Thinking in New Boxes: A New Paradigm for Business Creativity

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Overview

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.
 
LIGHTERS?
 
With an idea that seemed crazy at first, that bright executive, instead of seeing BIC as a pen company?a business in the...

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Overview

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.
 
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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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

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.

Publishers Weekly
Categorizing information is part of human nature, but in today’s rapidly evolving business climate, “pre-wired ways of thinking” can threaten an enterprise’s very survival. Boston Consulting Group executives Brabandare (The Forgotten Half of Change) and Iny suggest that thinking “outside the box” defies our natural tendencies and suggest that leaders, instead, should think “in the box,” but with a new mindset. In this entertaining and transformative work, the authors provide a framework and structure for creative thinking that even traditionalists can embrace. Through five steps—doubt everything, probe the possible, diverge, converge, and reevaluate relentlessly—they propose a sustainable creative process that will serve an organization in the long-term. Using examples from their research, consulting projects, and from major companies, the concepts come to life. Readers see how Generali Insurance, a 200-year-old Italian firm, used off-sites, interactive exercises, and brainteasers to create an Internet strategy, and how Netflix used reevaluation to reenvision and reinvigorate its business model. The book is both academically rigorous and highly accessible, with call-out graphics, charts, and optical illusions adding visual interest and illustrating concepts. Informative and practical, this is a must-read for anyone in a leadership position who dares to look at the world in new ways. Agent: Todd Shuster, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
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
 
“Offers excellent suggestions for thinking creatively and creating a sustainable work culture in the department and in one’s organization . . . a valuable tool for employees and managers of all institutions.”—Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship
 
An imaginative, proactive, and creative approach to problem solving that prospects for new ideas rather than trying to predict the future.”—Booklist

“Psychology has shown us that there’s no such thing as ‘thinking outside the box.’ The mind always thinks in boxes, big and small, and the key to creativity is finding and creating the right boxes to think with. This practical book draws out the implications of this research, and it is a joy to read. I loved the many real-world examples, drawn from the authors’ many years of consulting for BCG.”—Keith Sawyer, Ph.D., Author of Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity

“Brilliantly original and relentlessly practical, Thinking in New Boxes brings a truly fresh approach to the eternal question of how do I get more—and better—ideas. It not only challenges the readers to ‘think differently,’ but also shows them how. It is that rare business book actually worth reading cover to cover.”—Jim Andrew, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, Chairman Sustainability Board, EVP and Member of the Executive Committee, Royal Philips

“The pinnacle resource for any business or organization, Thinking in New Boxes is a straightforward roadmap on mastering the art of futurist leadership and understanding the intersections between creativity, innovation and re-invention. A well thought out approach and a hands-down, must read for anyone tirelessly in pursuit of achieving success in an ever evolving and rapidly changing global business ecosystem.”—Dr. Mehmood Khan, chief scientific officer, PepsiCo

“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

Kirkus Reviews
Boston Consulting Group advisers de Brabandere (The Forgotten Half of Change: Achieving Greater Creativity Through Changes in Perception, 2005, etc.) and Iny showcase their company's approach to helping organizations develop that next big transforming idea. The authors use the idea of boxes as the frame for their presentation--not the trope of thinking outside one but rather, how to organize the process to make new ones. The boxes are mental models that they contend people use to make sense of themselves and their world. The "new boxes" represent the idea of creating ways of thinking about oneself, one's organization and the world. The authors discuss a five-step process for bringing about transformation: doubt everything, probe the limits of possibility, encourage expression of different points of view, choose the options that seem to have the most potential for success, and re-evaluate relentlessly. They buttress their presentation with thought games and exercises and examples from the Boston Consulting Group's inventory of organizational techniques, which they have used with clients from around the world (e.g., the French postal service and glass manufacturer AGC Glass Europe). The authors focus on the case of the Bic company, which transformed itself from a one-box company--the maker of low-cost disposable plastic pens--into one that would be a "designer and maker of all manner of disposable, non-expensive plastic items"--e.g., cigarette lighters and razors. An array of brain-teasing games and ice-breaking–type techniques, which they call "warm ups" and "mini-world explorations," flesh out the approach. The authors provide some intriguing nuggets for thought, but the lack of discussion about the usual parameters of business success, like increasing sales, revenues, productivity and profit, is glaring.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812992953
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/10/2013
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 230,053
  • Product dimensions: 6.54 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 1.01 (d)

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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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • 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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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