We've all heard the term "think outside the box." The idea is that the best solutions are often reached by those who try to reason beyond what are considered to be the standard solutions of a problem. Often times, this is a good strategy. However, some problems can only be solved by doing the opposite, and thinking inside the box.
What does that mean? Harvard Business Review contributor Ray Sheen explains that it simply means searching within your organization for the right idea.
"Companies spend a lot of time and effort trying to adapt ideas from other industries and other disciplines, but I would guess there's at least one idea lurking within your own company that you could use to great advantage," he writes.
He advises business owners to "look for anomalies" within company performance. If one area performs better than all the rest, see if this is a recurring phenomenon. For example, Sheen cites companies that keep business-unit dashboards. If one unit has a 4 percent customer complaint rate, and another has only a 2 percent rate, owners should ask themselves what the second unit is doing better. Sure, outside companies may have a solution, but why look there when you can stay within the organization?
At Sozo Design, we often find ourselves operating in a similar manner. We work with clients who bring innovative ideas to the table. Not all of these ideas work at first, but we try to keep them and help the client find other uses for them, rather than throwing them out and starting over entirely.