When all you have is a Hammer, everything looks like a Nail — The Einstellung Effect on Organisational Transformation

Aidan McCullen
The Thursday Thought


“To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” — Twain/Maslow/Kaplan/Baruch/Buddha/Unknown

The Law of the Instrument

The law of the instrument, otherwise known as Maslow’s hammer is a cognitive bias that involves an over-reliance on a familiar tool. As Abraham Maslow said in 1966, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”

A hammer is not the most appropriate tool for every purpose. Yet a person with only a hammer is likely to try and fix everything using their hammer. often without even considering other options. We prefer to make do with what we have rather than looking for a better alternatives.

This Thursday Thought explores how the law of instrument is prevalent in change management, disruption, innovation organisational transformation and digital transformation.