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Management Tips:

Out-of-the-box thinking for managerial excellence

Dr. K. Kuhathasan CEO: Cenlead

Thinking is the most fundamental skills for managers. Managers have to think to develop business plans, take initiatives, solve problems, take decisions, expand existing business, open up new markets and new opportunities for business development.

Thinking is a skill that can be learned, practised and developed. Managers will be able to benefit from its practice and application.

By thinking and by developing more time to think, you will be able to develop a better sense of your priorities and what you need to focus on. Managers have to think in different ways at different situations.

* Strategic thinking or Visionary thinking is the ability to plan for a long term while maximising performance in the short term.

* Critical thinking involves evaluation of a situation and choosing a path of investigation that leads to finding the best possible solution.

* Vertical thinking involves analytical application. It enables you to choose what is to be considered.

* Lateral thinking is provocative. It is an open ended procedure. Recommendations and suggestions are placed for better outcome.

* Creative thinking involves brining into action an ‘idea’, a novel feature, a new set of proposals for consideration.

* Innovative thinkinginvolves how to implement a creative idea, a novel feature, or a new set of proposals.

Out of the box thinking involves application of all the above six thinking habits and thinking beyond all the limitations and hurdles. It involves thinking beyond barriers, boundaries, setbacks, adverse circumstances and difficulties.

Out of the box thinking also involves thinking beyond organisational culture, traditions, past experiences precedence, procedures and guidelines.

Out of the box thinking is usually explained by the following exercise. Here is a an example of how some problems can be solved by going beyond habitual thinking and ordinary assumptions.

Below is a grid of nine dots represented by A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I. Try to connect all of them using just four straight lines and without lifting your pen or pencil from the starting point.

It is impossible to connect all the dots by four straight lines within the box. Think further. Is it possible to connect all the dots by going out - of-the-box? Thing and try.

Yes, it is possible! Expand your thinking! Try to go beyond the box! First connect dots C.B and A and go further upwards beyond the box. From the upward point, now try to connect dots D and H and go beyond the box. From that point, connect dots I, F and C. Now connect dots C, E and G. The exercise is complete. You have gone out of the box and has completed the exercise.

This is out - of - the - box thinking (Fig II). To solve any problem, you have to go beyond your own limitations. You have to widen your imagination. You have to break your own past mindset. You have to think deeper and deeper!. Creative thinking occurs when we get out of the box and think outside of it. Outside the - box thinking will throw open unlimited possibilities and innovative solutions to our problems, the traditional in - the - box thinking, blocks your creative powers.

Creativity will occur when you are receptive to new ideas, try different things and consciously look for better alternatives.

The ability to think creatively is reinforced when you believe” you can do it”. This belief stimulates the mind to find a way of doing it. Creativity is not some magic or mystical talent possessed by a few. It is not the monopoly of some. All of us have the potential to be creative. Some people are more creative than others.

Creativity develops by practising thinking and being willing to try out different things. It is said that there are three kinds of people. “Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened.” People who make things happen are those who think big, possess a clear vision and move with great thinking and speed to accomplish their goals. Unconventional breakthrough ideas are the cornerstones of success.

Creative people are always ready to sharpen their competence,add value, design opportunities, and work towards excellence. They are proactive thinkers rather than reactive followers.

They make use of the information, their hunches and gut feelings, and take an optimistic and logical view of things to look for feasible alternatives. They are inspired and will challenge their own capabilities, question the obvious, brainstorm, provoke and explore their thought processes to evolve incredible approaches, alternatives and solutions to a problem.

To quote the guru of lateral thinking Edward de Bono, “There is nothing more marvellous than thinking a new idea. There is nothing more magnificent than seeing a new idea working.

“There is never really a shortage of resources or money; it is the shortage of ideas that exists.”

Thinking is the highest form of activity humans are capable of performing, yet few people really think.

Most of the time you are simply exercising the mental faculty known as “recall” by which you replay your past experiences, much like a tape, in the form of mental pictures or images that have been previously recorded in you subconscious mind. New recordings are seldom done.

Henry Ford (1863-1947), the famous American industrialist, commented on the subject in this way: “Thinking is the hardest work which is the probable reason why so few engage in it.” The ability to think out-of-the-box, think of new ways, new approaches, alternative suggestions and proposals is a unique faculty of the human species. Application of this faculty will uplift you above others.



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