Magazine article Management Today

Thinking outside the Box

Magazine article Management Today

Thinking outside the Box

Article excerpt

Despite the popularity of the phrase with David Brent-type bosses, you can't think outside the box. No one can - not even me, and I have been described (by the editor of this magazine, no less) as 'a man who lives permanently outside the box'.

We all try to understand the world by putting things into categories, so we are all, one way or another, firmly inside the box. If you would like to see things differently, to come up with novel and productively different ways of doing things, trying to get outside it won't help. What you need to do is find or create some new boxes.

Newton wasn't thinking out of the box when he developed his theory of gravity or laws of motion. He was building a bigger, better box to think inside. Two centuries later Einstein did the same, building another even bigger box, one that contained all of Newton's theories but also explained the things that Newton couldn't.

So when you feel stuck or that things don't make sense, don't try to think outside the box. Look for some better boxes. The good news is that you don't need to be Newton or Einstein to do this; the range of ideas used in business is so infinitesimally small in relation to the sum of human knowledge that you need move only a small way past the usual management suspects to find something useful. …

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