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Thinking in New Boxes

A New Paradigm for Business Creativity

By Luc de Brabandere and Alan Iny
15-minute read
Audio available
Thinking in New Boxes: A New Paradigm for Business Creativity by Luc de Brabandere and Alan Iny

Thinking in New Boxes (2013) takes a deep look into the mind in order to create a clear understanding of the creative process. It gives the reader tools to uncover, manipulate and even create the “boxes” we use to organize information, shape our perception of the world and ultimately enable innovation.

  • Entrepreneurs, managers, engineers and politicians
  • Anyone who wants to enhance their creativity

Luc de Brabandere is a research fellow and senior advisor at The Boston Consulting Group in Paris. He has written and co-authored 12 books, including The Forgotten Half of Change.

Senior specialist for creativity and scenario planning at The Boston Consulting Group in New York, Alan Iny has an MBA from Columbia Business School.

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Thinking in New Boxes

A New Paradigm for Business Creativity

By Luc de Brabandere and Alan Iny
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
Thinking in New Boxes: A New Paradigm for Business Creativity by Luc de Brabandere and Alan Iny
Synopsis

Thinking in New Boxes (2013) takes a deep look into the mind in order to create a clear understanding of the creative process. It gives the reader tools to uncover, manipulate and even create the “boxes” we use to organize information, shape our perception of the world and ultimately enable innovation.

Key idea 1 of 9

Like it or not, you can’t escape thinking in boxes.

How many times have you been asked to “think outside the box”? While this sage advice has been around for almost half a century, it’s much easier said than done. In part, this is because of the way we think.

Mental models – or “boxes” – enable us to process and make sense of our complex reality.

Our mind is constantly developing simplified models of the world, sorting information into categories and patterns while also developing more sophisticated constructions like rules and paradigms. Without these models, we would lose our ability to think efficiently. In fact, it’s impossible to reason without boxes – that’s just how our brain works.

If you live in Germany, for example, you’ve learned to associate light beige cars with taxis, i.e., you’ve created a “box” for taxis. While you know that not all vehicles of that color will offer you a ride, you can nonetheless rule out numerous non-taxi cars in your search for a ride from point A to point B.

If you travel to New York City, however, you won’t linger in a boxless void for long. Almost instantly, you will develop a new box based on the new information from your environment, and thus keep a keen eye out for a yellow car if you need a lift.

See, there isn’t just “the box.” Rather, there are multiple boxes, all of which are shaped by your identity – and your identity’s like a series of boxes, too. You can be comprised of an infinite combination of identities – for example, an IT specialist, an Australian, a woman and so on – and thus there is an infinite number of boxes outside your specific worldview.

Boxes are the buttress for our capacity to think; you can’t avoid them. Once you step out of one, you’ll simply find yourself in another.

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