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What is the Box and How Do We Think Outside of it?

Think outside the box. It’s an idiom as old as time but what does it really mean? As creativity in business becomes increasingly necessary we find ourselves looking for a literal way to interpret the saying. What even is the box and how do we catapult ourselves outside of it? According to experts in business creativity, “the box” is the way we view the world and stepping outside of it requires us to turn that on its head. It’s a strange phenomenon to ask the rational voice inside of us to doubt everything we know, but that’s the key. We must think differently to create differently, fostering a process free of fear and inhibitions. Alan Iny, co-author of Thinking in New Boxes: A New Paradigm for Business Creativity states that this will “create a culture that is open to creative risk-taking and an environment where failure is accepted as part of the creative process.” Now that we’ve identified what exactly it is we’re thinking outside of, the next part is working out how to take that step. Well, there’s a formula:

  1. You must doubt what you know and allow yourself to think differently
  2. Don’t be afraid to explore every option
  3. Generate new ideas based on these options. No idea can be too small or strange
  4. After that, hone these ideas in, think critically and select the best ones
  5. Continue to re-evaluate to stay consistently current

Thinking outside the box can be a structured way to allow ourselves to create. Don’t be inhibited by fear or familiarity. “True leaders must develop the capacity for radical originality,” says Iny. “They must re-imagine and reinvent the world in totally unexpected ways.” It is only with game changing ideas that you can change the game yourself.

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