One of the most over used cliches in the management and leadership field is “outside the box thinking”. The reality is, most people are incapable of such innovative thinking and for that matter most would be better suited extending the boundaries rather than trying to think completely outside of the box.
When one thinks outside the box, the potential is there to “hit a home run” but there is also a great likelihood of failure or even worse, success that results in nothing. An example of success that results in nothing is if a person creates a new type of search engine but either no one ever hears of it, or even worse, people hear of it and hate it. Their innovative thinking might have created a new search engine but if no one is interested, nothing becomes of it.
The alternative is to extend the boundaries. Be willing to take chances, expand your current capabilities while going in the correct direction. An example would be instead of creating a new search engine, improving on the current one. Instead of creating a new business model, improving the current business model.
While true innovators are a vital part of our growth as a people, not everyone can be the innovator. Instead, the willingness to re-brand, redesign and come up with new uses has made many people and organizations extremely successful.
Examples of expanding the boundaries include:
* Post It Note – First created as a bookmark for Bibles but then expanded into what we currently think of Post It Notes
* Listerine – Over the years it has been used as a surgical antiseptic, mouthwash and cold remedy
* Play Doh – First invented as a wallpaper cleaner than branded as the fun clay we all played with as kids
* Internet – The Internet was first conceived of as a way to exchange information amongst some scientists and has been refitted into what it is today
There are many other examples of products, services, organizations etc which started as one thing and by having someone expand their boundaries, have morphed into something much different.
I do believe there is a need for the truly innovative thinkers but for most of us, expanding our boundaries will get us further along in the right direction
There are times when expanding our boundaries does require one to go against traditional thinking but that is the risk one takes to be successful in the long run.
Expanding the boundaries creates a larger opportunity than staying where you are and also helps to make sure you continue to grow in the future
Some people wont agree with this and think that either you think out of the box or you stagnate. They are certainly entitled to that view but I believe there is the third option of expanding the boundaries
Have a great day!