Poke the Box and Innovation Comes Out

by Braden Kelley

Poke the Box and Innovation Comes Out

One of the best ways to challenge people’s thinking and get a group moving in a direction towards innovation is to get the group to define the box.

Of course a million and one innovation and creativity consultants will endlessly drone on about thinking outside the box, but how can think outside the box if you’re not first clear on what the box looks like that you’re trying to think outside of?

When I speak about poking the box, I’m not doing so in the Seth Godin ‘take a risk’ sense, but from the perspective of wanting people to visualize themselves standing in the box, giving a voice to what each of the six main sides are for the context in which you’re trying to innovate.

Start by making a list of the top six assumptions/constraints that we all make in this context:

  1. Assumption/Constraint
  2. Assumption/Constraint
  3. Assumption/Constraint
  4. Assumption/Constraint
  5. What does success look like in this context? — or alternatively, another Assumption/Constraint
  6. What does failure look like in this context? — or alternatively, another Assumption/Constraint

I’d like to thank innovation colleague Ton Verbeek for sharing the following video which looks at the ‘box’ of ground transportation and what happens if you shift from a 2D approach to ground transportation to a 3D approach:

So, what are the assumptions in ground transportation?

What are the constraints?

What does success look like in ground transportation?

What does failure look like in ground transportation?

How has the designer who created this video poked the box?

How has the designer explored the walls of the box and proposed pushing some of them outwards?

Which other assumptions or constraints could be challenged in ground transportation and what characteristics would potential solutions have in order to push a particular wall outwards?

As an example, I would say that the assumption the designer has challenged here in the context of ground transportation is the following:

— Must make efficient use of land to transport the maximum amount of people and goods

What other walls of the ground transportation box could and what would that look like?

Free Experiment Canvas

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Braden KelleyBraden Kelley is a popular innovation speaker, builds sustainable innovation cultures, and tools for creating successful change. He is the author of the five-star book Stoking Your Innovation Bonfire and the creator of a revolutionary new Change Planning Toolkit™. Follow him on Twitter (@innovate) and Linkedin.

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