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Thinking in New Boxes: A New Paradigm for Business Creativityby Luc De Brabandere
Synopses & Reviews
When BIC, manufacturer of disposable ballpoint pens, wanted to grow, it looked for an idea beyond introducing new sizes and ink colors. Someone suggested lighters.
With an idea that seemed crazy at first, that bright executive, instead of seeing BIC as a pen company—a business in the PEN “box”—figured out that there was growth to be found in the DISPOSABLE “box.” And he was right. Now there are disposable BIC lighters, razors, even phones. The company opened its door to a host of opportunities.
IT INVENTED A NEW BOX.
Your business can, too. And simply thinking “out of the box” is not the answer. True ingenuity needs structure, hard analysis, and bold brainstorming. It needs to start
THINKING IN NEW BOXES
—a revolutionary process for sustainable creativity from two strategic innovation experts from The Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
To make sense of the world, we all rely on assumptions, on models—on what Luc de Brabandere and Alan Iny call “boxes.” If we are unaware of our boxes, they can blind us to risks and opportunities.
This innovative book challenges everything you thought you knew about business creativity by breaking creativity down into five steps:
• Doubt everything. Challenge your current perspectives.
• Probe the possible. Explore options around you.
• Diverge. Generate many new and exciting ideas, even if they seem absurd.
• Converge. Evaluate and select the ideas that will drive breakthrough results.
• Reevaluate. Relentlessly. No idea is a good idea forever. And did we mention Reevaluate? Relentlessly.
Creativity is paramount if you are to thrive in a time of accelerating change. Replete with practical and potent creativity tools, and featuring fascinating case studies from BIC to Ford to Trader Joe’s, Thinking in New Boxes will help you and your company overcome missed opportunities and stay ahead of the curve.
This book isn’t a simpleminded checklist. This is Thinking in New Boxes.
And it will be fun. (We promise.)
Praise for Thinking in New Boxes
“Excellent . . . While focusing on business creativity, the principles in this book apply anywhere change is needed and will be of interest to anyone seeking to reinvent herself.”—Blogcritics
“Thinking in New Boxes is a five-step guide that leverages the authors’ deep understanding of human nature to enable readers to overcome their limitations and both imagine and create their own futures. This book is a must-read for people living and working in today’s competitive environment.”—Ray O. Johnson, Ph.D., chief technology officer, Lockheed Martin
“Thinking In New Boxes discusses what I believe to be one of the fundamental shifts all companies/brands need to be thinking about: how to think creatively, in order to innovate and differentiate our brands. We need to thrive and lead in a world of accelerating change and this book challenges us to even greater creativity in our thinking. One of the best business books I’ve read in a long time.”—Jennifer Fox, CEO, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
“As impressive as teaching new tricks to old dogs, Thinking in New Boxes is both inspirational and practical—a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to sharpening one’s wits in order to harness creativity in the workplace.”—Peter Gelb, general manager, Metropolitan Opera
"Categorizing information is part of human nature, but in today's rapidly evolving business climate, 'pre-wired ways of thinking' can threaten an enterprise's very survival. Boston Consulting Group executives Brabandare (The Forgotten Half of Change) and Iny suggest that thinking 'outside the box' defies our natural tendencies and suggest that leaders, instead, should think 'in the box,' but with a new mindset. In this entertaining and transformative work, the authors provide a framework and structure for creative thinking that even traditionalists can embrace. Through five steps — doubt everything, probe the possible, diverge, converge, and reevaluate relentlessly — they propose a sustainable creative process that will serve an organization in the long-term. Using examples from their research, consulting projects, and from major companies, the concepts come to life. Readers see how Generali Insurance, a 200-year-old Italian firm, used off-sites, interactive exercises, and brainteasers to create an Internet strategy, and how Netflix used reevaluation to reenvision and reinvigorate its business model. The book is both academically rigorous and highly accessible, with call-out graphics, charts, and optical illusions adding visual interest and illustrating concepts. Informative and practical, this is a must-read for anyone in a leadership position who dares to look at the world in new ways. Agent: Todd Shuster, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
To thrive in a world of accelerating change, creativity is paramount. But most organizations fail to make the kinds of imaginative leaps to ensure long-term success. Enter Thinking in New Boxes, a revolutionary road map for sustainable creativity, written by two strategic innovation experts from The Boston Consulting Group.
To make sense of the world, we all rely on assumptions, on models—on what Luc de Brabandere and Alan Iny call “boxes.” If we are unaware of our boxes, they can blind us to risks and opportunities. Yet thinking “out of the box” is not the answer. Our brains don’t work that way. True ingenuity needs structure. It needs new boxes that balance self-awareness with hard analysis and bold brainstorming.
This innovative book challenges everything you thought you knew about business creativity—and provides a practical way to achieve it. Thinking in New Boxes is not just a process, it is a mindset that can help you sustain success in business as well as in life.
Case in point: BIC started as a stationery company and purveyor of popular low-cost ballpoint pens. Business was healthy, but BIC wanted to grow. Had BIC thought of itself as a “pen” company, it might have focused solely on expanding its range of pens with new colors, new sizes, and new price points. But one executive perceived a new box. BIC was not in the pen business, it was in the “inexpensive disposable plastic items” business. With this breakthrough change to a different box, the company opened its eyes to a host of new opportunities—disposable lighters, razors, and even precharged mobile phones. BIC and its sales soared.
This groundbreaking guide takes a radically new approach to the business of creativity by breaking it down into five simple steps. First, doubt everything: Step away from your comfort zone and challenge your perceptions and prejudices. Second, probe the possible: Reexamine the world, not so that you can determine the right answers but so that you can ask the right questions. Third, divergence: Discover a plethora of fun, easy-to-implement exercises designed to help you and your team generate many new and exciting ideas. Fourth, convergence: Evaluate, prioritize, and select the ideas that will drive breakthrough results. And last, reevaluate relentlessly: Foster a new kind of creative process that is not only practical but also sustainable. No good idea is good forever.
Packed with interactive games, visualization tools, and creativity boosters, Thinking in New Boxes empowers you to tailor the five steps to your own needs, both personal and professional. You’ll find fascinating real-world case studies—from Netflix and Qwikster to Ford and Trader Joe’s. You’ll learn to overcome missed creative opportunities and to avoid them in the future. And you will discover how to stay ahead of the curve. This isn’t a simpleminded checklist. This is the discipline of sustainable creativity. This is Thinking in New Boxes.
About the Author
Luc de Brabandere is a fellow and a senior advisor in the Paris office of The Boston Consulting Group. He leads strategic seminars with boards, senior executives, and managers from a wide range of companies looking to develop new visions, new products and services, and long-term scenarios to prepare for the future. He is the author or co-author of nine books, including The Forgotten Half of Change: Achieving Greater Creativity Through Changes in Perception, and a regular columnist for various newspapers in France and Belgium. Prior to joining BCG, he was the general manager of the Brussels Stock Exchange.
Alan Iny is the senior specialist for creativity and scenarios at The Boston Consulting Group. He has trained thousands of executives and BCG consultants, runs a wide range of workshops across industries, and speaks around the world about coming up with product, service, and other ideas, developing a new strategic vision, and thinking creatively about the future. Before joining BCG in 2003, he earned an MBA from Columbia Business School and an honors BSc from McGill University in mathematics and management. Iny lives in New York with his wife and daughter.
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