In the last episode we learned that the scientific research that told everyone to think outside the box to overcome challenges and to be creative in life and work, was summarily misguided. We can be primed that a box exists, and we’ll still see a box as a limitation, unless we are guided to work within it.
So for the individual, it’s important to remember a few things when thinking creatively. Creative thinking is an exercise in resilience not resistance. A box is the way your psyche gains greater control, focus, and perspective. As well, if you don’t know you’re in a box, you’re unlikely to know how to work well within it. For anything creative to be produced, you are subject to rules, laws, and/or other conceptual frameworks. I hear this the most from creative professionals, such as visual artists and performers, but the reality is that, even if you don’t like it, you’re not capable of thinking beyond boxes like gravity and other laws of physics and Nature. Creativity necessitates a framework. We’re all working inside one, if not many, boxes. Heuristics and wisdom provide value, and so does training to work within the boxes.
One important caveat that lateral thinking provides is in avoiding the Einstellung effect, where we use past experience incorrectly to guide us in seemingly similar situations. Don’t be blinded by a box looking like other boxes. Discerning differences in situations can be difficult, but staying vigilant for nuanced changes is one of the exciting challenges of creativity and problem-solving.
We all need to navigate the boxes by training to identify our boxes, using our experiences inside the boxes, and not deluding ourselves that we can think beyond the boxes in which we reside.