About Boxes

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Time to Read: Just over 2 minutes

Time to Listen : 2 mins

Scene: Innovation Session

Present: You, and others

Outcome: As many new ideas as you can

What’s the first thing to do?

Talk about, define and build…

A Box

And then each idea is either “inside” or “outside” the box

I was speaking at a junior school, and a young girl came up with a fantastic idea, I said:

“That is really thinking outside of the box.”

To which she replied:

“What box?”

Magic – pure magic

If you want to be truly, authentically imaginative, as you, as a team or a project, leave the box behind:

Because…who is to judge whether an idea is inside or outside “the box,” when everyone has unique definitions of “boxes?” And “a box” sets an immediate limitation (and a pointless one) and most important of all, it’s the stuff inside the box that I believe organisations need to be addressing – the basics…

However, what’s “in” or “out” doesn’t matter

What matters…is what matters

and what you are going to do about what matters – what, when and how

Boxes are for storage, for theatres and for having great fun.

Not for transforming your organisation, project, or life.


  • Claire Kidd

    Ah…out of the mouth of babes…don’t you just love kids for saying the ‘blindingly’ honest truth, (I do). Never mind by the time they have left school fully labelled and conformist (and now thinking in a box)…the best and most intellectually able will go on to lead our organisations…oh.

    Perhaps we should be looking to those who rejected the box…

  • Dan Jones

    Absolutely right, boxes, no boxes, cartons even, it really doesn’t matter.
    Kids are great at getting to the crux of the matter.

  • Frances Granger

    The magic and innocence of youth can often tell a much better story and gives us food for thought.
    Why do we come up with processes and sayings that are meaningless and are shown to be so by infants? Mad!

  • Ethan Ross

    I dislike that expression thinking outside the box.
    As if that being creative isn’t in a box, when actually, you can think inside it and still come up with some good ideas.
    The important thing is the thinking, wherever that may be.

  • Naked Leader

    Recevied by email…

    My favourite cartoon along these lines has a team sat around a table failing to agree on the specification for the box!

  • Darren Roach

    Amazing how a post can prompt such a diverse reaction!

    • David Taylor

      Thank you for all of the varied comments. I have been wanting to do something about “out of the box” for awhile, and the two triggers were the school “what box” comment (which completely floored me at the time)and the discovery of that hilarious video (click on ‘having great fun’). The ultimate irony is the sure fire way to kill ideas is to restrict them in any way e.g. “I only want ideas that are out of the box.” David

  • Sally Hill

    All this talk of boxes, and I’m moving house!

  • Graham Stagg

    Me last week!

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