If you’ve spent any time in the American corporate world, you’ve likely heard this week’s “idiom of the week.” To “think outside the box” is an expression most claim to hate and all would agree is overused. Yet, it’s still frequently heard in meeting rooms and on conference calls across the country. For example, when working to come up with new ideas for a project or to modify a process to be more efficient, leaders and others will often push their team to “think outside the box” to come up with something fresh and new. And while it may be met with eye rolls and sighs of irritation, one thing is clear – everyone knows exactly what it means.
The handy, online Free Dictionary provides the following definition:
think outside the box (definition)Fig. to think freely, not bound by old, nonfunctional, or limiting structures, rules, or practices. (As if thinking or creativity were confined in or limited by a figurative box. Compare this with think inside the box.) You won’t come up with good ideas until you think outside the box. Let’s think outside the box for a minute and try to find a better solution.