Thursday, May 7, 2009

How to think out-of-the Box?

“Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.” - Hyman Rickover

Whenever people are confronted with several problems they brood over on the problems rather than looking at the solutions. A few people look at the problems and find a few solutions and opt for the best one. And there is another set of people; they look at the problems from different multiple perspectives unconventionally and come out with viable and feasible solutions. When they think in novel and unconventional we may call it as out of the box thinking. In a nut shell, “Out of the box thinking” can be defined the process of thinking multiples solutions for a given problem by coming out of conventional constraints and barriers. The concept originated from USA in late 1960s and early 1970s and several management experts are responsible for evolving this concept.

‘Out of the box thinking’ is basically status quo ante. It is mostly possible for trailblazers who leave a mark behind. Those who think outside the box are creative people and are basically ideas and solutions oriented people. They have the extraordinary ability to generate multiples solutions for each problem. They are non-traditional and unconventional thinkers. Many inventions are the result of out of the box thinking.

Please Don’t Read This:

The author wrote a case study titled “Please Don’t Read This…Prof.M.S.Rao” and posted in his Blog. It was an interesting case study and helps people to think and analyze the case study. It contained emotions, feelings, egos and hidden and unexpressed love between two personalities (Ref http://profmsr.blogspot.com/2009/03/please-dont-read-this-profmsrao.html ). Usually when people are asked to read, they may not read. But when they were asked not to read then they began reading and there was an overwhelming response to the post with cross section of people offering their comments. It was an instant hit. It was possible as the author thought unconventionally and created curiosity among the readers to come to his Blog and read.

Dhirubhai Ambani:

When we look at Indian businesses, Dhirubhai Ambani rose from ranks and established Reliance Empire by adopting unconventional methods during license raj. There were too many controls for doing business in those days in India. But he explored unconventional ways and means to promote business and became a successful entrepreneur. He started the equity cult in India which helped his business to grow as well as the Indian investors. He taught Indian investors about the share market business and encouraged them to explore investments in this area. He brought investor education and awareness. All this was possible through ‘out of the box thinking’. Whenever people are faced with stumbling blocks they convert the same into building blocks through creative methods.

Competition and Creativity:

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” - Mary Lou Cook

The business world is beset with cut throat competition and to beat the competition, companies are trying to innovate themselves with new features, products and services. Although people say that competition is a bane, but, in business world it is treated as a boon as it keeps the companies moving forward with creativity and innovation. Companies try to offer products, services with more features for lesser, cheaper and faster ways and means. It ultimately benefits the consumers. The ‘out of the box’ methods and unconventional business strategies will help stay ahead of competition thereby adding value to consumers.

Mahatma Gandhi’s Unconventional Leadership:

When the entire world was beset with attaining independence through violence, Mahatma Gandhi came up with the tenets of truth and non-violence for attaining India’s independence. Everyone doubted the competency and relevance of these principles as people believed in the principle of ‘might is right’. Finally, Mahatma Gandhi led to India’s independence through non-conventional methods successfully. Martin Luther King applied the same to bring equal rights for black along with whites. Leaders always believe in ‘thinking out of the box’. They never follow the crowd. They rather follow where there is no path thus leaving a mark behind.

Susan and Ron:

Ron and Susan worked in a similar department in an organization. Ron and Susan gelled with each other as they have several commonalities. Ron was extrovert, with energy and enthusiasm. Susan was introvert and a woman with strong character. She was bold and beautiful. She was a very cool, composed and charismatic woman. He enjoyed talking with Susan often. And Susan also liked the company of Ron. Gradually they developed mutual admiration for each other. Both Ron and Susan usually did not interact with other colleagues unless there was any official communication. Other colleagues in the office were surprised with these two people interacting with each other. There were two women colleagues who were jealous with the amicable relations and they began giving negative inputs about Susan to Ron. Ron was basically an independent and original thinker and could smell the negative intentions and kept away from these two negative women.

Since the plan did not work out, these two women kept on giving negative inputs about Ron to Susan. Over a period of time, Susan stopped talking with Ron and the latter felt that something went wrong with former. Ron guessed that this might be the work of these two negative colleagues. He tried to meet Susan number of times to persuade about the situation so that she would not get trapped by these two negative women. Unfortunately, Susan maintained more distance with Ron.

Ron was basically a man with perseverance, persistence and passion. He was passionate about Susan and tried number of times to reach her. He looked for several conventional solutions to reach her, but failed such as personal visit to convince, email communication, through telephonic conversation. At last, Ron thought unconventionally for this problem and succeeded in reaching and persuading Susan. People give up addressing the problems after having tried one or two solutions. But the people with perseverance will find number of solutions for solving a single problem just because they never give up.

Both Ron and Susan reconnected with each other and gelled with each other. Later on, both expressed their love towards each other and finally married and lived happily. When love is true and strong, nobody can break the relations.

Ron as a Researcher:

Ron joined in a research organization for developing books related to HR subjects. When he joined the firm there was number of books already released from the shelves of the research organization. He found it difficult to create books as there should not be any overlap of books on the same topic. Therefore, he entered into the domain of leadership development where there were limited books released. After entering into the domain, he found that there were number of styles and theories on leadership. He explored fully and looked for areas where there were research gaps. He probed and researched in that domain and developed books on specialized styles and theories of leadership. What Ron did was to travel the unconventional path where no one traveled in the past thus becoming a trailblazer in the domain of leadership development.

Tools for Unconventional Thinking:

“It is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be always right by having no ideas at all.” - Edward de Bono

• You need to come outside your comfort zone to think unconventionally.
• To be creative, you need to follow a different route map to reach your office as it leads to thinking in a new direction.
• You may take any item and start thinking about its application and utility in multiple ways. Don’t be content if you get one or two ideas. Keep exploring in multiple ways. You will be amazed to know that you will get more creative over a period of time.
• You must be willing to take risks and tread the path to uncertainty and complexity.
• Open up your mind, be a good listener and be receptive to new ideas.
• No idea is too small to be ignored. You must learn the fact that an idea can change your life.
• Develop observation skills as it throws light on new things. Many people do not observe well resulting into ignorance. When we listen to the story of Sir Issac Newton sitting under an apple tree, he observed the apple falling on the ground due to gravity. And he suddenly thought of the Universal Law of Gravitation.
• Go to a serene place and start thinking, you will develop new ideas which you never imagined.

Individuals need not to be intelligent to think unconventionally. Out-of the box thinking requires thinking skills which even average individuals possess. When they can think in different directions they develop several permutations and combinations resulting into creative solutions.


“One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.” - A. A. Milne

In this cut throat competitive and complex world we need to be creative. We need to be different from others to stay ahead of times or else we will be lost out in the race. Get out of your conventional constraints. Remove your mental barriers and limitations. Fortune favors only the brave. The world is only meant for brave hearted not fainthearted. Therefore, dare to be different but don’t be indifferent.

Unconventional thinking is a skill that can be cultivated through observation, practice, reading, experience and training. It is not a talent that you should be born with. Therefore, develop this skill for all-round success.

The End


laxmi swetha said...

i really agreed with this statement

�Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.� - Hyman Rickover

one can only know this statement turely after realized themself
(like noble people they have reached great highest and peaks)

laxmi swetha said...

i think ron and susan is your life story(yours and your lovely wife)

laxmi swetha said...

the excellent livelyhood person who as followed leadership steps bravely and talented
------------mahatma gandhi

laxmi swetha said...

only the few people stayed all mis-nights working in to reach there goals (like a.r.rahaman,lincoln etc,.)

laxmi swetha said...

i feel (How to think out-of-the Box? )topic
in this susan and ron( you n your wife)