Think outside the box - what a stupid approach
If I hear one more person say “We need to think outside the box.” I am going to throw up. This is not the answer to your challenges or problems – it’s a myth. Let me explain.
I am sure you have – said it, heard it or at some point tried to figure out exactly what does this mean. What does it mean – try something new, try seeming different, stop doing things the same ways – etc etc.
What is thinking outside the box exactly? Is it modifying current techniques or approaches in some way or just tweaking what isn’t working?
There are three things you need to ask when something isn’t working; how isn’t it working, why isn’t it working and what would working look like? Until you get honest answers to these questions – forget the box.
Until you have reality based answers to these three basic questions you can’t move on to the next step and it isn’t thinking outside the box and why not? In a nutshell;
First of all what is the box? It’s a paradigm, a way of looking at things the way you always have for whatever reasons; comfort, ease, convenience or political correctness etc. Keep in mind that these rationales are yours only and don’t necessarily represent what’s good, right, better or the best and you have them for a reason - most likely because you are used to them.
Here’s the problem with the idea of thinking outside the box.
Something isn’t working so you need to change something. So you try something new or different (out of the box). It doesn’t work for whatever reason and now you have a choice, keep trying new or different things hoping for better results but nothing still seems to work so your next choice will normally be to “jump back in the box.” Bad idea. It wasn’t working before you jumped out of the box, so why do you think it will work better now after trying new things/approaches that didn’t work out to your expectations, needs or desires? So - it’s back to what was and why? Well, even though it didn’t work before at least it was more comfortable and familiar than the lack of success you had with new approaches.
The other problem is that when you think outside the box what do you think you will tend to bring to new attempts? The memory of past mistakes, previous assumptions, desired expectations and the experiences you had while trying to make the past work.
Trust me, I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to think outside the box because something wasn’t working but in reality, I didn’t need to start all over but just analyze a few simple things. I know, you can say “Well, Tim, that’s thinking outside the box.” Sorry. Thinking outside the box implies a new start.
Ask any inventor and they will tell you that when something isn’t working it doesn’t mean they have to begin again with something new.
But here’s another way to look at this. Throw the box away when something isn’t working. So when you try something new and if it doesn’t work there is no box you can jump back into. You have to make the new approach(s) work better than what you were used to doing.
Edison, Gates, Jobs and hundreds of others did one of two things when something wasn’t working – analyze, evaluate and reconsider or they threw the box away and began again.
When you throw the box away it doesn’t mean you can’t take the lessons, learning and experience from previous stuff but that you leave behind the need to stay comfortable with something old.
Everything can be better. Anything can be improved. The problem is that far too many people settle for what is working even though it could be far better if they would let go of their need for approval of others, ego, the fear of failure or the need to have it right the first time.
I’ll guarantee you that NASA, The Center for Disease Control and any organization didn’t achieve the success they desired the first time they tried something and that on many occasions they had to start again leaving behind the effort, resources and time invested in what didn’t work.
Throw the box away!