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Thinking in New Boxes: A New Paradigm for Business Creativity

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  • Posted October 30, 2013

    Your company makes buggy whips. It has always made buggy whips.

    Your company makes buggy whips. It has always made buggy whips. Sales have been flat for the past several quarters. As CEO, what, if anything, are you going to do about it?

    First of all, doubt everything about your company (but not to the point of paralysis). Put everything about your company, and your view of the market, under the microscope. Don't assume that anything about your company will stay the same in the future. Next, you need to look around and consider your options. It's
    normal to keep your minds in the box labeled "buggy whips" (thinking that the only allowable options are those that involve buggy whips). Get that thought out of your head right now.

    Set up an off-site meeting of at least half a day with your senior management, or your entire company, if it is small enough, to brainstorm ideas for the future of your company. As a bit of mental exercise, describe your company's product without using the five most obvious words. Quantity of ideas is more important than quality. Do not denigrate any idea, no matter how strange it sounds. With a little tweaking, what sounds like a terrible idea could become your company's economic lifesaver.

    A later session, preferably with a different group of people, is dedicated to converging those many ideas into something more manageable. Now you can cross out the ideas that are just not feasible for your company, and combine similar ideas. Get down to a small number (three or four) new ideas or concepts or potential new products that your company can put into practice; then, do it. No idea will work forever, so constantly re-evaluate your new ideas, and don't be afraid to replace an old idea with a new one.

    This may seem like a rather dry and boring concept, but the authors do a very good job at making it not so dry and boring. It's interesting, and it has a lot to say to companies of any size.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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