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Ways of Thinking Outside the Box

There are dozens of good ways to think outside the box for better solutions and problems. Three of them follow. Of course, we don't always find a better solution through more creative or non-conventional thinking, but we sometimes do. That may not sound inspiring, so let me explain a bit further.

Let's assume for the sake of example that you get in the habit of thinking in new ways and you have many interesting, creative, but mostly unusable ideas. As a result, you often fall back on conventional solutions to your problems, whether at home or in business or at work. Still, once in a while you have an inspiration that increases your income or changes your life for the better. More rarely you might have a new idea or invention that the world hasn't seen. That's more interesting, isn't it?

It isn't necessary nor reasonable to expect that you'll have great new ideas every day, you see. On the other hand one good idea here and there can make all the difference. In fact, it can repay you for all the time spent brainstorming silly concepts that didn't work out. But how do you have that occasional flash of creative inspiration or profitable idea? Try one of the following ways.

1. Get Silly

I imagine that some readers will be annoyed by this suggestion. They don't want to start coming up with nonsense that makes them look silly. Even by yourself you may feel uncomfortable imagining eyes on shoes or talking to wheelchairs. Of course you don't have to do that to get seriously creative. Certainly there are other ways of thinking outside the box that don't require such silliness.

On the other hand, the innovation of reflective strips on running shoes actually came from a brainstorming session in which one participant imagined eyes on shoes looking out for cars and other dangers. Such silly ideas often morph into practical inventions if given the chance to exist. And in case you're wondering, there are not only wheelchairs that respond to the user's voice, but now one there is also one that can be controlled by the user's thinking.

2. Find New Definitions

The way you express or define problems affects the potential solutions you can come up with. The usual ways of stating a problem can be considered the "box" that you want to get out of. To do that try stating the problem in new ways, essentially redefining it.

In your business, for example, the issue may be how to get customers to buy more of your products. But this typical definition might just lead to price cuts or other common solutions. When you redefine the problem as how to help customers see the value you offer and so accept a higher price, you get new ideas. Or you might ask how to find customers who already appreciate what you have to offer and will pay the high price as soon as they know what you have. This approach takes you from the more stressful task of trying to sell more to just making more money from fewer happier customers.

3. Try Cross-Breeding

Suppose you need to make a house that is more energy efficient and so has lower bills. Rather than looking at other houses and what has been tried, look at a whole different area. Let's use animals as an example. Consider what do they do to heat and cool themselves, and how can you apply that to the design of your house. This kind of mixing or "cross breeding" of ideas form different areas of knowledge is one of the more interesting ways to get your thinking out of the box, and can provide some radical new concepts.


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