Talk about overused expressions! This one has certainly run its course over the last 5-10 years.  As much as I tire of hearing the phrase “Think out of the box”, I have to wonder about the use of the “box” metaphor.

Maybe there is a physical reason? Back in the late 20th century, we found ourselves with the need to employ many knowledge workers.  So, in the interest of efficiently utilizing floor space and affording them the privacy they needed to do their work, we put them all in these 3′ x 5′ boxes that were 5′ high on three sides.  Of course, it is now the 21st century and we now know that rather than make them productive, it made them feel physically and emotionally isolated.What other kinds of “boxes” do we put ourselves into?

  • In our work projects, do we create a communication plan that actually inhibits rather than facilitates communications?
  • When we create a Risk Management Plan; do we make it so cumbersome that it actually introduces risk into the system?
  • What about change management? Cost Management?  There are many other examples to be sure.

Maybe it is time that instead of thinking out of the box, we strive to remove complexity from our systems and processes.  Get rid of the boxes that inhibit our thinking.  Eliminate the closed, complex systems that we have created.  It is time to simplify and collaborate with our colleagues to create great systems, products, and outcomes.

There will be no thinking “outside of the box”, just thinking.  Try a fresh look with a new set of eyes and a common sense approach.  You will be amazed at what can be accomplished.

When you think of management, what are the first terms that come to mind? Is it something like “command & control or hierarchy” or does it more resemble “discover, empower, analyze, collaborate, process & facilitate”.

If your thinking is more like the former, you may very well be in a 20th Century “box”.

The first train left for the 21st Century about 15 years ago.  There is another one leaving from here shortly.


Get on or be left behind!