Friday, November 29, 2013

“Out of the Box” Thinking

"Out of Box" Thinking is really just shaping a Bigger Box, a New Box of Thinking. 

Out of Box Thinking implies a certain level of creativity or unconventional problem-solving. While the box is usually conceptualized as an intellectual boundary, it is most often an emotional one, with fear as the dominant emotion, because fear is the glue that holds the box together. With fear gone, people don't suddenly become creative, but you have a shot.

Try changing the box for a much bigger. More precisely, “Outside the Box’ thinking is the New Box thinking. One question always ask is WHAT exactly is IN the box....we talk about getting out of it, often, businesses regularly forget what's IN it. And then, look beyond the light you see when you first jump out of the box for answers, not just what your eyes are still blinking at, but look around, look above and look deeper. It is difficult to think outside the box from within. Invite other in, or get out of the box. For real creativity, take a look at outside your industry - far outside your industry. If you have to pull the team out of the box. That's when the real ideas work.

Out of Box Thinking still needs to have logic. While there may not be a box, there has to be a target. The most effective brainstorming is focused on a clear and targeted objective. The idea of brainstorming or the crucible of confrontation can be useful, but in order to "guide" the participants through the stages of it, you still need a structured process for unstructured thinking. otherwise, things such as personal dynamics, seniority, grade etc will limit its potential. Maximum value can occur if one follows a logical process that incorporates brainstorming:
1) What is the problem?
2) What is the cause of the problem (in-depth thought here often opens up the creative "outside the box" solution set)?
3) What are possible solutions?
4) What is the best solution?
5) Implement and repeat

Don’t get too restricted by logic processes. Don't constrain thinking by considerations that belong to one or more steps ahead. The real kicker during the "logical process" is restraining the group to not move ahead even subconsciously. Applying reasonable time constraints, but allowing freedom of "no-idea-is-a-bad-idea" thoughts in this process and have the team to solve a collective problem. Also, fundamentally, be sure to get all potential perspectives involved, so everyone has a say and no one can say they weren't asked. Management is really open-minded to implement fresh new ideas, it often comes down to two things: being explicit about purpose, and sincerity in problem-solving. Regardless of what technique folks use to solve a problem, in most cases, the question of "What is the purpose we are striving for? And laser focus on goals, not processes.

Cross-Functional brainstorming leads to Out-of-the-Box innovation: The other area for successful brainstorming is to make sure the people in the room are not intimidated and unable to participate. At organizations with hierarchical culture, it is useful to group people by "level" in the organization avoiding putting bosses and staff in the same group. This help to avoid intimidation (despite how unintentional) staff may feel when presenting ideas around superiors. The group can and should be cross functional as appropriate however people are less guarded when they do not feel judged, the reluctance to test ideas is reduced when people are concerned about appearing less prepared or like they will be judged. Humans have egos.

'C-Generation' Thinking has natural cross-box interaction: "Thinking outside the box" and "brainstorming,", these terms are still within the box and are not clearly understood by today's workforce, sometimes referred to as the "C-Connecting generation"? Thinking outside the box and brainstorming is approached very differently, as today's employees search for connections across many discussions at the same time, sometimes in a short burst at a time. There’s also need to add another level to the discussion that is continuous improvement. The native digital generation may solve problems differently from older generation – they view the "group" as very important and hierarchy is less identifiable. Indeed, we are all C-Generation now.

Thinking "Outside the Box" is simply all part of a well round paradigm. It is not only the ideas that are important, but the challenge and willingness to try, the atmosphere in which the ideas are presented, the mindset out of fear and mediocre, and the culture to catalyze innovation.  


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