A review of the March networking evening, by Deborah Valentine of a hand in The Hague.
march-networkingAt least this is how I appreciated the presentation given by Andy Mayer at our March networking evening “Thinking about the box: inside and out”.
The ‘box’ is what we have been programmed to think we need to always think ‘out of’ in order to do things differently, create opportunities, develop innovatively.
However, Andy challenged us to actually reflect on what is IN the box, our box, before we venture beyond it, and its boundaries. Reminding us that the box is in fact representative of boundaries. These boundaries, representing constraints need to be appreciated and understood, for it is only when these constraints are ‘tight’ that we are in fact challenged. And, it is only then that we realise we need to move beyond the box and find solutions to overcoming or moving beyond the constraint, problem we are confronting.
We need to figure out what is constraining before we can start a process of identifying what the possible solutions may be. By virtue of this same analysis therefore, why think out of a box if it is not yet constraining you? Unless of course, you simply want to do things differently. Even then though, good to know what you have before venturing further, no?
Andrew Mayes is a design thinker, and it is from this experience, and passion, that he spoke to us at the March Networking evening. The first, revealing, thought for the evening was being reminded, or in my case, informed, that design thinking is in fact a cyclic process – a concept confirmed with his closing statement: “…and now, do it again”.
I had never stopped to think about design thinking, nor what that as a process could teach us about facing challenges (constraints) and overcoming them (thinking outside the box).

7 Principles of Design Thinking

In a very informative, as well as entertaining presentation Andy summarised the 7 principles of design thinking.

  1. Figure out what the constraints are: know what is already being done (by you or others). Immerse yourself in what is being done, research, imagine if you are a service provider ‘a day in the life of’ the person you want to serve.
  2. What is inside your box? What data can you extrapolate from what you already do?
  3. Ideate, ideate, ideate. Create as many possible, even off the wall, solutions. Use divergent as well as convergent thinking to create these ideas, and remember according to Andy (and many others) “…ideation works best within multidisciplinary environments/teams.”
  4. Eliminate the obvious (from above) – those which have been done, before by you or others.
  5. Iterate. Repeat the process, sure to find even more ideas. Keep thinking.
  6. Prototype & test. Test your idea. There will always be ways people apply an idea which differ from what you intended – could be good, may reveal where adjustments are needed.
  7. Determine the best ‘solution’, for now. Times and conditions will change, accept that each solution will also have an ‘expiry date’ so to speak, so focus on a solution for the now – for the constraints you wish to overcome.

As per the second source of ‘all’ knowledge (after Google of course), Wikipedia provides the following definition for thinking outside of the box: “Thinking outside the box is a metaphor that means to think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective. This phrase often refers to novel or creative thinking.”
But, as Andy added “the author of creativity is yourself and those you surround yourself with, and engage,” for in this way the most possible ideas can be generated, even more so if done in an interdisciplinary environment. A fitting segway I would say to Alison’s post on Collaboration, no?, not to mention Vanessa’s timely article on how to ideate better.
I would say that Andy’s words seem to have taken root within the WBII!
Andy’s presentation is available for download, here.

Deborah-ValentineDeborah Valentine is an English language copywriter. She writes for several expat oriented magazines; helps entrepreneurs with their web and marketing texts and edits material prepared by non-native English language speakers.