There’s Room Inside the Box

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Boxes are bad. They are tight and prevent us from thinking, at least anything slightly different or new. Being inside a box is like plugging off one’s brain and destroying the capability to change and renew. Whenever there’s a need for innovative ideas and creation, the first thing to do is to somehow win the gravity of the box and crawl outside – to free yourself from the suffocating box. And then, just like that, groundbreaking ideas just start popping up…

Maybe I’m being negative. Or just difficult. Or I don’t have a clue of what creativity is and needs, but either way, I strongly believe boxes are underrated. I believe in boxes and try in my own simple way to restore their honor.

Few moths ago I had a chance to get to know an interesting and well-functioning organization. Global, rapidly growing, innovative and very strongly self-organized. One could think they had it all – a recipe of success. And they are successful. Yet, something was missing, something essential. Something the whole organization needed and wanted. Something they all yearned for. That one thing was clarity. Clarity on what to do, where to focus, how to prioritize. What they were missing was the frames of working, direction for creating. The box.

Creating something is actually really challenging, if not impossible, when the only specification is to create something totally different, something no one hasn’t thought of before, something mind-blowing. Definitely an interesting assignment, but in many ways too big of a burden for organizations to carry.

Don’t get me wrong, I support creativity and self-organization and believe the are in many ways keys for future growth and success. But in order to truly generate new ideas and had self-organization, frames and guidelines are needed. They provide shared meaning and direction which create the ground to build the new, a map to guide yourself and the team. It’s hard to choose the way, if you don’t know where you are heading. So, instead of making box-free zones, let’s expand them – make more room for everyone to breathe, grow and bring new.

Boxes are good. When there’s enough space. Boxes give direction. But there needs to room to create one’s one path. Boxes provide a safe place for ideas and creation if we just learn to use them as a strength instead of the worst enemy of development. We don’t always need to thing outside the box. There is also room inside of them.