Thinking outside the box

Thinking Outside The Box (also thinking out of the box [1] [2] or thinking beyond the box and, Especially in Australia , thinking outside the square [3] ) is a metaphor That means clustering to think are differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective. This phrase often refers to novel or creative thinking. The 1970s and 1980s challenge their customers to solve the “nine dots” puzzle, whose solution requires some lateral thinking . [4]This sentence can also be found commonly in dance, as it is encouraged to move creatively, beyond simple, geometric box steps and their basic variations, to literally step outside the box into more complex patterns of expression.

The catchphrase , or cliche , has become widely used in business environments, especially by management consultants and executive coaches, and has been referenced in a number of advertising slogans . To think outside the box, try to think beyond the point of view.

In England the origins of the phrase are believed to be of the Government Dispatch box where often people would speculate on the contents of the box on budget day.


A simplified definition for paradigm is a habit of reasoning or a conceptual framework .

A simplified analogy is “the box” in the commonly used phrase “thinking outside the box”. What is embedded in the words “inside the box” is analogous with the current, and often unnoticed, assumptions about a situation. Creative thinking acknowledges and rejects the accepted paradigm to come up with new ideas.

Nine dots puzzle

The concept of something outside the box is related to a traditional topographical puzzle called the nine dots puzzle . [4]

The origins of the phrase “thinking outside the box” are obscure; It was popularized in profit share Because of a nine-dot puzzle, qui John Adair claims to-have Introduced in 1969. [5] consultant Management Vance Mike HAS Claimed que le use of the nine-dot puzzle consultancy in circles stems from the Corporate Culture of the Walt Disney Company , where the puzzle was used in-house. [6]

The nine dots puzzle is much older than the slogan. It appears in Sam Loyd’s 1914 Cyclopedia of Puzzles . [7] In the 1951 compilation The Puzzle-Mine: Puzzles Collected from the Works of the Late Henry Ernest Dudeney , the puzzle is attributed to Dudeney himself. [8] Sam Loyd’s original formulation of the puzzle [9] entitled ” Christopher Columbus’s Egg Jigsaw.” This was an allusion to the story of Egg of Columbus .

The puzzle proposed an intellectual challenge-to connect the dots by drawing four straight, continuous lines that pass through each of the nine dots, and never lifting the pencil from the paper. The conundrum is easily resolved, but only by drawing the lines outside the confines of the square defined by the nine dots themselves. The phrase “thinking outside the box” is a restatement of the solution strategy. The puzzle seems to be difficult because people commonly imagine a boundary around the edge of the dot array. [10] The heart of the matter is the unspecified barrier that people typically perceive.

Ironically, telling people to “think outside the box” does not help them think outside the box, at least not with the 9-dot problem. [11] This is due to the distinction between procedural knowledge (implicit or tacit knowledge ) and declarative knowledge (book knowledge). For example, a non-verbal cue such as drawing a square outside the 9 dots does allow people to solve the 9-dot problem better than average. [12]

The nine-dot problem is a well-defined problem. It has a clearly stated goal, and all necessary information to solve the problem is included (connect all of the dots using four straight lines). Furthermore, well-defined problems have a clear ending. Although the solution is “outside the box” and it is obvious, it seems obvious. Other examples of well-defined problems are the Tower of Hanoi and the Rubik’s Cube .

In contrast, characteristics of ill-defined problems are:

  • not clear what the question really is
  • not clear how to arrive at a solution
  • no idea what the solution looks like

An example of an ill-defined problem is “what is the essence of happiness?” The skills needed to solve this type of problem are the ability to reason and draw inferences, metacognition , and epistemicmonitoring.

The single straight line solution

Another well-defined problem for the nine dots starting point is to connect the dots with a single straight line. The solution involves looking at the sheet of paper on which the nine dots are drawn. [13]

If solving the solution is called lateral thinking , then it may be called orthogonal thinking , [14] as it requires two separate phases: drawing the line and assembling the line.


This flexible English phrase is a rhetorical trope with a range of variant applications.

The metaphorical “box” in the phrase “outside the box” may be married with something real and measurable – for example, perceived budgetary [15] or organizational [16] constraints in a Hollywood development project. Speculating beyond its restrictive confines the box can be both:

  • (a) positive-fostering creative leaps as in generating wild ideas; [15] and
  • (b) negative-penetrating through the bottom of the box. James Bandrowski states that this could result in a frank and insightful re-appraisal of a situation, oneself, the organization, etc.

On the other hand, Bandrowski argues that the process of thinking “inside the box” needs to be construed in a pejorative sense. It is crucial for accurate analysis and execution of a variety of tasks – making decisions, analyzing data, and managing the progress of standard operating procedures, etc.

Hollywood screenwriter Ira Steven Behr appropriated this concept to inform plot and character in the context of a television series. Behr imagined a core character:

He is going to be “thinking outside the box,” you know, and usually when we do it, we think outside the box. So we can situate ourselves back in the box, but in a somewhat better position. [16]

The phrase can be used as a shorthand way of describing what happens next in a multi-stage design thinking process. [16]

See also

  • Egg of Columbus
  • Einstellung effect
  • Eureka effect
  • Kobayashi Maru
  • Gordian Knot
  • Lateral thinking


  1. Jump up^ “box – definition of box in English – Oxford Dictionaries” . Retrieved 21 November 2016 .
  2. Jump up^ “think outside the box – Definition, meaning & more – Collins Dictionary” . Retrieved 21 November 2016 .
  3. Jump up^ “Thinking Outside The Square” . Retrieved 21 November 2016 .
  4. ^ Jump up to:b Kihn Martin. “‘Outside the Box’: The Inside Story,” FastCompany 1995
  5. Jump up^ Adair, John (2007). The art of creative thinking how to be innovative and develop great ideas . London Philadelphia: Kogan Page. p. 127. ISBN  9780749452186 .
  6. Jump up^ Mike Vance Biography ofCreative Thinking Association of America.
  7. Jump up^ Sam Loyd,Cyclopedia of Puzzles. (The Lamb Publishing Company, 1914)
  8. Jump up^ J. Travers,The Puzzle-Mine: Puzzles Collected from the Works of the Late Henry Ernest Dudeney. (Thos, Nelson, 1951)
  9. Jump up^ Facsimile from Cyclopedia of Puzzles – Columbus’s Egg Puzzle is on right-hand page
  10. Jump up^ Daniel Kies,”English Composition 2: Assumptions: Puzzle of the Nine Dots”, retr. Jun. 28, 2009.
  11. Jump up^ MAIER, NORMAN RF; CASSELMAN, GERTRUDE G. (February 1, 1970). “LOCATING THE DIFFICULTY IN INSIGHT PROBLEMS: INDIVIDUAL AND SEX DIFFERENCES”. Psychological Reports . 26 (1): 103-117. doi : 10.2466 / pr0.1970.26.1.103 .
  12. Jump up^ Lung, Ching-tung; Dominowski, Roger L. (January 1, 1985). “Effects of strategy instructions and practice on nine-dot problem solving”. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition . 11 (4): 804-811. doi : 10.1037 / 0278-7393.11.1-4.804 .
  13. Jump up^ W. Neville Holmes,Fashioning a Foundation for the Computing Profession, July 2000
  14. Jump up^ Curtis Ogden,Orthographic Thinking & Doing, 25 September 2015
  15. ^ Jump up to:b Lupick, Travis. “Clone Wars proved a galactic task for production team.” The Georgia Straight , August 21, 2008; “… a positive way of thinking .
  16. ^ Jump up to:c “TCA Tour – You Asked For It: Will Steven Behr’s opening remarks” . Retrieved 21 November 2016 .