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
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
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.