1. Howard Eisenberg explains...
Paradigm Perceptual Bias
We tend to automatically process new situations in terms of the old and familiar. This
tendency restricts our awareness of other possibilities. Try the following exercise:
Convert the figure I X into the number 6.
• Only use the existing figure I X (i.e. you
cannot use only a portion of it, nor alter
it in any way.)
• Only add one single line to the existing
figure I X.
• The solution must contain the figure I X.
2. Howard Eisenberg explains...
If you are having difficulty discovering the solution,
reflect on what you are presuming about the
parameters of this situation.
By becoming more aware of your subconscious
presumptions, you can directly challenge them and
go beyond their constraints.
If you think you have a solution, then proceed to
the next screen...
3. Howard Eisenberg explains...
One correct solution to this problem is “SIX”.
Notice how easy it is to see and understand the
solution in retrospect?
What prevented you from seeing this solution by
Perhaps you presumed the I X signified roman
numerals and consequently you confined your
thinking to this system, instead of seeing it more
neutrally as just a single line and two crossed
4. Howard Eisenberg explains...
Perhaps you presumed that since the figure I X
consisted of only straight lines, that the additional
line also had to be a straight one.
Now, given the same situation and rules, develop a
different solution to this problem.
Again, if you are experiencing difficulty in
discovering the second solution, reflect on what
you are presuming that constricts your thinking of
Proceed to the next screen when you think you
have a second solution...
5. Howard Eisenberg explains...
A Second Solution...
What prevented you from seeing this solution
Is there a similarity in your presumed
constraints with the first solution?
Once again, you had to free yourself from
presuming an answer confined to the roman
numeral system and using a straight line.
Additionally, you had to free yourself from the
presumed constraint of a simple graphical
representation of the number itself, so that you
could entertain the possibility of a
6. Howard Eisenberg explains...
What principles have you learned about general problem-solving from this
Can you think of some real world problems where such presumptions restrict
awareness to better solutions?
For example, at the beginning of the 20th century, physicists ruled out the
possibility of airplanes because the concept contradicted the Law of Gravity.
Similarly, the Swiss watchmaking industry rejected their own invention of
digital watch technology, because they already dominated the world market
with their older mechanical technology and consequently lost most of their
previous dominating market share.
And, if you came up with yet another solution to the I X problem, I’d be
interested to hear from you! Please email me... Howard Eisenberg