Tag Archives: Thinking outside the box

What every organization can learn from the CIA’s Red Cell to avoid stagnation

red team how to succeed by thinking like the enemyHow can your organization avoid stagnation and future proof itself?

In his book, Red Team: How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy, Micah Zenko tells the story of the CIA’s Red Cell group, devoted to “alternative analysis,” which includes techniques like “what ifs,” Team A/Team B exercises, and premortem analysis, all of which are used to identify holes in a plan, model an adversary to understand their weaknesses, or consider all of the conceivable ways a plan can fail beforehand.

Weekend innovation tip: To think outside the box look in other boxes

Thinking outside the box

Solutions are everywhere and the best way to think outside the box is to look in other boxes.

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Your box limits your view

How many times have you meet someone that tries to solve problems using the same method over and over again to no avail? More than you can remember I assume.

This is even more apparent as we grow older, we keep doing what worked before believing that’s the only way it can be done. If it isn’t broke don’t fix it right? The problem with this is that when we’re looking for new ideas we won’t find them looking in the same places, we have to venture off an unknown path where the chances of finding something new are more higher.

Why is it so difficult to try something new?

Because , we become so fixed in a single view of the world that we filter out all information that conflicts with our beliefs and are unable to see another possible solution.

What we see is what we think

The box is our .

Beliefs, assumptions of how you think your world (box) works all lock you in to a box, limiting your view of going about solving problems. The problem with this is that all your solutions will always be the same, predictable and linear. More of the same!

Brain researcher Gerhard Roth of the University of Bremen in Germany in his 2007 book whose title translates as Personality, Decision, and Behavior writes:

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“The brain is always trying to automate things and to create habits, which it imbues with feelings of pleasure. Holding to the tried and true gives us a feeling of security, safety, and competence while at the same time reducing our fear of the future and of failure.”

Look in other boxes that is not your own.

To start finding new ideas we first have to become aware of the limitations of doing things the same way, we must become aware of our mental models and question our beliefs and assumption.

Also understand that innovations themselves are combination’s of what came before, rather than an original invention. It’s discovering things in other boxes and then combining them in a useful way that you get something new. Creativity really is all about discovery!

The fact is solutions are everywhere and the best way to think outside the box is to look in other boxes.

Key Takeaway: Develop a take from anywhere mindset. Borrow ideas from other fields, keep an open mind and cherry pick your way to a new solution.

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