What is Thinking Outside the Box?

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  • Written By: Garry Crystal
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2019
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Thinking outside the box is a helpful state of mind when trying to come up with a solution to a problem. It is a way of looking at something and turning it on it on its head in order to come up with a new answer. The technique has been used for many years by businesses and creative types in order to achieve originality. Thinking outside of the standard ways can also bring new life to old ideas.

A great example of thinking outside the box comes from the world of sport. In 1968, a high jumper named Dick Fosbury jumped higher over the bar than anyone had before. Before the Fosbury Flop, the way to jump a bar was to keep the body parallel to the bar. Fosbury set a world record by turning his back on the bar and flipping over it backward. The Fosbury Flop is still widely used today in the high jump.

Thinking outside the box is taking a stand against the normal. Outside the box thinkers are open to new ways of looking at things. They are able to take risks and to look at things from a different perspective. This does not mean designating the old way of doing things as wrong; it simply means not being afraid to try something that seems different.


Business fields such as advertising thrive on people who think outside the box. Such people know that when it comes to selling a product, the world has seen it all before. New, more inventive ways are sought by the most creative people in advertising in order to try and make consumers see things in a different light. By thinking differently and catching people’s imagination, advertising executives latch on to something interesting and new, even if the basic product is old.

Thinking outside the box is like solving a puzzle using an answer no one else has thought of. Using the normal route to a solution is called thinking inside the box and is usually the safest route. To think outside the box, you must be willing to face ridicule and scorn from people who cannot see things from a new perspective. Dick Fosbury may have come up with the Fosbury Flop, but the fact that he put his idea into practice is as important as the idea itself. In many cases, this type of thinking is not an easy option, but some of the most inventive, brilliant and simple ideas have come from people who were willing to take a stand and implement ideas against the advice of others.


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Post 2

Brickback- I just want to say that puzzles like Sudoku, word search,general crossword puzzles, and brain teasers are all good practice exercises in thinking outside the box.

Post 1

I just want to add that there is a program called Audiblox that teaches creative thinking.

The program offers three progressive levels beginning with some more concrete exercises like asking the child to describe a colored object that they are holding.

The next step in the program requires the child to see a shape drawn on a paper and describe in detail all of the things that share the same properties as the drawing.

The last section of the book challenges children to describe something in detail with no visual aids. For example, asking the child to describe things that are blue, or list reasons why a person becomes angry.

These progressive skills teach children how to think creatively and look at many possible options when discussing a problem.

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