The HeadScratcher Post Archive
August 2007
Thinking outside "The Box"




The Headscratcher Post                    


August  2007              The Headscratcher Post ©  Headscratchers LLC              Edition 28




Thinking Outside the Box … Implies that there is a box that you would normally think within.  Ever think about what that box is?


The Nine Dot Problem.   Start at one point and connect the nine dots using only 4 lines without lifting your pen or pencil.   Hint: This is where the expression “Think Outside the Box” came from.  For the answer go to








What is the box?  The “box” is defined by a set of assumptions and the logic used to make conclusions.  We talked about inductive logic weighted by assumptions in our previous Post, so let’s stay with assumptions.   For many people, “the box” in the 9 dot problem above, is defined by the assumption that the lines can’t go beyond the dots.  Change the assumption and you open up a whole new world of solutions.


The “Box” is created by you when you start looking at a problem.  It is bounded not only with your assumptions about the business, but your assumptions about what you can do, what others can do, what even makes sense?  Your inductive reasoning uses these assumptions to make conclusions.   So if you change your assumptions, your conclusions may change as well.


So … Thinking Outside the Box  is another way to say, “Thinking Beyond Your Assumptions”, or, “Thinking With Different Assumptions”. 


Step outside the box by listing and then inspecting each of your assumptions and asking yourself, “what if this assumption was not true, or different?”   Note: You generally have a lot of assumptions when you approach a problem, so it takes a bit of work to make the list.   Try this about something you are currently HeadScratching about … you’ll discover things that you have assumed to be “the way it is”, but in fact can change.


The Takeaway.  Your assumptions form the boundaries of “The Box”.  Change or experiment with other assumptions and you will be thinking beyond The Box.  This is where new ideas and solutions exist !!!


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