Inside the Box: A Proven System of Creativity for Breakthrough Results

Summary

“Say adieu to brainstorming: People are at their most innovative when they work within the constraints of what they already know.” “Inside the Box” challenges common creativity assumptions, making a persuasive case that the innovation discourse needs radical updating toward a new normal. Authors Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg have leveraged their combined decades of experiential knowledge with empirical research, concluding that innovation should involve a new and improved mindset among organizations and inventors.

THINK Review

“Say adieu to brainstorming: People are at their most innovative when they work within the constraints of what they already know.”

Authors Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg asked senior executives two key questions about innovation: “On a scale of one to 10, how important is innovation to the success of your firm?” And: “On a scale of one to 10, how satisfied are you with the level of innovation in your firm?”

The executives – who hailed from every major continent and a variety of major industries – rated the importance of innovation very high: usually a nine or 10. But the same senior executives gave low ratings — below five — to their level of satisfaction with innovation within their own organizations.

That disconnect between the high value placed on innovation and the low self-evaluation executives gave to their own organizations is puzzling. What made executives rate innovation so highly while feeling dissatisfied with their own results? Boyd and Goldenberg believe the sticking point is the how: How does one actually generate novel ideas and do so consistently, whenever needed?

The long-held belief when it comes to creativity is that it is unstructured and doesn’t follow rules or patterns. People in brainstorming sessions and creativity workshops are being asked to think outside the box, go wild and move outside of their comfort zones.

But what if new and compelling evidence came to light, casting doubt on the accepted wisdom while promising a different path to success?

“Inside the Box” challenges common creativity assumptions, making a persuasive case that the innovation discourse needs radical updating toward a new normal.  Recognized new product development (NPD) theorist Jacob Goldenberg and seasoned marketing leader Drew Boyd have leveraged their combined decades of experiential knowledge with empirical research, concluding that innovation should involve a new and improved mindset among organizations and inventors.

Think inside the proverbial box, not outside of it.

People are most creative when they focus on the internal aspects of a situation or problem — and when they limit their options rather than broaden them. The authors introduce five techniques that will help innovators to manipulate the components to create new ideas that can then be put to valuable use. The five techniques are:

  • Subtraction: Remove essential elements.
  • Task unification: Bring together unrelated tasks or functions.
  • Multiplication: Copy a component and then alter it.
  • Division: Separate the components of a product or service and rearrange them.
  • Attribute dependency: Make the attributes of a product change in response to changes in another attribute or in the surrounding environment.

In order to be consistently innovative, the better approach is to create a new form for something familiar and then to find a function it can perform. The best ideas are often right under our noses, connected in some way to our current view of the world.

The book presents a compelling case for its chief claim: Creativity can be systematized, can be taught and can accelerate and qualitatively improve product, service and process innovation outcomes when properly understood and embraced. While grounded in complex academic work, the reader will find “Inside the Box” to be highly accessible as it disruptively challenges concept generation or ideation paradigms.

Buy the book at Amazon.com

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