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Thinking Outside the box…

Thinking outside the box? Really? Thinking outside the box is nothing but a trite cliche. How can a cliche describe the antonym of a cliche? How far outside the box can one person think when they use inside-the-box-like thinking to describe thinking outside the box, which is really just a hackneyed overused term for unorthodox thinking, which is a much better description of thinking outside the box… I think..inside or outside the box… I think, therefore, I am or something like that. You still with me? Are you outside that damned box yet?

If a man thinks outside the box in a forest and no one is outside the box to hear said thoughts, do those thoughts make a sound?

Humans no longer work in, live in, exist in boxes. The internet, the explosion of media outlets, social media, and low-cost, ubiquitous global communications exploded those boxes. That’s why I am very skeptical when “Thought Leaders,” show a lack of thought leadership by following the leader who first coined the phrase “Thinking Outside the Box” almost 50 years ago.

We need to step away from the cliche and look more towards the deeper meaning, the root causes, the dangers, and the symptoms of inside-the-box thinking to develop a method that will counter them. What are some of the causes?

  • The Danger of Sharp Focus – Great execution demands sharp focus, limited distractions, and concentrated energy, which, while great for execution, is a primary limiter to innovation. Focus limits the opportunity for serendipitous events that lend themselves to creative solutions.
  • The Groupthink of Homogeneous Teams – With the rise of the independent worker, and the ability to outsource tasks like marketing, blogging, payroll, software development, IT management, and HR, teams are becoming more functionally homogenous and less diverse, which limits a well-rounded discourse.
  • The Tyranny of Limited Resources – Companies are doing more with less in a quest to be more competitive and lean. Executives spend most of their limited time on execution and have less time to deliberate and plan. Today’s executive spends most of their time on how and what and too little time on why.
  • Too Much Time In The Business – and not enough time working on the business.

The question then is in today’s environment of limited time, sharpened focus, and limited resources, how does a person who runs a business find a way to think outside the box enough to realize they must find a way to practice unorthodox thinking?

Join a peer advisory group like my ThinkTank group to Think Outside the Box. How does that help? Let me count the ways:

  1. Diversity of Views – By its very nature, a well-designed peer advisory group comprises diverse non-competitive businesses with diverse backgrounds.
  2. Forced Time Above the Weeds – Every month, members are forced to drag themselves out of the weeds and step back to view the business. This is work-on-the-business time instead of work-in-the-business time.
  3. Professional Outsider – When you join a ThinkTank peer advisory group, you get me as your personal outsider looking in at your business and questioning conventional thinking.
  4. Accountability Partners – In addition to me as the peer group facilitator, a ThinkTank peer group offers a “Jury of your Peers” to hold you accountable and to evaluate every issue from a diverse point of view. A point of view that is unconventional from any you can find within your inside-the-box or outside-the-box company.
  5. Fear – Fear gets the heart pumping but narrows the focus and is a major cause of irrational thinking. Nothing counters fear more than being in a safe place. Leadership is a lonely place, and leaders are rarely afforded a safe opportunity to admit, discuss and develop plans to tackle the fear. Leaders need a safe, non-judgemental forum of their peers where they can be vulnerable, share their fears and confidently solicit others to develop well-rounded plans of action that they can then go forth and confidently execute.

Want to get an unconventional view of your business? Want to develop unconventional solutions to nagging problems? Drag yourself outside the box and check out a ThinkTank peer advisory group. Start by scheduling a complimentary, 1-on-1, and let’s start thinking outside the box together. Alternatively, let’s apply some unconventional thinking to some of the nagging conventional issues that keep your company inside the box.  Schedule your no-obligation, free one-on-one, online coaching session here: