“Thinking out of the box or thinking outside the square (especially in Australia) is a metaphor that means to think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective”, according to Wikipedia.
But is it really the only option to find solutions to all our problems?
There’s a surge in Innovation and Startups and to get unique ideas everyone has a notion of out of the box thinking. Internet provides bountiful ways to think out of the box in the form of articles, posts, videos and so on.
Where does this catchphrase come from?
As such the origin of this phrase is uncertain. It is associated to famous nine dot puzzle.The goal of the puzzle is to connect the nine dots using four continuous straight lines. It aims to think outside the box.This puzzle appears in Sam Loyd‘s 1914 Cyclopedia of Puzzles, John Adair claims to have introduced in 1969 . But, Mike Vance, the motivational speaker popularized the phrase “think outside the box”. Few more people might have claimed to coin this phrase, but, the veracity of this phrase is because of the nine dot puzzle.
According to business dictionary, out of the box thinking means:
“Idea generation or problem solving that is not constrained by self-imposed limits or conventional barriers. Being free or breakthrough thinking, it creates new paradigms and explores non-logical and uncommon ways and solutions.”
There are different schools of thoughts on Thinking:
“Always think outside the box and embrace opportunities that appear, wherever they might be” -Lakshmi Mittal
“One of the only ways to get out of a tight box is to invent your way out”- Jeff Bezos
“Instead of thinking outside the box, get rid of the box.”
“Before you think out of the box you have to start with a box”
Books available out there diverge. Few are with the title “Think Out of the Box” by Diane Deacon and Mike Vance and there’s also the book named “Inside the Box: A Proven System of Creativity for Breakthrough Results” by Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg.
Where does it come from?
It is all based on their thinking and learning, their observations and their experiences. What they actually mean to create ideas is to think different from familiar patterns and routines, change the mindset, come out of the comfort zone, step into another world, bring the inner child out, think of the future living and so on.
Some often get frustated thinking they are unable to think out of the box, can’t create ideas for startups and can’t be innovative. So how to overcome this?
Encyclopedia Britannica stated Thinking is not of a single piece. There are many different types of thinking. Thinking depends on structures of problems too.
Types of thinking:
As per some experts, thinking can be divided into:
- Concrete thinking (The Doer)
- Analytical thinking (The Analyst)
- Logical thinking (The Orator)
- Imaginative thinking(The Inventor)
- Creative Thinking(The Original Thinker)
Another way of categorization The Six Thinking Hats
Edward De Bono designed a system of six thinking hats which describes a tool for group discussion and individual thinking.
According to a study our brain thinks in two ways
A psychologist and a Nobel laureate, Daniel Kahneman, known for his remarkable work in the psychology of judgement and decision-making, as well as behavioral economics describes two different ways the brain forms thoughts in his best selling book “Thinking Fast and Slow”
Thinking hinges on Reading
Reading ultimately leads to a better thinking. Majority of millionaires and billionaires developed the habit of reading. But they are highly selective about what they read. They are thankful for being an avid reader. On an average a person reads 200-400 pages per day but Warren Buffett reads 600-1000 pages per day. Warren Buffett’s partner and billionaire Charlie Munger is also a bookworm. His children call him “a book with couple of legs sticking out”. One of his quote says “Go to bed smarter than when you woke up”.
On an average a person can read around 12 books per year but Bill Gates reads about 50 books per year. Billionaire David Rubenstein also has a habit of reading dozens of books per week. Elon Musk learned to build rockets with his habit of reading books. Abraham Lincoln walked miles to borrow books to read. Theodore Roosevelt read on average a book a day. Mark Cuban has a habit of reading 3 hours per day. Tony Robbins took speed reading course in high school and read 700 books in 7 years. Most people are able to read 200-250 words per minute but with speed reading skills this speed goes on to 1000 words per minute or even more.
Everyone has their own perspective about the same problem. No two people have the same way of thinking. Quality of thinking matters more than the way of thinking. Inspiration and motivation affects the different levels of thinking. All depends on how often the distraction can be controlled.
Obviously sky is not the limit and so is the way of generating ideas. Ideas pop out from time to time while doing other work, they also creep in while observing the world and we call it a Eureka moment. Everyone actually has the set of ideas. But just being flooded with the ideas is not enough. Action is more important to make it an innovation or a well established startup.