For decades, management consultants shouted at us to think outside the box, not realizing that we were all too timid to ask what happens next. Humans need models and Boston Consulting executives Luc de Brabandere (The Forgotten Half of Change) and Alan Iny are here to provide them. To do so, they invite readers to examine the corporate strategies of enterprises as diverse as Google and Bic; not-for-profits and many manufacturing enterprises. Fresh ways of conceptualizing new boxes to open new horizons.
Thinking in New Boxes: A New Paradigm for Business Creativityby Luc De Brabandere, Alan Iny
With an idea that seemed crazy at first, that bright executive, instead of seeing BIC as a pen company—a business in the PEN/b>/b>
When BIC, manufacturer of disposable ballpoint pens, wanted to grow, it looked for an idea beyond introducing new sizes and ink colors. Someone suggested lighters.
With an idea that seemed crazy at first, that bright executive, instead of seeing BIC as a pen company—a business in the PEN “box”—figured out that there was growth to be found in the DISPOSABLE “box.” And he was right. Now there are disposable BIC lighters, razors, even phones. The company opened its door to a host of opportunities.
IT INVENTED A NEW BOX.
Your business can, too. And simply thinking “out of the box” is not the answer. True ingenuity needs structure, hard analysis, and bold brainstorming. It needs to start
THINKING IN NEW BOXES
—a revolutionary process for sustainable creativity from two strategic innovation experts from The Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
To make sense of the world, we all rely on assumptions, on models—on what Luc de Brabandere and Alan Iny call “boxes.” If we are unaware of our boxes, they can blind us to risks and opportunities.
This innovative book challenges everything you thought you knew about business creativity by breaking creativity down into five steps:
• Doubt everything. Challenge your current perspectives.
• Probe the possible. Explore options around you.
• Diverge. Generate many new and exciting ideas, even if they seem absurd.
• Converge. Evaluate and select the ideas that will drive breakthrough results.
• Reevaluate. Relentlessly. No idea is a good idea forever. And did we mention Reevaluate? Relentlessly.
Creativity is paramount if you are to thrive in a time of accelerating change. Replete with practical and potent creativity tools, and featuring fascinating case studies from BIC to Ford to Trader Joe’s, Thinking in New Boxes will help you and your company overcome missed opportunities and stay ahead of the curve.
This book isn’t a simpleminded checklist. This is Thinking in New Boxes.
And it will be fun. (We promise.)
Praise for Thinking in New Boxes
“Excellent . . . While focusing on business creativity, the principles in this book apply anywhere change is needed and will be of interest to anyone seeking to reinvent herself.”—Blogcritics
“Thinking in New Boxes is a five-step guide that leverages the authors’ deep understanding of human nature to enable readers to overcome their limitations and both imagine and create their own futures. This book is a must-read for people living and working in today’s competitive environment.”—Ray O. Johnson, Ph.D., chief technology officer, Lockheed Martin
“Thinking In New Boxes discusses what I believe to be one of the fundamental shifts all companies/brands need to be thinking about: how to think creatively, in order to innovate and differentiate our brands. We need to thrive and lead in a world of accelerating change and this book challenges us to even greater creativity in our thinking. One of the best business books I’ve read in a long time.”—Jennifer Fox, CEO, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
“As impressive as teaching new tricks to old dogs, Thinking in New Boxes is both inspirational and practical—a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to sharpening one’s wits in order to harness creativity in the workplace.”—Peter Gelb, general manager, Metropolitan Opera
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Meet the Author
Luc de Brabandere is a fellow and a senior advisor in the Paris office of The Boston Consulting Group. He leads strategic seminars with boards, senior executives, and managers from a wide range of companies looking to develop new visions, new products and services, and long-term scenarios to prepare for the future. He is the author or co-author of nine books, including The Forgotten Half of Change: Achieving Greater Creativity Through Changes in Perception, and a regular columnist for various newspapers in France and Belgium. Prior to joining BCG, he was the general manager of the Brussels Stock Exchange.
Alan Iny is the senior specialist for creativity and scenarios at The Boston Consulting Group. He has trained thousands of executives and BCG consultants, runs a wide range of workshops across industries, and speaks around the world about coming up with product, service, and other ideas, developing a new strategic vision, and thinking creatively about the future. Before joining BCG in 2003, he earned an MBA from Columbia Business School and an honors BSc from McGill University in mathematics and management. Iny lives in New York with his wife and daughter.
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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.