How can we think outside the box today?

How can we think outside the box today?

Edward de Bono

It’s generally accepted that Edward de Bono is one of the pioneers of “Brain Training” and in 1967 he invented the world famous Lateral Thinking technique. It revolutionised the concept of thinking as a separate skill.

Indeed Forbes Magazine said

If you haven’t heard of Edward de Bono or of Lateral Thinking, perhaps you have been too busy thinking in conventional ways.

If however, you’ve always questioned the status quo, never taken no or can’t do for answer it’s likely you’ve never been restricted by comfort zones or boxed thinking. But as the vast majority of people are we need to understand what they see and why they’re locked.

Lateral Thinking – what is it?

With logic, you start out with certain ingredients just as in playing chess you start out with given pieces. Each piece has a clearly defined role and a value. But unlike on chess, in most real-life situations the pieces are not given, we just assume they are there. Most people assume certain perceptions, certain concepts, and certain boundaries. Lateral thinking is concerned not with playing with the existing pieces but with seeking to change those very pieces. Lateral thinking is concerned with the perception part of thinking. This is where we organise the external world into the pieces we can then ‘process’.

Comfort zone

Layered onto this we also need to appreciate that for most there is a quite clearly defined Comfort Zone which is a psychological state in which things feel familiar. A place where we like to stay and perform with little or no anxiety or stress.  A comfort zone to a person is where they are at ease and in control of their environment.

Dr Brene Brown describes it as

“Where our uncertainty, scarcity and vulnerability are minimized—where we believe we’ll have access to enough love, food, talent, time, admiration. Where we feel we have some control.”

In essence, it’s where people feel safe. But it’s an imaginary place as it only exists in our mind, although it might be similar to many others that are around us.

The following may help further although all may not be common in everyone:


How to break outside the box?

You can try training but regular readers will now be aware of the problems of knowledge training and that results are small and rarely sustainable.

Change the culture and encourage people to come out of their comfort zone is an obvious answer but as most HR leaders will know this elephant in the room is hard to budge. It’s also assumed to be expensive and will take time.

But there is a way that’s guaranteed to budge it once and for all and may not take as long as you expect.

Develop Reality-Driven Leaders and focus on reducing Behavioural Waste™ will always work –

If that’s too much to take in you can always look at another sector. One we all frequent and will revisit based solely on our memories or recommendation of a friend. I’m talking about restaurants, where every meal delivered to each guest is of a standard or the quality of the house. It’s why you go back, you perceive value for money.  And the good news here is that there are reality TV programmes about it.

Ramsey’s Kitchen nightmares highlight the problems on what is a simple business – good food and good service at a price we will buy.

Here’s a 5-minute insight

And the full 45 minutes

I wonder if like me you laughed at the obvious that a professional consultant points out? They are classics of manufactured comfort zones and boxes that are killing what is a simple to understand business.

Next steps

If this resonates with you the good news is you can fix it. So you can choose:

  1. Do nothing and hope it fixes itself
  2. Take the examples and run with them
  3. Have a discussion on Reality-Driven Leadership

As ever, the choice is yours.

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