For readers of 'Made to Stick' and 'Blue Ocean Strategy', two leading consultants from The Boston Consulting Group present a new model of practical creativity that challenges readers to think about their customers, their goals and their businesses in exhilarating new ways.
In a constantly evolving business landscape, companies must employ creative and adaptable solutions to remain competitive and successful. It is no longer enough to "think outside the box". To be truly innovative, corporations must be able to tap into their vast personal reserves of creativity to develop strategies and models that will work in a variety of new environments--and then implement them. Brabandere and Iny use their years of experience with one of the leading consulting firms in the world, BCG, to give readers concrete and actionable tools for producing valuable results through practical creativity. Both intellectually sophisticated and relentlessly engaging, Thinking In New Boxes allows CEOs, managers, entrepreneurs, and small business owners to create new models that are not only original, but also timely, implementable, and within reach.
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.
"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
" 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
For readers of Made to Stick and Blue Ocean Strategy , two leading consultants from The Boston Consulting Group present a new model of practical creativity that challenges readers to think about their customers, their goals and their businesses in exhilarating new ways. What sets this book apart from all other business books is the framework the experts at BCG provide to create, think in, and continuously update new boxes, rather than thinking "outside the box."
9780812992953 excerpt de Brabandere / THINKING IN NEW BOXES one New Boxes for a New Reality Let''s start with an easy question: How many colors are there in a rainbow? Would you say five? Seven? Ten? At some point in your schooling, you were probably told that a rainbow has a fixed number of colors. The common explanation is that the human eye sees just seven colors--red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet--and hence many of us were told as children that there are seven colors in the rainbow. But that''s not quite correct--a rainbow is a continuous spectrum of colors, at least according to our models of physics. To cope with complicated ideas such as this (in this case, an infinite number of colors) the mind simplifies, placing the physical reality in a more conveniently sized, manageable "box." Boxes can include, among many other things, ideas, approaches, philosophies, tactics, theories, patterns, and strategies. Every human idea can be expressed and/or interpreted through numerous mental models, or "boxes." Your brain constantly uses boxes--and cannot do otherwise--to make it possible for you to cope with and process reality. The world confronts us with an infinite array of people, places, and objects; we use patterns and systems to simplify these, and categories to organize them. We all have boxes of many different sizes. The smallest type of box would be a grouping of like things--such as "the consumer electronics companies" or "the set of coffee shops in my neighborhood." Examples of slightly bigger boxes include stereotypes or judgments--"our customers love chocolate" or "basketball players are tall." A paradigm is a box so big (for example, "democracy" or "freedom") that sometimes you don''t even realize it''s still just a box, like being on a boat so big you forget you''re at sea. Boxes of other sizes include what we commonly call structures, hypotheses, frameworks, mindsets, frames of reference, and so on. All of these various boxes help make the world more manageable. Every one of us constantly takes the broad variety of experiences we have and information we observe and reduces them to segments or categories, "boxes" with which we try to make sense of things. But even the most seemingly obvious and widely shared boxes should not be confused with reality: Accounting is always just a snapshot of the past, not an accurate representation of the present; dividing up your customers into market segments is an often-useful distortion that relies upon artificial distinctions and generalizations. In addition to being simplified, a box is your mind''s fuzzy representation of reality. You might have a seemingly solid image of the Google logo in your mind, of primary colors for the six letters. Could you say with certainty which colors appear twice? Your boxes help you make sense of things, but only up to a certain level of detail (in this case, enough to avoid confusion with some other company''s logo), and only for a certain period of time. Every box is subject to revision, refinement, and even replacement. For example, suppose you''re eating dinner in a restaurant and a gray-haired man who appears to be in his mid-fifties, dressed in a well-tailored suit, walks in, accompanied by a much younger woman dressed in jeans and a T-shirt. They look vaguely alike, and you immediately decide that they are father and daughter. When they sit down at the table next to you, however, you notice telling attributes, and slowly learn more about them. Perhaps the man presents the young woman with an investment opportunity, and you decide she is a wealthy client of his. Perhaps they hold hands and you decide they are spouses. Or they''re trying to distract you while their colleague steals your wallet. Regardless, you cannot avoid settling on an explanation; you cannot avoid building boxes. The same kind of serial "deciding" occurs all the time in business. Suppose your CEO appoints a new CFO in a surprise announcement that thanks the former CFO for her service and praises her desire to spend more time with her family. You may take this announcement at face value, or you may "decide" there was too much tension between the departing CFO and the CEO. Perhaps later at the water cooler you hear rumors of fiscal impropriety, and a few days later new expense reimbursement regulations are announced, and so you decide the old CFO was padding her expense account. Or perhaps you are told of an emergency board meeting where the CEO was apparently fighting for his job and hence you decide that the CFO was offered up by him as a sacrifice. When we see news of an airplane crash in Africa or a merger between two companies, we immediately come up with a rationale for how and why these events happen. And as all of these examples show, your interpretation of reality evolves as you gather data. Much as scientists develop working hypotheses that, after investigation, they modify into more definitive "theories," you reshape and refine your boxes based on the new information. When refinement is not enough, for example if some fresh observation is completely incompatible with your existing boxes, a fundamentally different box may be required. Moreover, relying upon just one box is generally not sufficient. The complexity of the world requires you to constantly juggle multiple theories, models, and strategies. As your "box" describing the couple in the restaurant evolved, you also used and updated other mental models, such as whether the soup was any good, which fork to use for dessert, whether to respond to the waitress honestly when she asked how your meal was, and how much to tip her. The key difference to be aware of is between the multifaceted and difficult-to-understand world in front of you and the ways you perceive, interpret, and simplify it within you. Or as we like to put it, people use mental models or boxes within them (such as concepts and stereotypes) to handle the complex, continuously changing, often chaotic reality in front of them. To be more creative, and to survive in a world of accelerating change and challenge, we believe you must do more than simply think "outside the box." Rather, you must learn to think in new boxes, which means deliberately (not just subconsciously) creating a range of fresh mental models, and methodically exploring and prioritizing them. You Can''t Think Without Boxes, So Don''t Even Try You can''t think or make decisions, let alone create new ideas (or recognize a good idea when you see one), without using a range of mental models to simplify things. Most of the time, thinking includes a process of classification: Your mind is confronted with reality--a multiplicity of stimuli, elements, and events. To make sense of all these disparate inputs, your mind either relies on preexisting categories that it has already created or, if none of those categories fits the present reality, it generates new ones. You might think of the mind as a giant cupboard, with compartments and drawers, a place to tidy up the messiness of reality, to sort it all into a much more comprehensible and manageable set of ideas. Each of us creates order by sorting; things with some shared characteristics are put together. Nobody can deal with the many complicated aspects of real life without first placing things in such boxes, the raw materials of human thinking and creativity. When you say "my customers" as a salesperson, or "my students" as a teacher, you''re using a box to categorize, or to visualize a couple of individual customers or students in your head. In contrast to saying "my children" or "my office," where you can usually be referring to the real thing, the set of customers or students is large enough to make a simplification necessary. Consider the first pages of the Judeo-Christian Bible. When God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden, God told him he had to be a master of the other animals: "God said, ''Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'' "1 What was the first thing Adam did in order to establish his mastery? He gave names to each species of animal. In essence, Adam was saying: I am master of the lion because I told him, "You are a lion." And I am master of the bear because I told him, "You are a bear." Names--and words--don''t exist anywhere but in our minds, yet people need them in order to deal with reality. By giving names to animals, objects, and the other facets of reality, we draw distinctions, make judgments, create links between things, foster order, exercise control, and, most important, put things into easier-to-understand categories. Indeed, one of the most primitive forms of a box, and perhaps one of the most important inventions of all time, is the category. When Aris