Career & Leadership Market Research | Review #2


Why Thinking Out of The Box Is The Wrong Way to Approach Innovation
By Chuck Swoboda

Based on the article published in, on 3rd August 2020

Review Summary by Varsha Roy
Market Research Analyst, Adaptive Instruction

I am Varsha Roy. I am a Software Engineer with 6 years of IT experience from Mumbai. I currently work as a Freelance Book Blogger and own a page on Instagram and a website called Inside A Book. I am also a blogger with Harper Collins India and Hay House India. I also write detailed and well researched blog posts and summaries of research papers for Adaptive Instruction.

This is a summary of the research article ‘Why thinking out of the box is the wrong way to approach innovation’ by Chuck Swoboda, Innovator-in-residence at Marquette University and President of Cape Point Advisors. He retired as chairman and CEO of Cree, Inc. in 2017. This article tries to explain why thinking out of the box is a limiting approach to innovation.

‘Thinking out of the box’ means to not think of the obvious things but to think beyond them or other than them. This concept originated with the study of creativity by Psychologist J.P. Guilford. The study involved a nine-dot puzzle and the research subjects had to connect all nine dots using just four straight lines without lifting their pencil from the page. The imaginary square was the limiting thing in solving the puzzle and the correct solution required them to draw lines that extend beyond the area defined by the dots. Hence the term ‘Thinking out of the box’ was derived. But the term creates an unintended boundary that prevents seeing from what really might be possible. As in the case of the research the participants assumed that the dots on the paper represented a box within which they had to try to solve but that wasn’t the case; it was just their assumption. Thus, we must destroy completely any ‘imaginary box’ we assume that limits our thinking, which then forces us to make a better choice.

The author substantiates through examples in detail to not make any new critical assumption and that to set the box on fire is the way to truly achieve success.

Link to the original publication:
Why ‘Thinking Outside The Box’ Is The Wrong Way To Approach Innovation