October 3, 2011
Liz published this at 7:31 am
There Is No Box
That box that everyone talks about — the one that we’re encouraged to think outside — came to be without a thought. No one decided or built a process called “Thinking Inside the Box.”
It was an accident, a management issue.
It’s easier and more efficient to run a school or a corporation of people when we teach, talk, and manage to the group.
Can you imagine how chaotic a school or a corporation would be if every student or every employee got to decide on his or her own creative version of “what works”?
So how can we bring leadership to every level and not ignite a mess that makes things worse? In the name of management, we build a bias toward one way of thinking in a sea of creativity.
Find the Genius in YOU — Stop Believing in the Box
When many of us weren’t looking, we learned about looking:
- how to look at things the way other folks do particularly at the things our teachers revealed.
- how to solve problems and show our work — or how to work them out the way we were shown.
We learned useful and appropriate skills for working in top-down managed groups:
- to finish the calculation to the deadliest detail even though we already knew the answer wouldn’t solve the problem we were trying to solve.
- to paint by numbers,
- to color inside the lines,
- to keep our curiosity inside the comfort of the teacher, the goals of the curriculum, and the norms of the group.
Within those boundaries our thoughts were caught much like a mime stays inside an invisible box.
And like the invisible box that the mime pushes and touches. The box that we think inside isn’t real.
The way to start thinking outside the box is easy enough — stop believing in the box.
Life Without the Box
The biggest problem with thinking inside the box is that for the mostpart, we’re relying on a model we learned, and so when we “show our work,” we’re really showing how someone else figured it out it.
Life without the box opens us.
New mind channels become available — creativity, flexibility, fluency, elaboration, and original thought. We break the habit of always doing “someone else’s work.”. The resources of your brain are freed up. Even better, it’s more fun, once you get used to it, because thinking outside of the proverbial box involves playing with ideas not just thinking.
DaVinci knew it.
Einstein knew it..
Lots of folks with divergent hair do it.
Most inventors only find the inside of the box to test things after they’re through seeing what they can do. Nothing new is achieved or gathered by staying where everyone else is thinking. And when we do get out of our usual ways of thinking, we land smack dab inside our own genius.
So let’s get on with getting out of it so that we can get into it.
Here’s one way to find the genius in you …
Even new creative, flexible, fluent, elaborative, original thinking needs structure. Let’s use a problem-solution format.
- Pick a problem.
- Move outside it. You can’t really see a situation when you’re part of it.
- Identify your greatest weaknesses.
- Look for how those weaknesses provides openings … Ask yourself “how can this weakness be a strength?” If your back is against the wall, no one can sneak up behind you. If you’re smaller, you’re more agile. If you’re unconventional, you’ve got surprise on your side.
- Leverage all of those new found strength into a single unexpected opportunity.
So, if you’re ready, I am. Enough with this introduction, let’s let the games begin. Everyone can think like a genius. It only takes a little practice, and a firm commitment. Throw away the darn box.
Put together your best out of the box thinking to find the strongest opening. Then check it against what a traditional in the box thinking would do to shore up any inconsistencies. That’s how to use your genius thinking to reveal opportunity.
Is inside or outside the box more comfortable for you?
–ME “Liz” Strauss