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What Exactly Does “Thinking Outside The Box” Even Mean?

You’ve probably heard this worn-out advice across books, speakers, and even from your friends, and it’s “thinking outside the box.” And while we all like to assume that we understand what it means, more often than not, we actually have no clue on where to begin. For starters, what type of box is the advice trying to tell you about, and why does it exist to imprison your level of imagination?

As a result, we naturally adopt this advice ourselves and pass it on to more unsuspecting victims who also don’t know what to do with it. Thus, causing widespread misinformation and people falling into the norm of accepting without understanding. So to end this monotonous cycle, let’s break down what “thinking outside the box” really means.

Exploring Concepts More Critically

At its core, and basing it from a more academic point of view, “thinking outside the box,” dominantly refers to the practice of critical thinking and exploring concepts more critically. It encourages an individual to exhaust all other options available to them, exploring their effects, benefits, and consequences, before fully committing to a plan. Basically, the quote links directly to another common advice, which is making smart decisions.

It’s Applicable Almost Everywhere

With definition and explanation out of the way, we also need to understand that this type of advice is multi-faceted. And because it’s applicable almost everywhere, there’s no situation or challenge where you can’t bring up the concept of outside-the-box thinking. So for the sake of awareness and knowledge, let us also explore some examples where thinking outside the box plays an essential role.

#1 Reinventing Your Business Model

The world of business can be harsh and unforgiving, and any well-established entrepreneur can attest that having an edge in your industry is ultimately the deciding factor in success and profitability. As such, thinking outside the box is a necessary process that business owners encounter on a daily basis. Teams are encouraged and often required to innovate and place themselves in the shoes of customers.

So whether a business offers deluxe jewelry retouching services or operates tech manufacturing and warehousing, critical thinking will always be a mainstay. And with the vastly changing business environment, reinventing their business models has now become a top priority.

#2 Overcoming State-Policy Challenges

State and local governments constantly face an uphill battle of state-policy challenges, and most of the time, there is no clear black-and-white answer that can appease the need of the public. And because fundamental fiscal policy challenges operate within a gray area, outside-the-box solutions are a necessary step forward to achieve the greater good. In fact, here we see the importance of understanding different perspectives ranging from private companies, public interest, and general welfare.

So in the case of governance, we can evidently see the implication and inherent need for thinking outside the box because there is often no clear-cut answer to solve a wide array of problems. Everything comes at an opportunity cost, and all decisions have their own drawbacks and shortcomings.

#3 Finishing Your Essay

Last but not least, even finishing your essay is another task that heavily depends on thinking outside the box so that you can come up with a compelling and comprehensive output. And whether you’re writing about microaggressions for your English class or working on a scientific paper for Biology, any written work requires you to exhaust all possible references and research to your heart’s content.

Thus, this proves that even at the basic level and trivial matters, thinking outside the box plays an essential role and is most likely happening to you right now. The only problem is that it goes unnoticed, and a lot of us put too much weight on this advice when we’re very well-versed in going above and beyond.

So How Do You Do It?

Frankly, the honest answer to that question is, it depends. “Thinking outside the box” comes in many forms, and from a general point of view, all it’s telling us is to be critical thinkers. But hey, the practice of critical thinking isn’t bad advice, and maybe all you needed was that simple reminder to be more open-minded.

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