Have you ever heard of working outside the box? Many people talk about this concept in regards to creativity or change management, but does anyone ever explain what the box is or why it exists in the first place?
I define the box as the rules, standards, best practices, guidelines, and financial expectations used in conducting a business. These are the mechanical and scientific practices of every business that generate the company’s success. Simply stated, these are the tried and true rules and practices that drive the success of a company. Companies create the box so employees have a set of guidelines, expectations, and financial targets to succeed in their jobs and drive company performance.
Allowing people to “work outside the box” is a dangerous and risky endeavor; it challenges the tried and true practices that are foundational to a company. Yet, working outside the box, is critical in driving transformational change and long-term growth. So, how can companies allow this to occur and what is necessary to work outside the box?
My experience has shown that before you can work outside the box, you must “Master the Box”. You must understanding the intent and expected outcome for every rule, regulation, and process and how it impacts each operating division and financial goal at the highest level. Most importantly, “working outside the box should never risk the integrity of the box”.
New ideas and strategies are typically led by your Mavericks, “creative thinkers”, allow them room to operate, but insure they never waiver on maintaining the rigid disciplines of “the box”, the established values and goals of the company. Mentoring, Teamwork and Collaborative Efforts are great ways to support working outside the box, insuring that new ideas achieve established goals and the long term direction of the company.
Every division within a company has its own unique role to play as a part of the whole company. Each divisional role may have different requirements and goals. Only by understanding all of the roles and the total set of requirements and goals at the highest level are you fully able to work cross functionally and begin to effectively reach outside the box.