To think out of the box, one has to recognise first that there is a box. Therefore one has to see boundaries and understand what is inside and outside.
The box maybe very big, so there may be lots of unexplored areas inside the box, that don’t require us to have to go out of the box. But the box may be limited as well. Out of the box would be ideal here. Question is, would people trained in the box, with little idea of the world outside the box, be good at exploring out of the box thinking? Probably not.
Could people from other boxes see our own differently? Or would the fact that they are inside their own, prevent them from even seeing the possibilities of all boxes? Maybe.
Some people don’t see the box at all, are not aware of the borders. Other people see the box well and are interested in defining and redefining the box. They see possibilities: pink, small, big, red, large, mini, different kinds of boxes.
We have the PhDs in Box Management, the Within the Box Consultants and the Always Out of the Box people, who take terrible care about the box itself.
There was an old cartoon circulating a long time ago with two people talking to each other. One says: ‘My team is having trouble thinking outside the box, we can’t agree on the size of the box, what materials the box should be constructed from, a reasonable budget for the box, or our first choice of box vendors’. Do you know these people?
It’s incredible what you can do with a box as a typology of people in the organization.
Questions to navigate: define our box, can we see it? The Boundaries? Do we need to at least couple all the time, one in-the-box-thinking with one out-of-the box thinking?
A good way to start the conversation is ‘let’s define the box’. By doing so, you will open all sorts of possibilities, and some of them may not be required to be out. As a rule of thumb, before ‘thinking out of the box’, make sure that ‘within the box’ has been fully explored.
The Box Brainstorm is always a rich platform for conversations.