Monday, July 07, 2008

Outside the Box

Thinking about outside the box

This seems popular in some circles. That it is called a box to think out of implies some pre-judgment as to what you are trying to think out of.

It’s like trying to find a truly random number – it’s harder than you think, and if you frame the question the wrong way – the answer will be fucked.

A box can be thought of as digital in that it can be explained accurately by the use of mathematics and numbers. Since the things both inside and out can be defined and put into a bigger box. by algebraic substitution, you can figure out what is by what isn’t, so the concept of outside the box is flawed from the start.

What I think is really being asked is more analog – a non-fixed relational comparison of one thing that leads to another – not so much linear as serendipitous. Thinking outside the box is not being crazy and delusional – it has to have a relationship to the things inside the box itself in order to answer any useful questions.

Like a milkshake – something needs to exist to shake against – otherwise it’s not a shake, it’s a spatter.

It’s sort of an updated, ‘outside the pale.’ You build, become comfortable – then leap into the unknown –except it’s never really the unknown – it’s already been roughed out with expectations that it’s about the same as the stuff you already known. The really scary parts have been glossed over with the thought of new opportunities and better quality crap to exploit. What’s outside becomes perceived through human eyes to be a virgin inside for people with balls. It’s not new thinking – its risk management.

(As an aside, when I think of outside the pale these days – I think or smokers standing in far faraway and using the pail to put out their cigarettes.)

A better way to think about the box is:

1. Think your way Out of the box. This provides structure and the wisdom of experience and works for rats in a cage – provided a reward at the end is sufficient to justify the outlay of exertion and/or time. People naturally try to escape confinement, so let this work to your'e advantage for once.
(As management – if it appears people are getting close to escaping the box you can JUST MAKE THE BOX BIGGER!)

2. Make the box bigger in the first place. This seems to be the Google approach – let smart people drift within a loosely defined and structured environment – then patent and exploit what they produce. Just remember – everyone gets a cut or it won’t work.

3. Make the box smaller – this is the nuclear option – just squeeze personalities tighter and tighter until they fuse – then bang! You need a lot of supervision (AKA—graphite rods – slick dicks (manager)) to keep the reactions chained.
 The advantage to this is – virtually limitless cheap and powerful energy forever.

4. Make the box a circle and then poke it with sharp things until it pops.
Messy, loud but kind of fun in a sky-is-falling way. Style points for the best poker help motivate the chaos.

5. Just SAY you’re outside the box – then tell people to get back into it any way they can.
Perception is reality for many organizations – most, I think to be honest. Just build a non structure and fill it in with what you think is real. People love the security of structure and will have less fear working towards something more solid than unknown. And the trains will run on time more often with a schedule.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You're pretty insane.