What’s in this “Box”?

In my last  four consulting engagements, I’ve been asked to help my client  ”Think out of the box.”   So we did.  We abandoned the old and ushered in something different–which was a successful strategy in all four cases.   But now I think I may have been too cavalier; had I approached this more thoughtfully, we may have been even more successful!

Dan Palotta, an expert in innovation for nonprofits, recently blogged about this.  He believes that you can’t think out of the box without giving some serious thought to thinking about the box itself.   If you neglect ‘the box,’ you can’t really learn why it didn’t work in the first place.   So figure out the box you’re in. If you try to get out before you understand the box’s parameters, you’ll just stay stuck inside of it. And that’s exactly what it wants.

Case in point: One of my clients was having trouble recruiting clients for a new graduate program.  So, thinking out of the box, we moved to a more aggressive, multichannel recruiting strategy.  And while enrollment did increase–to my client’s infinite satisfaction–something was bothering me.   We had moved forward with a new recruitment program without carefully reflecting why enrollments were low (the box).  Once we crawled back into the box and examined the problem, we realized the curriculum itself was the problem–not the enrollment method!   I suspect that once the curriculum is tweaked and the new recruiting strategy is re-implemented, enrollments will surpass all expectations!

I encourage you to read Dan’s blog posting; he makes some really cogent points about thinking creatively and knowing the difference between ‘change’ and ‘transformation.’








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