When looking for these creative ideas and innovative solutions, it is often said that one should “think outside the box.” But what exactly is this proverbial “box”?
You can think of it as the space in the brain that contains all those bits of information and connections made so far. A dot is a bit of information in the knowledge base. And after solving a problem, repeatedly the same way, the connections become automatic. So, when a person is faced with the same problem, the mind, without any conscious effort presents the old, known solution.
In many ways, the mind operates like a computer. It scans the knowledge base of the memory (mind) to come up with creative solutions. If the knowledge base is old, the ideas generated may be obsolete. If the knowledge base is limited to a very small part of the total business process or operation, then the solution will only take that area into account.
Solutions that are derived from the same thought processes that the mind has used for years are unlikely to be innovative. The requirement for outside-the-box thinking is the ability to make new connections. New connections can be made in one of two ways: (1) having more dots to connect (a new or updated knowledge base) or (2) connecting the old dots in new imaginative ways.
Because creativity is the ability to connect seemingly unrelated variables (the dots we store in our minds) in imaginative ways, employees must continually update their knowledge bases…