Albert Einstein once said that “insantiy is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Innovation is, then, about thinking outside the box and finding that brand new idea, right?
Thinking outside the box has become a cliched way to describe innovation – an ironically inside-the-box way to motivate someone. It is also incredibly difficult, probably because no one really know where the box is, how big it is, or what’s in the box.
Our world is populated with myriad of boxes. In the new world where information flows at the speed of electrons in every industry, every iteration of an idea has at some point been conceived, if not already attempted. Google was not the first search engine, Microsoft did not make the first GUI-based operating system, Facebook was not the first social website. The world had thought the search engine, the GUI, and the social network were niche products for the technology business, the geeks, and the science fiction novels.
Only when looking back 10 years later can we gleam a hint of new boxes in the making during those times.
So maybe “thinking outside the box” had it backwards all along, that we should be thinking without worrying about the box – that when a set-back pushes us down, it is worth to just stand up, brush off the dust on our buttocks, and charge right back into the fray with renewed vigor. Boxes are for those looking back, not for the people that must keep moving forward.