Some people are just naturally gifted, they seem to be able to think big, dream big and are great big picture thinkers, and some people are not so fortunate and are not able to see outside of the box they have created for themselves. Fortunately, there are a few tricks you can learn to help you think outside of the box and see the bigger picture, so that you can approach any problem from an entirely new perspective.
Identify the Problem
The first thing we need to do is identify the real problem, so what problem are you trying to solve that needs a solution? Are you trying to create a new product for your audience? Are you trying to create a new service? What exactly is the problem?
Define How the Problem Developed
If you can define how the problem developed, you’ll come that much closer to a potential solution. Make sure you understand the steps it took to create the issue.
Set Parameters to Focus Your Solutions
There is no point coming up with a solution you cannot implement, so you want to define what a solution really means. For instance, should it be legal, ethical, and fit within a particular budget?
Seek Inspiration by Doing Something Different
If you’re stuck, it’s important to get outside of the normal way you work and think. If you normally work inside a stuffy office, go outside. Even changing the position of your seat can help you think differently. Perhaps you also need to be open up to new people to help you come up with more solutions, if you carry out business networking you already know a few people you could bounce ideas off of.
Define Solutions to the Problem
Start inside the box. List the typical solutions to the problem. If they work fine you really don’t need to go much further. However, if they don’t really work well for yourself or your audience, it’s time to move outside the box and do something new.
Get a New Perspective
Even for solutions that seem unlikely, leave nothing off the table. This is brainstorm time. Start with the obvious, then work through more solutions based on how the problem began. Remember right now you want quantity, not quality. The more ideas you can generate now, the better. You’ll whittle them down later.
Looking at problems by tearing them apart, and looking at both traditional and non-traditional approaches to a problem, is the key to learning how to think outside the box. You don’t want to forget the box; sometimes the best solutions lie in the box. Take the wheel, for example. The wheel still works great just as it is. Yes, some innovation has taken place in terms of material but a wheel is and always will be round.
To get outside the box to find solutions you may not have considered, it is important to never dismiss any solution out of hand before you have the chance to think it through from all angles. You never know where something might lead you. It’s important to let go of judgment while you brainstorm ideas. Only place judgment on ideas after brainstorming is finished and only within the parameters you’ve set.
Having never done something before is not a good enough reason not to try. Just because something has never been done before, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Someday, your new outside-the-box idea may become an inside the box norm. Like traveling in an airplane. Think about that for a moment.
A Real Example of Thinking Outside the Box
Let me give you a real example of thinking outside the box that I used when starting my business. In the nineties I decided to get serious about my website design business, I carried out the research and I found out that I needed various software products if I was to compete with the best. This software was well outside of my price range, I just didn’t have tens of thousands of dollars (closer to 100K from memory) however I didn’t let that stop me. Over the course of a few weeks, I came up with the solution to start an online website design software review / magazine style website, complete with its own newsletter. This is how http://cyber-aspect.com was born and over the next ten years, we review software, books and all manner of things… and you’ve guessed it, at the start I was given all of this amazing software to review at absolutely no cost and in those days you were allowed to keep and use the software (now they don’t allow this)… So I achieved my aim, I gained access to all of the top software development companies, and I even gained press access to an International Golf Tournament all by thinking outside of the box.