“Think outside the box” is the phase used for several decades to encourage creative thinking.
Your outside-the-box thinking won’t make the limits of your staffing, dollar resources, and competitive challenges go away. Won’t do anything to expand the day beyond 24 hours either.
Justin Lathrop suggests we should Stop Thinking Outside the Box.
He pondered this tweet from Bobby Gruenewald at Catalyst Conference:
“Innovation comes from ‘thinking inside the box;’ believing God has given you everything you need despite constraints.”
Mr. Lathrop points out four dangers of trying to think outside the box. We can:
Open ourselves up to constantly complaining about our restraints
Are tempted to focus too much on creating the next big thing
Might become guilty of only dreaming and never doing
Start to rely on our ideas and strengths instead of God
There is danger here in becoming immobilized by our constraints. We can fall into the trap that we could do great things outside the box if only.
Seth Godin points out in Maybe next year…
Maybe next year…
- The economy will be going gangbusters
- Your knowledge will reach critical mass …
- Your family situation will be stable
- The competition will stop innovating …
…and then you can implement that great plan.
Until then you are stuck.
The highest creativity is to do things within our current constraints. Mr. Lathrop suggests when we start thinking that way we:
Look for solutions or improvements to current restraints
Trust God and everything He’s given us
Are more prone to use the talents and abilities God has given us
Free ourselves to make a real impact and accomplish great things
The core of his point here is that maybe, just maybe, God will get the credit if we get creative inside our current constraints.
Perhaps we should dream and plan for wonderful things leaning on God and then work within our current constraints.
I’m seeing this concept in my life now.
First, can’t go into details, but at my church we are thinking inside the box of our current constraints and great things are happening. God is moving and we are doing things inside the box. It’s obvious to me that it is God who is making things happen. And He is doing it inside our current constraints.
Second, again no details, but I’ve got some great ideas for increasing my impact in the nonprofit community but those ideas are way beyond certain resource constraints. As a result those nifty ideas aren’t going anywhere. Maybe next year…
Oh, wait, that’s what Mr. Godin was warning about. I probably need to figure out how to get my creative thinking back inside the box.
My other posts exploring the limits of thinking outside the box:
- Be creative *inside* the box explores the need to creatively help our constituencies who are struggling to implement change while we work within serious constraints of legal and regulatory and accounting and tax rules.
- If we are working with constraints of tax reporting and GAAP, perhaps we ought not be too creative. That insightful flash of creative accounting? Maybe not a good thing. If you go too far off the edge of the accounting and tax map, there be fraud.