Arby’s is a classic example of fixedness. In 2012 that fast food company finally realized that instead of just thinly-sliced roast beef sandwiches on buns their restaurants also could make and sell roast turkey sandwiches. It only took them 48 years.
McCaffrey and Pearson talk about changing how you describe an object by asking two questions:
“1] Can it be broken down further?
2] Does our description imply a particular use?”
If either answer is yes, then you keep breaking them down and put the results on a simple tree, as is shown above for a particular candle. A wick can be described as a string, so it can instead be used to tie things together.
There are other ways to describe candles. As shown above, some even have a low-melting point metal core wire (perhaps lead) inside the wick. But, if you view a candle as a scent delivery system, you might replace the wick with a warmer and end up with a business like Scentsy.
My father told me three stories about thinking outside the box. Two were from back in the early 1950s when he was a professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Tennessee. He was part of running their graduate program. Their correspondence was being typed on an old, worn out manual typewriter. It made a very poor first impression on potential students and professors. Dad asked the university purchasing agent about getting an IBM Executive electric typewriter with proportional spacing. The answer was a firm no. If Chemical Engineering got a new one, than the other engineering departments would want one too, and then so would Agriculture, etc. What if someone donated a typewriter to the Chemical Engineering department? It would be just fine. That’s what Dad’s consulting practice did. Problem solved.
A third story was from the late 1950s when he was involved with the design of a facility that had a lot of connected glove boxes (an example of which is shown above). For future changes there usually are are lots of ports with round covers rather than gloves. They had visited some government nuclear facilities, and found them using expensive custom spun stainless-steel covers. Instead Dad designed ports on their boxes to use standard sized stainless-steel cake pans - mass-produced products about a tenth the cost. Dad kept a big yellow McMaster-Carr wholesale hardware catalog in his office so he could easily find those sorts of mass produced products and components.
The game box, Arby’s sandwich, and reactor images came from Wikimedia Commons, and the 7205 glovebox came from CDC.