“Think outside the box.” How many times have you heard (or said) this catchphrase? And what “box” are you referring to? The one that holds your policies and procedures, and you want people to ignore them?

What do we really mean when we say that? Often times I hear someone who wants more creativity and innovation, often delivered in a meeting and putting people on the spot to do that right now. I suggest we reframe our approach to boxes, removing them altogether so the parameters aren’t set in our minds. For instance, when we are working on a project and spend the first few minutes updating on the status/progress, and then jump into – “now let’s think outside the box,” – it’s very difficult to switch our brains to free space/free thinking. Instead, open the meeting with something bigger – “What have you been thinking about with respect to this project?” or “Where do you see opportunity when you think about this project?” Now we never created a box to get out of.  Nothing to break down before we build up. Give it a go and share what you learn.