For decades, organizational leaders striving to develop new strategies, innovative products or services, or fresh business models have been instructed in the same conventional way: try to think outside the box. The problem is that doing this is often enormously difficult. No matter how creative, open minded, and forward thinking people may strive to be, they frequently do not know which mental framework—which box—they’re supposed to think outside of. And they don’t know where to look for new ideas in the undefined space beyond that box.
In a paradigm-busting book entitled Thinking in New Boxes, BCG puts forth a powerful five-step approach to sparking big ideas and achieving competitive advantage. Thinking in New Boxes challenges conventional wisdom by asserting that thinking outside the box is not only challenging—it’s insufficient. Instead, we have developed a whole new method for stretching peoples’ perspectives and coming up with new ideas—or changing the way we look at existing ones.
We have observed that a key distinction between winners and losers, leaders and followers, those who soar in the face of change and those who are defeated by it comes down to a form of strategic creativity that we refer to as “thinking in new boxes.” This process marries deductive and inductive thinking, pragmatic analysis with the free-flowing generation of ideas. When people think in new boxes, they identify and then challenge some of their existing assumptions and constraints—"the way we do things around here"—which leads them to new ways of embracing complexity, navigating uncertainty, and preparing for the disruptions that inevitably await them.
Across all industries—from health care to financial institutions, consumer products to energy—the creative process we describe in this book can significantly help shift and revitalize how decision makers and all the stakeholders within an organization perceive the world. It can empower them to see fresh angles, pursue risky and exciting new vistas, and develop novel solutions to the many challenges ahead of them. It can help them generate ideas and make decisions regarding investments, cost cutting, even their own careers.
Thinking in New Boxes can help people rediscover the full power of thinking in all its many dimensions. It can help them come together to imagine, shape, and then release into the world new designs, strategies, and visions that may lead to the next Post-it note or the next iPad. It gives them the tools and the know-how to dream up multiple scenarios in which to do business, and thus better prepare for whatever the future holds. And it offers a unique approach to learning how to ask the right questions in order to open up the most promising doors to creativity, innovation, and opportunity.
The book was released by Random House on September 10, 2013, in hardcover and e-book formats, and as an audiobook read by coauthor Alan Iny. Learn more here.