Thinking outside the box is more than just a business cliché. It starts well before we’re “boxed in”, before we confront a unique situation and start forcing it into a familiar “box” that we already know how to deal with. Or at least think we know how to deal with.
hinking outside the box is an idiom that refers to thinking in a creative and innovative way, often by looking at a problem from a different perspective. It is a metaphor for approaching problems and situations with an open mind and thinking unconventionally.
This type of thinking can be used to make difficult decisions, come up with alternative solutions, or to find the best path forward.
Where this idiom comes from?
Henry Ernest Dudeney was a mathematician from the early 20th century. He created a puzzle that asks you to connect nine dots on a three-by-three grid with only four straight lines.
Most people’s first instinct is to stay within the boundaries of the square shape, but the solution requires going beyond the boundaries of the box. Only 20% of participants saw beyond this imaginary box and drew in the white space around the dots.
Tips to think out of the box
#1 Flip concepts or objects
You can gain a new perspective on things by flipping them around to give them a new orientation. For instance, when developing a new design, turning it upside down may help you identify things you didn’t have before.
#2 Learn new skills
Learning new abilities, especially those unrelated to your field, can help you use your brain’s underused regions. Learning a new language, even just a few phrases, is a simple way to get started on this. Your mental abilities will be improved, and you will become more adaptive as a result of this mental challenge.
#3 Do a brain dump
Brain dumping aids in providing clarity and launching the thought process by allowing you to get thoughts from your head and onto paper.
You jot down your ideas as they occur, without editing or worrying about whether they make any sense at all. This compels you to concentrate on what really counts, which is getting those ideas down on paper.
#4 Work backward from the goal
You can concentrate more on the results than the process by working backwards from the objective. As a result, you allow yourself the freedom to be inventive in the process. Key milestones that you can work on alone can also be designed. This enables you to divide the issue into manageable pieces.
#5 Ask someone outside your field
One of the biggest reasons for boxed-in thinking is because you’re too close to the rules to see anything else. Ask someone who doesn’t know the rules of your industry what they would do to solve the problem. You’ll get some new perspectives you’d never see on your own.
Thinking out of the box in the workplace
It’s crucial to think outside the box at work because it can enable you to come up with original solutions to issues. When dealing with limited resources or looking for more effective ways to achieve your goals, using creative thinking can be helpful. We can frequently find the answer we’re seeking if approach the situation from a fresh perspective.
It also helps to brainstorm ‘out there’ ideas with your colleagues. The father of the brainstorming method, Alex Osborn, found it can improve creativity by up to 50%!
- Complete mental exercises: Options for mental exercises include responding to creative writing and poetry prompts, completing crosswords or sketching something you see around you
- Try free writing: Free writing can promote creative thought when brainstorming ideas for a project.
- Adjust your environment: Changing your surroundings can help you adjust your perspective, adapt your habits and be more innovative.
- Collaborate with new colleagues: Changing your surroundings can help you adjust your perspective, adapt your habits and be more innovative.
- Read opposing opinions: When starting a new project, do research into all the different perspectives that you can find on the issue.
It’s easier to think outside the box if you don’t draw one around yourself.
― Jason Kravitz.