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Rethinking Inside the Box

Jay Bravo

by Jay Bravo, senior development specialist

How many times has your boss, or her boss or her boss’ boss told you, “We really need to think outside the box on this one”? What if we had the luxury of creating any solution we could think up, regardless of its practicality in a real world environment? Imagine how different our projects might be if we weren’t subsequently given a string of limitations.

But, let’s face it, we all work inside boxes. I am not referring to the half-walled, family photo covered cubicle you call home from 8am-5pm every weekday. I mean the boxes formed when constraints are put in place that limit the ways in which we can produce amazing work – things like time, budget, resources and most importantly, expectations.

Our boxes usually look like this.


With limitations on time, budget and resources, we find ourselves frequently balancing the creative risks against the pressures of our occupational endeavors. And that’s not a bad thing. The real issue is why anyone asked you to think outside the box in the first place – they want something new, something creative, something… more.

So, instead of continually trying to jump out of the box, maybe we should focus our efforts on the way we see the box. What if we looked at our box from a different angle?

What if our box looked like this?


When viewing the box as first seen, no wonder we felt the need to push outside the boundaries! It was flat and two dimensional – and the resulting project would likely be just as flat.

When we change our view of the box of constraints, we can start to make “out of the box” decisions. The attitude can shift from, “Well, what can I do?” to “What can’t I do!?!”

We will be forced to create our own ‘MacGyver’ like solutions from our assignments. “I know my boss expects me to change our call center employees’ behavior, but all he has given me is 10 weeks, a roll of duct tape, two paper clips, a useless intern and a trial version of PPT.”

Your challenge is to find a way to exceed expectations with what you have. You can reduce, reuse and recycle things you once took for granted inside the box. Be resourceful. Question what and how you use things.

  • Are you still building training in PowerPoint because you don’t have another way to build it or are you just comfortable with PowerPoint? 

  • Are you using the same old template because you assumed that it is required? 

  • Have you ever tried to combine a couple of different instructional strategies to present the training in a new way

  • Can you update the current e-learning with new images or color scheme? 

Now, back to the task your boss gave you. What can you do to change the call center employee’s behavior? How can you alter everyday objects to create something different that solves the problem? Who knows what creative and ingenious solutions you might be able to create simply by looking at your limitations from a different perspective.