Friday, February 19, 2010

How to Think Outside the Box?

How to Think 'Outside of the Box'?

1. To re-educate yourself and the way you think, is almost a 'lifestyle change'. Basically, you are re-inventing the wheel and you are the wheel. Indications that it might be time to change your way of thinking are: 
- You are in a rut, you know you are in a rut, and no matter what you try, you fall back into the rut
- You can't come up with a solution to a nagging problem. Finally, someone else does and the answer was an incredibly obvious one...and it happens a lot

2. Learn the terms. Some of the terminology for modes of thinking outside of the box are:
- Reframing
- Lateral Thinking
- Process Improvements

3. Understand that, for a given problem, some people tend to come up with the more 'creative' solutions. The inability to do so does not reflect a person's intelligence. These are the ones that are more willing, or need, to push themselves out of their comfort zone to get the answers they need. The characteristics for that that think outside of the box are usually:
- One should be willing to take new perspectives to day-to-day work.
- One should be capable of thinking differently with an open mind, think about stuff with substance, and do things differently.
- One must focus on the value of finding new ideas and acting on them.
- One must strive to create value in newer ways.
- One must be capable of listening to, supporting, nurturing and respecting others when they come up with new ideas

The driving force behind a lot of those that consistently think outside of the box is frustration. They don't feel that 'enough' is being done...that the 'normal' way of thinking just isn't getting it done.

4. Learn what inhibits your ability to change?
- Negative attitude
- Fear of failure
- Executive stress
- Following rules
- Making assumptions
- Over-reliance of logic

5. Challenge assumptions - just because it has always been that way, doesn't mean that it has to continue to be that way.

6. Break free of routine. Doing the same thing, day in and day out, will dull the smartest person's mind. Change it up, occasionally

7. Brainstorm Brainstorming with vague keywords like "Coffee" can lead to interesting ideas while brainstorming.

How to Think Outside of the Box with 3 Creativity Excercises
Step 1. First you have to set aside some time for these exercises. Fifteen minutes might be fine, but it has to be an uninterrupted fifteen minutes. No danger of phone calls, no co-workers, no family.

Step 2. Creativity Exercise One: Look around you and pick a familiar object, and study it. Touch it, pick it up, smell it. Keep studying it until you have learned something about it that you didn't know before. Maybe it's the varied thickness of even the smoothest paper, or the fact that your cat only has four toes on each back foot.
This is what it means to think outside the box. The box is what you know.
Step 3.  Creativity Exercise Two: Pick up a book, close your eyes, open it to a random page, and stab your finger at the page. Look and see which word your finger landed on. If you don't like the word, you get one do-over. Now get a paper and pen or pencil, or type at your computer, and come up with 25 ways that word relates to your life. If that's too easy, make it 50.

When you do this exercise, you will come up with a few items right away. They are the obvious things you already know. When you get to the end of those, it will suddenly get very hard. That's the wall of the box. This is the place where you must press on. Think outside the box. When you get through that wall, those new ideas will come easier. You'll come up with things you never thought of before.

Step 4. Creativity Exercise Three: This one will take longer than your fifteen minutes, but that's part of the point. Now you have to learn to think outside the box all the time, not just within your isolated creativity exercise. This time you have to come up with a list of 100 things to consider before making a certain decision. What decision is up to you -- it can be who to vote for, or whether to buy a new TV, or even where you want to take your spouse for a romantic dinner. An important decision will probably be easier, but not necessarily.

You won't get this done in fifteen minutes, but get as far as you can. Then make it a hobby. Think about it each day. Try to come up with just one more consideration or reason when you're on your break, or in line at the store.

You're not going to get to 100 without getting silly or ridiculous here and there. And that's okay, because the wall of the box here is made up of your assumptions of what is right and appropriate. To think outside the box, you have to start considering things you thought were wrong.
Step 5. Once you get the hang of each of these creativity exercises, you can start applying them to your real projects and goals. Study an element of your project until you learn something new. Pick a random word and think deeply about how it relates to your goals. Make a hobby of thinking up new considerations to understanding the problems.

11 Ways to Think Outside the Box
1. Studying another industry
2. Learn about another Religion 
3. Take a class
4. Read a novel in an unfamiliar genre
5. Write a poem
6. Draw a picture
7. Turn it upside down
8. Work backwards
9. Ask a child for advice
10. Invite randomness
11. Take a shower

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