I’ve been doing some thinking over the past few days about the phrase “Think outside the box.” What does that really mean? Is that a buzz phrase or do people actually understand what that means? I believe that it is buzz phrase and when people say that they are really saying that they want to think in a different way. That means, slow down, look at the big picture, and look for the not so obvious answer. The problem is that many people want to find the easy answer, the easy answer is seldom the correct answer
In this month’s Harvard Business Review is an article called Linear Thinking In A Non-Linear World”, in the article talks about slowing down and thinking things through. There is a great question in the article “Which scenario do you consume more pizza? A 12 inch pizza or two 8 inch pizzas. The obvious answer is two 8 inch pizzas, but that is wrong. The area of a circle is π(r2) that means that the correct answer is the 12 inch pizza. (Harvard Business Review, May-June 2017, p 131-139)
There are alternative ways to look at every item. A lot of it comes from your background, your experiences, and your perspectives. So how do you get to the alternative answers? Think thru the problem. Ask questions, research the problem, find the viable alternatives. The more questions that you ask, the clearer things appear or the more alternatives can find. In looking at the HBR problem, most people don’t remember the formula for the area of a circle so you can figure that out but by asking questions or doing a little reasearch, you can find the problem.
The next time you come across a problem, don’t jump to an immediate conclusion. Stop, think thru the problem, ask questions, research, and then come up with the right answer.