Tag Archives: think different

Think Metaphorically– Outside the Box, Inside the Box, Beyond the Box: Creativity is a Different Way of Thinking…

‘Think outside the box’ is an overused cliché… Nevertheless, it does capture the idea that creativity means trying and exploring different ideas… It’s heard again and again, an executive admonishing a team to ‘think outside of the box’… Of course, the intention is to inspire and to ‘think creatively’, but the problem is that it’s an uninspiring, uncreative, unencouraging way to say it… In fact, it can be darn right unproductive…

According to Tom Stevens; cliché is antithesis of creativity, and ‘out of the box’ is as cliché as it comes. Everyone knows what it means, but it’s hardly a trigger for ideas that are– different, creative, breakthrough… The human brain does respond to metaphors but in very subtle and profound ways, e.g.; if a ‘box’ is a metaphor for your experience then ‘out-of-the-box‘ suggests that you trying to discover something new and totally outside of that experience… The trouble is that thinking about things outside of your experience is almost impossible… Asking someone to ‘think outside the box’ is like asking someone to list unforeseeable events…

In the article To Think Outside The Box, Go Outside The Box by Dileep Rao writesMetaphors can help make sense of the unfamiliar by comparing them to something understandable. By looking at the familiar with new eyes, you might realize that you are blind to the obvious, or you forgot an essential element, or you discovered something entirely different… Hence metaphor can change your viewpoint by forcing you to multiplicity, i.e.; looking at things from many points of view– by re-framing situations, metaphors help creative thinking… 

One of the  most common metaphor or cliché in business is to ‘think outside the box’ (OTB)… And even though many business cultures encourage employees to ‘think’ OTB… but they really do not ‘go’ OTB… For many organization, the reluctance or inability, to shake core business habits by going OTB, i.e.; from established behaviors to a more riskier ones– can be dangerous, especially when revolutionary trends can seriously disrupt the organization. Hence in order to ‘think’ outside the box, it helps to ‘be’ outside the box… Here are a few reasons:

  • No constraints: When you are on the outside you are not limited or influenced by established behaviors… hence your thinking can seek different ways to get things done…
  • Blank-slate thinking: When you are on the outside you have a blank-slate– relatively little extra baggage that can seriously influence your thinking… hence you can create new or different rules based on the reality of situation…
  • Revolutionary trending: When you are on the outside you can adopt new revolutionary advances to gain a competitive edge rather than seeking small, evolutionary changes… Small change is like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic…
  • Bottom-up analyzing: When you are on the outside you can work for the bottom-up to determine how to make customers happier without the constraints of existing practices…

In the article Think Outside the Box and Creativity by Douglas Eby  writes: What if you could boost creativity by taking metaphors literally, such as; ‘thinking outside the box’, or ‘on the one hand, then on the other hand’? Here is where Angela Leung and her colleagues created experiments with people acting out the metaphors, literally: In one experiment, each participant was seated either, inside or outside of a five-by-five-foot cardboard box. The two environments were set-up to be the same in every way, and people didn’t feel claustrophobic in the box. Participants were told that it was a study on different work environments… Each person was given a widely used test for creativity; the finding showed that those who were ‘outside the box’ tested better, than those who were ‘inside the box’...

In another experiment, participants were asked to join two halves of a coaster that had been cut (before the test)– this representation was to demonstrate; putting ‘two + two’ together. People who acted out the metaphor displayed more convergent thinking– a component of creativity that requires putting together various scenarios, then settling on one that works… Another experiments found that walking around ‘randomly’ generated more original ideas than walking in a ‘preset-line’. And still another test found that there is truth in ‘on the one hand, then on the other hand’…

All this suggests that there is some validation to metaphors that are used when talk about creativity… According to Angela Leung; having a leisurely walk outdoors or freely pacing around helps clear the mindset– it’s getting-up and walking away from your cubicle (the box) that can also create space for creative thinking…

In the article Thinking Outside the Box by Joycelyn Campbell writes: If you are stymied by the prospect of ‘thinking outside the box’, you may be relieved to find out that you cannot actually do it… The box is the mental model through which you view and interpret the world. You are always ‘inside the box’, in one compartment or another… The ‘box’ is a symbol of constraint– what you see, what you think, how you feel, what you do… The ‘box’ has implication of rigidity, squareness, and symbolizes constrained, unimaginative thinking… In contrast to the open and unrestricted ‘out of the box‘… Thinking  creatively is being  unimpeded by orthodox and conventional constraints…

The metaphor– ‘thinking outside the box’ has become so hackneyed as to be rather meaningless. The ‘box’ has come to represent all things that limit thinking, so ‘thinking outside the box’ means being able to transcend those limitations… Out-of-the-box thinking doesn’t require people to rewire their brains or take courses in creativity… To think outside the box requires only to ask: Is there a different way to think about an issue or thing?

It’s a myth: researchers have found that the conceptual link between ‘thinking outside the box’ and ‘creativity’ fails to produce the desired creativity… And far from being hindrance– past experience, training can be a key to creative thinking… According to Frans Johansson;  instead of trying to think outside the box, people are better served by deliberately– stretching, expanding, learning, exposing… oneself to new situations, different viewpointsNew and different ideas are not spun from thin air, creativity involves; synthesizing, remixing, reenvisioning what’s already inside the box. Hence creativity is all about; building a better box, a different box…

Cutting-Edge Thinking is Think about Thinking: Is the Internet Making You Stupid, in Your Thinking? Too Little, Too Slow…

THINK! Think is a word that most people read but don’t do, or don’t do enough of … According to Gitomer; consider these elements of how thinking affects every area of your business: • Thinking is the process used to make a decision. • Thinking is vital to attitude. • Thinking is vital to response. • Thinking is vital to action. • Thinking is vital to outcome…

Thinking is a process that’s developed through conscious practice… One of the classic objections (or stalls) of all time is– ‘I want to think it over’… Yes, THINK! is complex – that’s why most people don’t do it properly, or at all… John Patterson, founder of  NCR Company in 1880, created the word; THINK! as a motto, and directive for his business… Have you ever consciously thought about the way you unconsciously or subconsciously think? Have you ever thought about how thinking affects outcomes and results?

According to John Gottman; when you are thinking your unconscious is at work sifting through the situation in front of you, throwing out all the irrelevant information while zeroing in on what really matters; a person’s unconscious is really good at this… this process of thin-slicing information often delivers a better answer than more deliberate and exhaustive ways of thinking...

According to Ricardo Oliveras; there are ‘thinking traps’ and a lot of them have to do with our natural bias, for example; thinking you are better than you are (i.e., overconfidence in your abilities, memory, intuition or gut)… Trying to confirm decisions you have already made (i.e., looking for confirmation, protecting status quo or sunk costs…), or unquestioning your thoughts and assumptions…

You can avoid these traps by talking to people who hold different points of view– it’s important to have diversity in thinking, but there is one trap that is intrinsic to groups; the ‘group think’ trap. To avoid ‘group think’– be sure that dissenting opinions are heard, and that critical thinking is always being encouraged…

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Is The Internet Changing the Way You Think? According to Nicholas Carr; I’m not thinking the way I used to think; and the ever-deepening dependence on networking technology is indeed changing not only the way you think, but also the structure of your brains… We don’t bother to write down or memorize detailed information any more, we just do an Internet search to retrieve it, when we need it… The Internet has become a global prosthesis for your collective memory… And,  some experts say, that you may be losing some of your capacity for contemplative thinking that was fostered by the ‘print-media’ culture, but other experts say that you are gaining new and essential ways of thinking, working, living… through the Internet…

According to Sarah Churchwell; Is the Internet changing your brain?  As a writer, thinker, researcher and teacher, what I can attest to is that the Internet is changing my habits of thinking, dramatically… According to Geoff Dyer; sometimes I think my ability to concentrate is being nibbled away by the Internet; other times I think it’s being gulped down in huge, jaws-shaped chunks… I remember those quaint days before the Internet; at work, once you made it to your desk there wasn’t much to distract you; you could sit there working, or you could just sit there…

But now you sit and there is a distraction; there is the Internet with a universe of possibilities– many of them obscurely relevant to the work you should be doing… According to Bidisha; the Internet is definitely affecting the way I think, for the worse. The Internet means that we can never get away from yourself, temptations and obsessions. There’s something very depressing about knowing I can literally and metaphorically log-on the same homepage, wherever I am in the world…

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In the article How To Think Differently by Haydn Shaughnessy writes: A basic definition of innovation is thinking differently– it’s a process of associative thinking, and it happens more when you mash-up a lot of ideas or sources of information... According to Daniel Kahneman, in his book ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’; he points out that we have two thought process: One is ‘slow’– expertise-building that allows you to organize and access a body of evidence about your reality… The other is ‘fast’ a style of thinking for rapid decision-making that you do when you are forced to recognize new patterns or responds to the emotional urges that govern how you treat people…

You typically oscillate between these two modes of thinking, but in a rapidly changing world, it’s the ‘thinking-fast’ bit tends to dominate. The key to effective thinking is to balance the two– how you think differently and how to think so as to grow your expertise that’s relevant… The reality is that to think differently you must be good at thinking, you must be thoughtful, and this becomes your platform, your expertise… It’s a balance between– thinking fast and slow…

In the article Think Different About Business by Dr. Marc R. Dussault writes: If you were like most people then you do what most other people in your industry do… Yes, you develop your own processes, systems… but by and large you followed the methods of those that have gone before you. This process of copying what other business have done is called ‘mimiticisomorphic’ behavior.

What academics have found is that an industry company will mimic the behavior of other companies and the actually ‘morph’ into them or become like them, over time… whereas, companies should strive to become  ‘anti-mimiticisomorphic’What this means is that you actually think and behave the opposite way to other companies in your industry. Instead of following the trends you buck the trends, so that if your competitors go left, then you go right…

Businesses tend to follow other businesses like sheep. If one company raises their prices, other companies raise their prices. If one company lowers them, other companies lower them. And yet, many times this is done in an unexamined and untested way, without serious thinking… So, what if you were to break out of this sheep mentality– think and find solutions that are– different, better, more innovative, then your competitors. This way of thinking will lead you to better outcomes than thinking like everyone else. Try thinking in new ways…

According to Michael L. Norton; if you are making-decisions the same way you have for many years, then it’s time to, at least, examine your thinking… there’s a large body of research about ways in which you should ‘think’ when making-decisions, for example; creating decision trees that map out different scenarios– if you want to do this, then you should do this and not that, or making lists of the pros and cons and making a decision based on which list is longer, and so on… But, many experts believe the notion that ‘over-thinking’ a decision can also lead to the wrong outcome… Having a leader who considers every detail of information sounds great in theory, but it can be less than optimal for moving forward with a decision: There’s a paralysis that can come with thinking too much…

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Wherever there is uncertainty ‘magical’ thinking finds a foothold, and  people resort to tradition, gut instinct, or the nostrum of the moment to dispel the anxiety of not knowing… According to Jason Gots; just ‘slow down’ and think about your thinking in making a decision… According to James Heskett; good leaders know when to think ‘slow’ or when to think ‘fast’— they understand the thinking that’s associated with– rigid stagnate, unthinking application of age-old rules… Vs. careful reflective thinking on matters that need intelligent, unbiased thought… Then, there is ‘under-thinking’; the leaders that swing too far to the other end of the decision-making thinking spectrum– they don’t think at all…  so often their decision is — ‘Just go with your gut’…

Sometimes when you make decisions with ‘habitual’ thinking, things can work out fine. But that doesn’t mean that the decision produces the best outcome. If you have done the something in the same way for years, it’s probably time to rethink your decision-making– to think differently, a little more… However, when making many decisions people often think either; too much or too little, and pundits have yet to determine the right balance between the two for any given decision.

According to Jack Lannom; the term ‘meta-cognitive’ thinking meansthinking about your thinking’… and leaders who are not equipped with a ‘meta-cognitive’ thinking mind-set for examining their company’s basic and underlying structures that creates and drives effective change in their organization will probable never, in the primary sense, have the capability or capacity to solve present or future problems at the deepest level…

Hence, an imperative for many companies is for everyone on the leadership team to practice ‘meta-cognitive’ thinking; that is, for each person to think about their thinking as individuals, and to think about the way your organization thinks…

Power of Thinking Differently– Invent, Imagine, Create, Disrupt.. Change the World: Companies Must Think Different or Fail…

Thinking differently: Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers… Here’s to the ones who see the world differently… They’re the ones who invent, imagine, create…

They’re the ones who push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to believe they can change the world are the ones who actually do– they ‘think different’… This theme is from– Apple’s, Steve Jobs; ‘Think Different’ Ad campaign, 1997…

According to Lauchlan Mackinnon; I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about just what exactly it means to ‘think differently’ and the meaning is not as simple as it sounds! The Apple campaign was very clever– it inspired people to become one of those– crazy ones, one of these innovators, one of the people who change the world… But this Apple theme also, interestingly, explored– who thinks differently, how people who ‘think different’ can be geniuses or misfits or exceptional or stubborn, they might or might not fit in… But they make a difference– they do important work and they change the world…

Also, there are other ways people can think differently, for example: Be revolutionary– question old ways of doing things… Be an innovator– create new powerful ways to do things… Be  creative– express new powerful ideas… Be a performer– push boundaries, think in new ways that lead to improved results… Be a seeker– gain a deeper, better understanding of the world… Be a visionary– imagine an expanded vision of what’s possible and what’s worthwhile… Be independent– think independent for yourself… Be a leader– have the courage to discover and express your individual uniqueness…

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In the article Ability to Think Differently by Gary Bertwistle writes: The key to the future of business is thinking differently… All great accomplishments come from people who think differently about something… all innovations come people who are prepared to think differently… Even ‘inside the box’ can look at things differently… People use the quote the cliché: ‘Think outside the box’ and sometimes it’s necessary to think ‘outside the box’ in order to push forward, but often we also do good things by thinking ‘inside the box’, and do it better…

The real advantage over the competitors is the ability to look at something, and think about it differently… By having the courage to consider different options– you will automatically be creative, innovative and the outcome will be a problem well solved… Don’t focus on creativity– focus on getting people to think differently and creativity will be the result, for example; imagine if the receptionist thought: What I do differently or better today than I did yesterday? Or if the finance department were looking at operations of the business thinking: How can we do things differently to improve?  What if the sales team approached things differently, looking for improvements or new solutions to current or potential problems? How much time is allocated in your diary for thinking about the business, and considering what you could do differently?

Thinking differently is coming up with lists of options to solve problems, challenges… When you constantly push boundaries to think differently, you leap-frog the competition… Thinking differently is a discipline, desire… it’s a rejection of mediocrity, status quo… In fact, if you’re not thinking differently then the person in the next office, then why are you needed? If a company is doing exactly the same thing as the competition, then why do customers need it? Thinking differently is the currency of the future… it’s business of the future… it’s the power of the future…

In the article Truth About Thinking Differently by Andrew Bennett writes: For decades we’ve been saying; ‘think outside the box’, and in a world where rapid, frequent innovation is essential, it’s certainly desirable to think differently. But admonishing people to think differently is an empty wish unless we understand a little more about how the brain works, and steps we can take to actually shift our thinking…

The brain is very efficient– it turns much of its processing over to ‘autopilot’ in order to maximize the ability to handle things that require more brain power… Most of our thinking is on ‘autopilot’– when we admonish our teams, colleagues… to think differently we’re actually going against the way a brain is wired… Although 95% of our thinking is the same from day-to-day, we can make changes such that new thinking can happen… Here are three ways:

  • Understand what inspires you: It’s hard to think creatively when constantly reacting to business situations… face situations throughout the day based on what you’re trying to accomplish, create… and don’t simply react…
  • Become conscious of your story: Life experiences shape a ‘story’ that influences the way you navigate your actions… Being conscious of your personal ‘story’ enables you to know when you’re simply sticking with a safe strategy… understanding your ‘story’ or your inter-influences enables you to adjust, and begin to think differently…
  • Check your assumptions: Be an observer of your own thinking and challenge the facts upon which you base your thinking… step back, check your thinking process in order to engage in more effective thinking…

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In the article Think Differently by Steve Denning writes: What does it take to come up with thinking that’s– value-adding, game-changing innovations? According to Rosabeth Moss Kanter; Thinking ‘outside the box’ is not enough– the greatest breakthroughs will come from leaders who encourage thinking– outside a whole building full of boxes… The problem of innovation today is right ‘in the heart’ of the corporation, at the highest level…

The core problem is the very thinking by which decisions, at the C-suite level, are made. It’s the thinking that is still taught in business schools that measures results in terms of short-term performance and stock price… and that’s the problem… According to Clayton Christensen; nothing will change unless the thinking that’s now prevalent in business and in business schools– for how business decisions are made– also changes... Indeed, when the business has a short-term mindset; the stranger the new ideas and the less likely they  will be funded… Merely changing sources of ideas is unlikely to produce a different result…

Game-changing innovation lies outside the performance envelope of businesses built on hierarchical bureaucracy where the top management is focused on short-term gains and the stock price… Game-changing innovation requires a different kind of management with a new corporate bottom line in which value-adding innovation is necessity, not an option. Instead of focusing exclusively on short-term gains, efficiency, productivity… basic goals must shift from– internal to external focus, for example; primary business priority must be delighting customers through continuous value-adding innovation… Game-changing innovation requires a fundamentally different way of– thinking, managing, doing… It’s a paradigm shift in management…

In John C. Maxwell’s bookHow Successful People Think’ writes: Thinking is discipline– you must work at it… You must figure out where to focus your energy, and then use the 80/20 rule… Devote 80% of your energy to the most important 20% of your activities. Remember that you can’t be everywhere, know everyone, and do everything…

Expose yourself to different ideas and types of people… If you have an idea then follow through… Ideas have a short shelf life– you must act on them before the expiration date… Thoughts need time to develop– don’t just settle on the first thing that comes to mind, remember the last time you had a brilliant idea at 2 a.m., but it sounded sort of ridiculous when you woke up the next morning? Thoughts need to be– shaped until they have substance– and then they must stand test of– clarity, questioning…

When questioning popular thinking– you must be prepared for pushback, and be OK with feeling uncomfortable… Plan ahead–but leave room for spontaneity… Be strategic– thinking differently means– do different things… The creative, innovative… ones don’t see limitations, they see possibilities… For example; former baseball star Sam Ewing once said that– ‘nothing is so embarrassing as watching someone do something that you said could not be done’…

Creative people are dedicated to ideas– they embrace ambiguity, don’t fear failure, and hang out with other creative people… Thinking differently is fine but you must be realistic, and that means: 1. appreciate the truth… 2. do homework, get the facts… 3. think through the pros and cons, 4. consider the worst-case scenario, 5. align thinking with resources… Most important– we all can change the way we think– mastering the process leads to thinking differently, which leads to doing different things, which leads to game-changing innovation…

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A ‘think different’ mindset isn’t just a tag line; it captures, reinforces a company’s unique cult-like culture in the way it operates– top to bottom… The most successful businesses have one thing in common– they think differently… According to Roger Martin; it’s impossible to reproduce the successes of great business leaders… so rather than learning from what great leaders have done, a more productive starting point is to learn from how they think…

In order to stay competitive, leaders, organizations… must break status quo and think ‘outside the box’, i.e., think ‘outside the box’ but ‘inside the circle’… Break the status quo, but do so in a way that’s creative, yet practical, effective…Its about time to start thinking differently… become more original… question the way you do business… According to John C. Maxwell; the world is not shaped by those who think the same, but by those who dare to think differently…

According to Bob Johansen; most leadership models are based on the present and past, whereas, the future requires a different set of leadership models, skills… Leaders will operate in a different world– volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous (VUCA)… This means embracing a collaborative leadership style– collaboration, in this context, means more than just working together across geographical, organizational boundaries; it’s bringing together, integrating… people with different ideas, backgrounds, capabilities, ideas, potentially…

According to Navi Radjou; business leaders must be able to manage multiple viewpoints, perspectives… across the company… But rather than trying to seek convergence, which is the easy route, companies must encourage divergence– divergence leads to diversity, which leads to more innovation... According to Vijay Govindarajan, conventional western business thinking embraced the attitude that companies– take existing products created for customers in developed countries, markets… and then scale them down for emerging markets… However, consider the opposite or ‘reverse innovation’ (i.e., new way of thinking)… it advocates developing innovative solutions that work for consumers in the emerging countries, markets… and then apply those innovations to developed markets, globally…

In fact, the very business best practices that made global western corporations so successful– actually get in the way of innovating in emerging markets… Now as a test ask: How does your business think differently about your markets, products…? In the movie ‘Dead Poets Society’ there are several inspirational lines that are relevant to this discussion, such as: We must constantly look at things in a different way. Just when you think you know something, then again look at it in a different way. Even though it may seem silly or wrong, you must try– dare to strike out, dare to be different… Ultimately, the key to innovation is not to just think differently, but rather think in a different way about things that are different…