Do you think out of the box?

by Vinaya HS on April 5, 2006

in The SP Jain Blog

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Have you ever been advised to “think out of the box”? If yes, you would probably want to forward this snippet to the advisor. If not, it would be a good idea to bookmark this link for the not so distant point in future when someone does tell you to “think out of the box.” The excerpt below is from a Brand Innovation webcast we had at our office recently. Unfortunately, I can’t publish the whole transcript.

Presenter: Now I can illustrate that for you at the level of clichés. Everywhere in the world I’ve discovered that I can start the clichés of innovation. And people, no matter what their culture, whatever their geographic region, can finish them. The clichés about innovation are very pervasive.

So let me do this. Greatest thing since sliced?

Audience: Bread.

Presenter: Right. Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a?

Audience: Path to your door.

Presenter: Path to your door. You ever done a Google search on mousetraps? Try it some time. I mean, there’s an astonishing array of things you can do to mice.

You can trap them, you can rehabilitate them, you can electrocute the suckers, you can create habitrails for that are really quite luxurious. There’s all I kinds of things you can do for mice. And there are people with severe mice infestations all around the world. Do these people find each other? There’s no evidence of it.

Presenter: But the world’s most pervasive cliché about innovation, of course, is time to think out of?

Audience: The box.

Presenter: Right. Almost nobody remembers where that stupid box comes from. And it happened to you when you were much younger and you were in one workshop one day that was being run by somebody that had, like, one bad psychology class. And he or she would challenge you to connect all nine dots with four straight lines without ever removing your pencil or pen from the page. Do you remember this?

Audience: Yes.

Presenter: And would be impatient, giving you maybe 45 seconds to solve this before revealing to you that the only way to solve it is to make sure that the lines go well outside of the perceived boundaries of the so-called box.

Now here’s the dirty little secret that they never told you. There is no correlation, ladies and gentlemen, none whatsoever, not a shred of evidence that the people that can solve this stupid puzzle can actually innovate better than anybody else.

[Vinaya: Does this remind you of your job interview(s)?]

And worse, for the vast majority of us, it contributes to the large and growing sense that most of us have that we’re really not adequate to our tasks. It’s mostly about making you feel really bad about yourself.

Do you still want to think out of the box?

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