Teaching Yourself to Think Outside the Box
Some people are big picture thinkers, and some people are not automatically able to see outside of the box they created for themselves. Fortunately, there are tricks to help you learn to think outside of the box and see the big picture so that you can approach any problem from an entirely new perspective.
Identify the Problem
What problem are you trying to solve that needs a solution? Are you trying to create a new product for your audience? Are you trying to create a new service? What is the problem?
Define How the Problem Developed
If you can define how the problem developed, you’ll come that much closer to potential solutions. Make sure you understand the steps it took to create the issue.
Set Parameters to Focus Your Solutions
Yes, that’s right; you want to define what a solution really means. For instance, should it be legal, ethical, and fit within a particular budget?
Seek Inspiration Outside Your Normal Walls
If you’re stuck, it’s important to get outside of the normal way you work. If you normally work inside a stuffy office, go outside. Even changing position can help you think differently. Perhaps you also need to be open up to new people to help you come up with more solutions.
Define Solutions to the Problem
Start inside the box. List the typical solutions to the problem. If they work fine you really don’t need to go much further. However, if they don’t really work well for yourself or your audience, it’s time to move outside the box.
Get a New Perspective
Even for solutions that seem unlikely, leave nothing off the table. This is brainstorm time. Start with the obvious, then work through more solutions based on how the problem began. Remember right now you want quantity, not quality. The more ideas you can generate now, the better. You’ll whittle them down later.
Looking at problems by tearing them apart, and looking at both traditional and non-traditional approaches to a problem, is the key to learning how to think outside the box. You don’t want to forget the box; sometimes the best solutions lie in the box. Take the wheel, for example. The wheel still works great just as it is. Yes, some innovation has taken place in terms of material but a wheel is and always will be round.
To get outside the box to find solutions you may not have considered, it is important to never dismiss any solution out of hand before you have the chance to think it through from all angles. You never know where something might lead you. It’s important to let go of judgment while you brainstorm ideas. Only place judgment on ideas after brainstorming is finished and only within the parameters you’ve set.
Having never done something before is not a good enough reason not to try. Just because something has never been done before, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Someday, your new outside-the-box idea may become an inside the box norm. Like traveling in an airplane. Think about that for a moment.