Look harder inside the box

I hate the phrase “think outside the box”, it’s such a cliche. Anyway, why not look harder inside the box first? According to the authors Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg*, the solutions are often closer than we think. 

  • Download this worksheet
  • List all the elements of your project (people, resources, etc) inside the box.
  • Now write around the box all the factors (people and resources) that are not part of your project but are close to hand. Boyd & Goldenberg call these the “Closed World” immediately around your project
  • Try a Simple Subtraction: cross off one element at a time from the list inside the box, removing a factor you previously thought was essential to your project. Ask yourself what benefits the slimmed-down version could bring. Who might want it and why? Is it viable?
  • Now Subtract and Substitute: look at the Closed World immediately surrounding the box. Is there anything here that would fill the gap left by the feature you’ve removed?
  • Are any of the new ideas viable? Repeat the task, using a different piece from inside the box.

Credit: you’ll find many more techniques to find solutions close to hand in Inside the Box, by Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg.