I remember as a kid always talking to ankles and knees when an adult approached to greet me. And then there was that awkward look up to try to see his or her face. As an adult I'm sensitive to that moment, so I bend down to get at eye level with a youngster.
Recently I visited the Gettysburg Battlefields and I felt a little bit of that looking at the ankles feeling as I looked at the base of large trees that surround portions of the grounds.
As we got to Cemetery Hill, we found ourselves atop the tree line, overlooking the battlefield, and what happened there became very clear.
As I reflected on the moment later, it got me thinking about how some of us conduct business today. You know ... a few years ago the "big thing" movement in business was to think outside the box. The battle cry was if you want to advance in your career, don't do what you've always done. That will just get you what it's always gotten you. You must think outside the boxif you want to move your business forward. So, business men and women began to look increasingly to technology for creativity in leadership and for new ideas in communication and in management. And now as we move to higher ground and we review where thinking outside the box has led us, we find that what's happening outside the box isn't all good, and in some significant areas.
For example, communication has grown exponentially digitally. Voice mail, email, text messaging, video conferencing, while great tools, have left younger entrants into the business world lacking in face-to-face communication skills. Leadership sometimes delivers bad news digitally, coldly, mercilessly to save difficult face-to-face moments. Teamwork is conducted in less than a civil manner often initiated by carelessly crafted e-mails. Here are some other thoughts about outside-the-box thinking.
A website called Lateral Action states,"The research evidence suggests that thinking outside the box fails to produce the expected creative solution. And far from being a hindrance, past experience and training can actually be the key to creative problem-solving."
So, before you think outside the box to create new solutions to age-old problems in business, take a look from a higher perspective. Like experience maybe? Training is a good idea, too. It just so happens that Outfluence is conducting a 3-part series this Fall in Westminster, Maryland that will address this question: What did we leave behind when we began thinking outside the box? Visit Outfluence.com in a few weeks when we will begin publishing information about the series. It begins in September.