Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 08/01/2022
About a half-century ago (I’m not kidding) the “nine-dot puzzle” appeared (origins murky) which dared someone to connect all nine dots (three rows of three) with a single line. And the only way to do this was by stretching the line beyond the “box” formed by the dots. For those of you under 40 or so, take my word for it that this challenged many people who had never seen it.
Thus, “thinking outside of the box,” the beaten up cliché and meme, was given birth. The philosophical point was that you can’t improve if you arbitrarily and artificially confine yourself to a perceived limitation that doesn’t really exist. Are you still with me?
As you’re probably suspecting, I’ve had it with this kind of inchoate ukase, as if everything “inside the box” is worthless and worn. Super glue and Velcro® were discovered accidentally. Fred Smith created FedEx as a better alternative to the postal service. The telephone followed the telegraph. Neither keyboards (from typewriters to computers) nor bicycles have really changed dramatically.
We actually delimit ourselves believing we have to generate the next management trend, the next phone app, the next “smart” anything.
Sometimes all we need, and the potential for vast success, merely rests upon floss that doesn’t keep snapping, sun tan lotion that IS waterproof, or helping people improve rapidly who aren’t performing well. There’s a lot of potential inside the box, why not start there?
And, by the way, if you fold the paper the nine dots are on, which isn’t against the rules, it turns out you don’t have to go “outide the box” to solve it. Of course, when I did that to everyone’s shock and applause at the age of 25, I didn’t know about boxes.
Why don’t they make the whole plane out of that black box stuff? —Steven Wright
The whole point is to live life and be—to use all the colors in the crayon box. —RuPaul
A box without hinges, key, or lid, yet golden treasure inside is hid. —J. R. R. Tolkien