How to think outside of the box

Thinking outside of the box starts with putting yourself in an open minded state and with suspending judgment. It’s great to start with a brainstorm session during which every idea is welcome. Even if it’s a “crazy” idea. You can actually practice this step by asking yourself: “What is the craziest idea I can come up with to solve a specific problem?” This will take the lid of the mind which wants to “keep it reasonable and practical”. Only once enough ideas are on the board, the second phase begins. This phase is about editing the ideas by grouping them by similarity, by practicality, by affordability etc.

For organizations sometimes group dynamics also play a role. If you have 10 people on your team you have 100 pairs of relationships (10×10), and the same number of identities in this group which creates a certain inertia, a resistance to change. There are a few ways to counteract this intertia:

  1. Tell everybody that inertia is a good thing because it is energy.
  2. All that is needed is to redirect this energy.
  3. Assign a different character  to each team member (like a director would do with an actor in a movie).
  4. Select a problem then do a “Crazy Idea” brainstorm session.
  5. Select a problem then do a “Good Idea” brainstorm session.
  6. Filter ideas of the crazy set through financial, resource, strategy alignment and other filters. Work at least one of the crazy ideas down to a viable option.
  7. Do the same for the good ideas from the second brainstorm session.

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