I had three conversations today where the phrase ‘out of the box’ was mentioned, and mentioned more than once. The people I was talking to wanted to learn how to think out of the box, execute ideas that were out of the box, and encourage their teams to do the same. Later in the day as I walked through this office, I saw this cubicle…’the box’. It is where a great number of employees spend their days working, thinking, problem solving. Seeing the shape and size of the space, I wondered why we ‘wonder’ about the box when we sit in one everyday? HELLO – you sit in a box so of course it can be difficult to think, act, and encourage in an ‘out of the box’ mindset. Duh!?!
Is it just me or is that pretty obvious? I started me career in a cube farm, as a cube dweller, as a desk jockey…you get the idea. I spent decades in some form or fashion of a box. Some called it an office, some a desk, some even called it my ‘assigned space’. Not matter what you call it, it’s a box. Some have windows, some have doors, some (like this one) overlook the recycle bin. As leaders we put people in these spaces then act surprised when they can’t think any differently than they did when we put them in this box? If you sit in the same place everyday, looking at the same thing (like the recycle bin) and attend the same meetings…then why are you shocked that no one thinks unique thoughts or ideas.
GET OUT OF THE BOX…literally! Go outside, take a walk, visit a library, grab a cup of coffee and stand under a tree. Do ANYTHING other than sit in the same place thinking the same thoughts. The workplace is changing because we need I to, we need fresh, exciting, innovative ideas…that don’t come from a box. I know offices where people sit, or stand, or work in booth spaces, or rooms with no doors and only windows…creative ideas require creative spaces.
Do you ever feel like you need something new yet find yourself challenged to come up with it? Look around you…does the space you are in look like a box? Then run!!! Run away! Go outside and get some fresh air…think new thoughts, write them down, wiggle your toes in the grass…then maybe go back to the box to share your idea with others. If you need help coming up with ideas, grab a friend or colleague and take them outside. We are greatly impacted by the spaces we inhabit…so to think out of the box actually BE out of the box.