Think Out of the Box: A book review by Bob Morris

Think out of boxThink Out of the Box
Mike Vance and Diane Deacon
Career Press (1995)

A classic source for thinking more clearly and making better decisions

I have just re-read two books co-authored by Mike Vance and Diane Deacon. This one and Creating Mega Results: A proven creative process for achieving record-breaking success. Some of the material in it is dated in terms of relevance to today’s global marketplace but, that said, the basic principles that Deacon and Vance affirm are timeless, relevant to almost any organization, whatever its size and nature may be.

For example, Vance and Deacon stress the importance of having a vision, “a crucial component in the formula for success. They also suggest – and I agree: “What we do is determined by what we are. What we are is determined by what we think. What we think is determined by what we experience. What we experience is determined by what awe are exposed to and what we do with that exposure.”

They provide a number of mini-profiles of creative geniuses:

o Norman Brinker (Pages 31-34)
o Thomas Edison (60-62)
o Louis L’Amour (79-81)
o Frank Lloyd Wright (92-94)
o Dr. Vernon Luck (121-124)
o R. Buckminster Fuller (137-140)
o A.C. (Mike) Markkula (152-153)
o Jack Welch (171-173)
o Walt Disney (185-193)

According to Wikipedia, the concept of “thinking outside the box” is generally credited to a nine-dot puzzle “which John Adair claims to have introduced in 1969. Thinking outside the box (also thinking out of the box or thinking beyond the box) is a metaphor that means to think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective. This phrase often refers to novel or creative thinking. The term is thought to derive from management consultants in the 1970s and 1980s challenging their clients to solve the ‘nine dots’ puzzle, whose solution requires some lateral thinking.”

My own take is that lateral or alternative perspectives on problems or questions often expedite resolving them. Back in the days when I spent most of my time in an office interacting with colleagues and clients frequently, there were very serious issues to be addressed and I found that my thinking about them was easier and better during a weekend, away from the office. In essence, the “box” to which Vance and Deacon is a mindset, not a location. It is imperative, however, that efforts made to solve the right problem or answer the right question. As Peter Drucker wisely observed decades ago, “There is surely nothing quite so useless as doing with great efficiency what should not be done at all.” Mike Vance and Diane Deacon can help those who read this book to avoid making that mistake.

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NOTE: I will now take a much-needed break, resuming my posts on January 4, 2016.

Meanwhile, best wishes for a joyous and blessed holiday season.

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