Is “Out Of The Box” a Myth ?

I had a brief exchange of tweets with Ram Manohar Tiwari ( @rmtiwari on twitter ) recently on out of the box thinking , and since then a lot of thoughts have been brewing in my mind about this .

Everyone I know in corporate circles is a fan of “out of the box” . I don’t think a day has passed in my working life these past few years without someone mentioning it explicitly . It almost gives me an impression that there is this huge big box , full of regular joes like me – and a handful of smart people who stand outside and try their best to get us on their side .

My view on this matter is that there is no such thing as “out of the box”. People maybe able to get out of “A” box , but they will be in “some box” all the time . And because people are different from each other – most people should be able to tell others to get out of the box . All they can do is get out of their current box, get into a box with more space , and when that box fills up – then jump to yet another box .

Some times you might even have to visit the box you were in earlier – the one that you took pains to get out . If you need an example : think of people moving out of mainframes and now going to a similar model in cloud computing 🙂

I also doubt we are just in one box at a time – my feeling is that we are at the intersection of several ones at any point in time . This makes me claustrophobic just thinking about it . This is also the reason getting out if a box is hard – it is like a relational DB. All the dependencies need to be taken care off before you whack a table 🙂

All things considered , I now think teams will have more success by making use of diversity in its members than making a homogeneous team try hard to get out of the boxes they are in .

I think I have sufficiently bored you by now . If you need to be “un-bored”, try some out of the box thinking ….NOT


Published by Vijay Vijayasankar

Son/Husband/Dad/Dog Lover/Engineer. Follow me on twitter @vijayasankarv. These blogs are all my personal views - and not in way related to my employer or past employers

3 thoughts on “Is “Out Of The Box” a Myth ?

  1. When I first read the title, I thought you were talking about “out of the box functionality” versus unique, customized functionality…that’d be another good topic for discussion!


  2. Hi Vijay,

    I think we need to think “out of the box” to come up with a new word to describe “out of the box” thinking!

    Diverse teams and a culture of continuous learning and improvement is the real fuel for out of the box thinking!



  3. The problem is not as much with out of the box thinking as it is strategies that are boxed-in due to the confines of business models. Occasionally creative thinking has proven to come up with methods to successfully navigate transitions, but far more common is the efficient if blunt use of competitive force — has a way of unleashing boards to do what they could not voluntarily–cannibalize business model prior to a big bang disruption. Confusion and spin over the term disruption is symptomatic. Boxes are not so much a problem for those who disrupt, rather quite common in cultures ripe for disruption:)


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