The “smart people” always suggest that you should “think outside the box.”
And is “thinking outside of the box” even a THING?
I'll answer. But first, what is “the box?” I suggest it's conventional thinking.
If we start there, then thinking inside the conventional box is probably a good thing, 80 percent (or more) of the time.
Why? Because your customers ARE conventional, in most cases. People who buy soap, take out, and automobiles are mostly conventional thinkers.
They don't want something so different that they stand out in a bad way.
For example, do you remember the Yugo? It was an ugly car and screamed, “I don't have enough money to buy an actual car.”
I know, a car's purpose is to take you from A to B. But I'm not sure you could drive a Yugo from point A to B without breaking down and getting laughed at.
Now, I am the last guy to laugh at somebody's unfortunate choices. I get it – you bought a Yugo for reasons.
I have bought a lot of stupid stuff. Stuff that buck “conventional wisdom.” For example, I bought a “Super VHS” tape deck back in the day. It cost me $1,000 and lasted about two years (it broke and the repair shop could not fix it after repeated tries and $$$), which was about 730 days longer than the format lasted.
I also wanted a reel-to-reel tape deck. (Something about me and tape decks…)
In fact, I drove 40 miles multiple times to a little camera shop in Stockton, California, to finally buy the lowest-end Nakamichi cassette deck. It was three heads! That one cost me $700. This was about a year before CDs came out.
I'm lying. CDs were already out. But I thought nobody will ever put a CD player in a car!
Sometimes, though, when you're stymied, breaking the thought process away from logic and reason and conventional thinking can get you the breakthrough you need.
So it's not an entirely wasteful thing to think outside the box. It's just that most time, the box is alright. It's just YOU who needs some shaking up.
Think outside the box or think different?
Now, if you've been with me long enough, you know I loathe Apple. But let me tell you a story.
Back in the '90s, I went to work (very briefly) for now-defunct CompUSA. Around that same time, they inked a deal with Apple where they'd build a special part of the store that was to be the beginnings of the Apple Stores we see all over the planet now.
And their tagline at that time was, “Think different.”
I hated that slogan. It should have been “Think differently!” damn it.
But Apple's message was not lost on me. They did think differently. They invented the smart phone (I know some of you will say they didn't, but until the first iPhone, nobody gave a shit about a little brick you could hold in your hand, put to your hear, and have a phone convo).
The iPhone revolutionized the industry. More importantly, it put Apple on the map again. They are now one of the most successful companies in the world, ever.
They thought different (or differently).
I don't know if they thought outside the box, but they kind of abandoned how everybody else was designing phones and went down their merry path.
Now, about all you see in the mobile phone space is smart phones that look just like the iPhone.
The iPhone is, interestingly, a box. It's quite literally shaped like a box. It's the new box.
Who is going to think outside that box?
Time will tell.