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Outside-The-Box Vs. Inside-the-box

We hear all the time that we need to “think outside of the box.” But what does that mean, and is it really beneficial?

An organization normally sets its business objectives for the year, develops strategies aligned to those objectives, and tactically implements them according to the plan. Then one day, someone introduces an idea, and if this new idea is outside the scope of any tactical plan and you cannot directly tie it to a current business objective, then the idea is “outside the box.”

Thinking “outside the box,” a concept that we have always assumed connotes creative brainstorming is actually destructive in the business world because it brings in randomness, confusion and miscommunication.

Bringing in an idea from left field can often times throw a wrench in your well-oiled company. New ideas that don’t contribute to the outline business strategy can cause unnecessary confusion for employees and management, and can take away from the business objectives and overall company goal.

Don’t get me wrong, outside- the-box ideas are not altogether bad, but they should be considered at the appropriate time and place. If you have employees put their outside-the-box ideas on a shelf and save it for a designated planning session, your whole team can be more productive. Imagine having your whole team prepare and come to the table with outside-the-box ideas in their respective fields. What is distracting during the normal course of business tends to be exciting and motivating during these preplanned creative sessions.

On the other hand, there are inside-the-box ideas, and they are entirely different. Instead, these inside-the-box ideas add to the efficiency of the current business plan or strategy. Inside-the-box ideas focus on finding a better way to get the job done, increasing productivity, and overall improvement, and these ideas are ideas that should be encouraged and celebrated.

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