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THINKING IN NEW BOXES by Luc de Brabandere


A New Paradigm for Business Creativity

by Luc de Brabandere ; Alan Iny

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-8129-9295-3
Publisher: Random House

Boston Consulting Group advisers de Brabandere (The Forgotten Half of Change: Achieving Greater Creativity Through Changes in Perception, 2005, etc.) and Iny showcase their company's approach to helping organizations develop that next big transforming idea.

The authors use the idea of boxes as the frame for their presentation—not the trope of thinking outside one but rather, how to organize the process to make new ones. The boxes are mental models that they contend people use to make sense of themselves and their world. The “new boxes” represent the idea of creating ways of thinking about oneself, one's organization and the world. The authors discuss a five-step process for bringing about transformation: doubt everything, probe the limits of possibility, encourage expression of different points of view, choose the options that seem to have the most potential for success, and re-evaluate relentlessly. They buttress their presentation with thought games and exercises and examples from the Boston Consulting Group's inventory of organizational techniques, which they have used with clients from around the world (e.g., the French postal service and glass manufacturer AGC Glass Europe). The authors focus on the case of the Bic company, which transformed itself from a one-box company—the maker of low-cost disposable plastic pens—into one that would be a “designer and maker of all manner of disposable, non-expensive plastic items”—e.g., cigarette lighters and razors. An array of brain-teasing games and ice-breaking–type techniques, which they call “warm ups” and “mini-world explorations,” flesh out the approach.

The authors provide some intriguing nuggets for thought, but the lack of discussion about the usual parameters of business success, like increasing sales, revenues, productivity and profit, is glaring.