At this time of year, when my children see a box arrive they immediately question if it is another present for them. They are very disappointed when the Amazon.com box contains breakfast cereal or dish detergent. They are definitely thinking inside the box. If the box is large enough, they will eventually start playing in it and imagine it is not a box.
Childrens’ imagination has no bounds. Adults need to make conscious efforts to think outside the box as this can lead to innovation and creative solutions. This is often difficult due to over familiarity or lack of perspective. Two of my recent engagements illustrate the challenge:
- I was asked to evaluate alternatives, including the elimination or complete reorganization of a division, for senior executive management without engaging the existing division team. This provided an independent review of all the options, without distracting the division, enabling them to remain focused on their work.
- After determining potential future product directions, I was able to identify several software infrastructure “hooks” that could be implemented at minimal or zero cost to enable value added services. By including these hooks in new systems now and in updates for current products, the company could add new products quicker once the full strategy was determined. My outsider’s perspective and industry knowledge was essential as the existing marketing and development teams were too focused on current product challenges to plan far enough ahead.
There are many examples of creative out of the box thinking. Who would have thought the world’s largest bookseller Amazon, would also sell breakfast cereal on a discounted subscription basis? Today you may not have thought it strange when I mentioned this in the first paragraph. But I bet they would have involuntarily committed Jeff Bezos had he discussed this when he started Amazon in 1994. By constantly trying different approaches, Amazon is able to find and fine-tune profitable business models that allows them to be much more than just an on-line bookstore.
In addition to enjoyable time with friends and family, hopefully the holidays have provided you a change of routine permitting a fresh perspective and new insights.
We would like to thank all of Feldman Engineering’s clients and partners for a successful 2011. I look forward to the pleasure of working with you again this year to solve your business challenges and to think outside the box.
A happy and healthy New Years to all. May 2012 be a very successful year!