, Abbott Labs, Texas Instruments, Honeywell, Citibank, New York Life Insurance, Yahoo, and the Hass Business School at UC Berkeley. Currently, Dr. Soken a usability consultant for Andamio Games on the iNeuron project, which is funded by NIH and CytoAssist (funded by NSF), to create STEM games for high school students.

    Dr. Soken also has been a consultant in the healthcare industry, including medical device companies. Formerly, at Medtronic he used his science and engineering background, coupled with excellent communication and networking skills, to create and drive a patient-centric strategy that changed the corporate mindset about how to approach and gather research data in emerging markets. In addition, at the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Innovation, he developed an innovation curriculum that immersed healthcare professionals in innovation and design thinking with the goal of equipping healthcare professionals with mindset and skills to better serve patients.

    Dr. Soken co-authored Lead the Pack: Sparking Innovation That Drives Customers Wild, a book on the psychology of innovation.


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