Remember “Thinking Out of the Box?”August 10, 2012 | By: Sean Murray
Remember when “thinking out of the box” was all the craze when it came to finding solutions and building business? Today most of us disregard thinking out of the box and much prefer being “creative” and “innovative.” We’re much more sophisticated in our approach. Thinking out of the box appears to be a metaphor that has outlived its use. In today’s business environment if you want to succeed you’re better off concentrating on coming up with creative, innovative solutions and products.
Not so fast say American and Chinese researchers who conducted some pretty interesting research into the psychology of creativity.
Here are a few examples of what they found out:
- An experiment was conducted where people were placed either in a five foot by five foot “box” or seated outside the box. The people outside the box were found to perform at higher levels when taking tests that required creative thinking.
- In another experiment it was found that being able to walk freely about stimulated more creative and effective thinking and problem solving than those who were instructed to walk in a straight line.
- In a particularly interesting experiment people were asked to put two things together. The group who received instructions to act out the metaphor of putting “two and two together” were more successful in developing different ways to approach the problem successfully.
Taking the Research Out of the Lab and into the Real World
It might appear that this research has very little, even nothing, to contribute to the growth and development of your small business. So let’s take a second look at the findings as they relate to your business and the workplace:
The first experiment found that most people work better in an open environment. How many of us and those who work for us do that work in square offices or cubicles? Not everyone would be comfortable working in a completely open space, but doing our best to provide work spaces that evoke creativity and innovative thinking would likely be good for business.
In the second experiment people were found to be better able to solve problems as well as think creatively when not required to walk in a straight line. Most small businesses owners see productive workers as workers sitting at their desk or station. For example, it could be that an employee might think better when solving a problem when speaking to a client or customer on the phone if standing and allowed to move about. This increase in innovative thinking may not apply to just physically walking in a straight line. Small business owners might want to consider examining policies and procedures to see if allowing employees to “walk more freely” might mean more effective and productive employees.
The last experiment where people were asked to put things together poses more of a challenge to apply in the real world your small business operates in. Perhaps the best way to look at this finding is to view to approaching what needs to be done in different ways to be an effective means to find the best way to do things. After all, what better metaphor is there for solving a problem correctly other than “put two and two together?”
The last thing these experiments demonstrate is that perhaps we’re wrong to believe “thinking out of the box” is a method to improve business that’s seen better days. As a matter-of-fact, thinking out of the box appears to be another term for creativity and innovation.
Guest Authored by Annie:
– Merchant Processing Resource
Sean Murray is the founder of deBanked, an 11-year veteran of the merchant cash advance industry, a casual Lending Club and Prosper note investor, the co-founder of Daily Funder, an alternative lending speaker, consultant, writer, and enthusiast. Connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on twitter.