Leaderly Quote: Don’t think outside the box. Think like there is no box.

If you’re stuck in a routine that’s limiting your creativity or you’re faced with a challenging business problem and need a fresh approach, you can think outside the box. Or even better, think like there is no box.

Here are five techniques to get you thinking way outside the box.

1. Look for random inspiration
Nadia Goodman, writing for Entrepreneur Magazine, suggests a quick search on Pinterest, Twitter or Google to uncover inspiration.

“…trigger your brain to make connections it normally wouldn’t make. To do that, look for inspiration that seems entirely unrelated to the problem.”

2. Study another industry
Dustin Wax of Lifehack.org suggests reading a publication from another industry:

“You might find that many of the problems people in other industries face are similar to the problems in your own, but that they’ve developed really quite different ways of dealing with them. Or you might well find new linkages between your own industry and the new one, linkages that might well be the basis of innovative partnerships in the future.”

3. Schedule a brainstorming session
In her article for American Express Open Forum, Vivian Wagner advises business leaders to carve out dedicated time for brainstorming.

“Sometimes the best way to encourage creativity is to schedule it into the day. This might seem counterintuitive, but the more creative thought that can be scheduled, the more likely it is to happen.”

4. Create a curiosity box
Writing for CNBC, Jeff Dyer, Hal Grierson, and Clayton M. Christensen (co-authors of The Innovator’s DNA) suggest creating a curiosity box filled with a weird assortment of interesting stuff.

“Start a collection of odd, interesting things (e.g., a slinky, model airplane, robot, and so on) and put them in a curiosity box or bag. Then, you can pull out unique items randomly when confronted with a problem or opportunity.”

5. Deny the existence of the box
Finally, you could refuse to believe that the box even exists. In How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life by Pat Williams and James Denney, Disney historian Jim Korkis is quoted as saying:

“Today you hear people talk about ‘thinking outside the box’. But Walt would say, ‘No! Don’t think outside the box! Once you say that, you’ve established that there is a box.’ Walt would refuse to accept the existence of the box.”

Sources
3 ways to think outside the box
11 ways to think outside the box
Get creative: 10 ways to think outside the box
An innovators guide: 5 ways to think outside the box
How to be like Walt

Jo Miller

A leading authority on women’s leadership, Jo Miller is a sought-after, dynamic, and engaging speaker, delivering more than 70 speaking presentations annually to audiences of up to 1,200 women. Her expertise lies in helping women lead, climb, and thrive in their corporate careers. Jo has traveled widely in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and teach workshops for women’s leadership conferences, women’s professional associations, and Fortune 1000 corporate women’s initiatives. Jo is CEO of leadership development, consulting and research firm Be Leaderly. Learn more about her speaking engagements at www.JoMiller.net and follow @Jo_Miller on Twitter.

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