Seeking new insights into who your markets and customers are, what they really want, and how best to reach and engage them requires thinking in new boxes. A “box,” in our definition, is a belief, concept, working hypothesis, or other mental model you use to interpret the world in front of you. True creativity requires you and your company to constantly doubt your current boxes and eventually replace them with new ones. In an ever-changing environment, no idea is good forever.
The brain’s hardwiring will tend to lead you and your organization to hold on to tired assumptions and constraints. You’re likely to be seduced by a natural bias toward ideas that confirm, rather than contradict, your current way of seeing things.
Henry Ford famously failed to heed even obvious market signals (and insistent colleagues) suggesting that customers were evolving to want different styles and colors after the phenomenal success of his simple all-black Model T. In the 1970s and 1980s, executives at Hindustan Lever Limited assumed that customers for laundry detergent in India were primarily affluent individuals willing to pay for Surf; they didn’t notice that Nirma, a low-cost competitor, appealed to a growing segment of lower-income customers who hadn’t used any detergent before.