Solving Problems On The Cloud Part 3: Overcoming Unhealthy Fixations

Solving Problems On The Cloud Part 3: Overcoming Unhealthy Fixations

One example of an unhealthy fixation is the 2012 survey by Security Alliance who learned that the top threat listed by survey participants is data loss.

Of course security risks on the cloud cannot be ignored but clearly this problem is hugely overstated. Why executives and retail consumers, who lose everything from their car keys to their hard earned cash, (not to mention their own data mishaps) are so concerned about the cloud is more than fearing a loss of control. These individuals are struggling with what Gestalt psychologists refer to as fixation.

Understanding Fixations

Fixation is the tendency to focus on one specific aspect of a problem. All of us have experienced this phenomenon at one time or another referring to it casually as,  “freezing up”, or, “obsessing” over an issue. The Gestalt school also referred to a, “functional fixedness” that relates to limiting an object to its familiar use in every day life.

For the retail customer the functional fixation is based on fear, but the executive might just be exhausted by all the technological innovation over the past decade. The CEO may be thinking, “Hey, I’ve made huge investments in IT and all is well.” Of course this might be true for the moment, but in his functional fixedness he will only rest comfortably with the current tools until they break.

Solving Fixation Problems

Solving Fixation problems involves breaking free from herd mentality and approaching a problem from entirely different viewpoints. This idea is the very fire that fuels much of the success in the development of technological products. However, increasing the number of cloud adopters in the human realm is a lot different than strategizing within the rational language of computers. When dealing with flesh and blood anything is possible.

While negotiating the acquisition of a business during my younger years I learned the unpredictability of flesh and blood. During the sixth hour of these talks it became obvious that things were headed in the wrong direction. Out of desperation I suddenly asked, “What’s really bothering you?” The guy told me he was having trouble with his girlfriend and elaborated on the problems for a while. After I heard him out he suddenly said, “Let’s get this done”. I’m convinced that if I remained, “fixated” on the terms of the deal, the deal would not have closed. And yet wasn’t I there to talk terms? No. I was there to get the deal done.

The experience related above was an accident. Our goal is approach problems on the cloud free of fixed opinions, fixed ideas, and fixed understandings and to do this on purpose. Like Jack Bower on the TV series 24, take a look around and keep improvising until something works.

Whatever technical, marketing, or intractable people problem you are working on today remember, there is more than one way to skin a cat, you just have to find the way that works.

By Don Cleveland


Although relatively new to technology writing Don Cleveland has been writing and working in the fields of business and psychology over the last 25 years. After earning his B.A. in psychology at the University of South Florida he has returned to finish an M.A. in counseling. His passions are shining psychology’s empirical light on the world of computing and work through research and writing.

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