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Thinking Outside the Box
But it's such a good box
People do well when they are in their comfort zone.
The challenge is to get “box-centric” people to think beyond the next task or deadline, to get them to think beyond the “process” level to consider things at the “concept” level. If you “take them out of their comfort zone,” they will lose confidence and often will go silent. Instead, help them expand their comfort zone.
Start small, and then scale. Give them prompts that get them thinking beyond the immediate task. “Is there a better/faster/more-logical way to get the same results than the current process?”
Help them consider ways to apply their current competencies to other areas. “This works well when we are working on Project X. Would the method also transfer to Project Y? What steps would we need to do to adapt it? Are there other types of projects where it might also work?”
Define the task as “Big Picture thinking” to get them on-task, but outside the box. “The meeting on Monday will help define the firm’s strategic initiatives for the next two years. Come with ideas to pitch for growth opportunities. For example, where can we go bigger? Where can we increase production? What geographic regions could we enter for an expansion?”
We understand that many people need to feel confident to try new things. For many people, that confidence comes from having successful previous experiences. Give them opportunities and encouragement, and then scale up as they grow their competency and confidence.