Innovation May Lie “Inside The Box”

Defining problems helps

The world is confusing and looking at it incorrectly causes difficulty.

There is an article in Harvard Business Review that addresses that. How you define a problem determines if you can solve it.

There are three ways to look at a problem

  1. From outside the box
  2. As if there is no box
  3. From inside the box.

Many like outside the box. I have been experimenting with there is no box. The article suggests from inside the box.

I found Harvard’s idea surprising at first. 

After some thought, it made sense. The idea is about cues and how they lead us somewhere.

Connecting the dots.

Most of the articles in my blog work like that. In this one the cue is problem solving which I have discussed before, and the box ideas which I have been thinking about.

How many jokes do you know?

If I asked you to tell ten, you might have trouble. If I asked for jokes about bears, or camping, or Sherlock Holmes, you would have less trouble. You might know a hundred if the cues are available.

The article points out that retrieving memory needs a cue.

How many solutions do you know to a given problem? 

Again you don’t know. But, how many times have you seen a solution where the first response is we knew everything we needed years ago. Where is Osama bin Laden? Obvious, once the right combination of facts is seen.

Some day the cure for cancer will be like that. Probably, quantum computing, cold fusion and warm superconductors, too. Aging, alzheimers, have aliens come to earth, and more.

We know far more than we think we know. 

The article points us towards being open about how the connections work. It would likely be helpful if we did the cue process with others who share our data. It is important to be careful about dismissing the connections. You never know how deep the answer lies.

The iPhone was innovative not new. 

Digital music, cellphone, camera, email, the internet, voice recording, and movies all existed, but not together.

Putting them all together in a tiny, elegant container was innovative.

Some answers may be outside the box.

Before going there it might be worth exploring the facts we have. Some insight may happen by gathering cues from things that are in the box.

Our weakness is we like novelty. 

We underestimate the value of human experience.  There are answers in the box that we have not yet found. They may be harder to see.

Thinking we know what we know is a mistake.

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