Article by: Mauricio Manhaes, Dr.
No. You cannot think "outside of the box." Thinking outside of the box has become such a cliché in business that people rarely question what it means. Actually you can’t think “outside of the box.” - nobody can. What happens, most of the time, is that people don’t even explore their own ‘boxes’. If and when they do, it feels like going ‘outside’… but that’s a fallacy.
In fact, there is no ‘outside’ of the box: we cannot be ‘outside’ of ourselves. Hans-Georg Gadamer’s concept of the “distorting mirror” offers a valuable argument to discuss the relation between minds and co-creation frameworks (Gadamer, 2004, p. 278):
The self-awareness of the individual is only a flickering in the closed circuits of historical life. That is why the prejudices of the individual, far more than his judgments, constitute the historical reality of his being. (Italics are from the original text)
It follows that every person starts the process of understanding from a particular historical vantage point (the “box”). All the experiences that a person has gone through in his/her life leave an indelible mark on their history and mind. Let’s call this a mental ‘box’. It’s from this ‘box’ that a person understands themselves and everything else beyond.
Outside the box?
What is supposed to happen when someone urges others to think outside the box? A good answer would be: To create new knowledge! It’s expected that people can find creative pathways to solve problems or conquer obstacles that seemed impossible based on previous perspectives. These goals can only be attained by creating new knowledge: by finding new ways of augmenting the potential to act, in philosophical terms.
So how is knowledge created? To understand how this thing happens, you have to know that
Knowledge is created in the spiral that goes through seemingly antithetical concepts such as order and chaos, micro and macro, part and whole, mind and body, tacit and explicit, self and other, deduction and induction, and creativity and efficiency. (Nonaka & Toyama, 2003, p. 02)
Knowledge is created through friction. Not fiction. But, abrasive friction! Thus, my friend, you can only create knowledge when you connect with people that are different to you. It can be through reading, watching videos or good old social interactions. But you have to really connect, to build a solid bridge between you and others.
Bridges Between the Different
Ok. You will never be able to get outside of your ‘box’. But you can explore it better and maybe even expand it. To do that it’s necessary to connect boxes. As a matter of fact, it is the only way. And there is a beautiful and precise metaphor for that: to build bridges between the different. Based on the concept of a hermeneutical arc (Ricoeur, 2007, p. 121), this generative metaphor is inspired by the French Philosopher Paul Ricoeur and his
insistence ‘on building bridges between concepts that are otherwise seemingly incompatible and between which there might be controversy.’ (Jahnke, 2010, p. 106)
So, there is no outside of the box in the same way that there is no lonely creation of knowledge. In order to create a truly new thing you have to connect your box with other boxes – specifically boxes that are a lot different to your own.
And that is the challenge and secret of co-creation. It serves nothing to start a “co-creation session” if all participants are similar. This is merely a “confirmation session;” a session that will confirm beliefs about how things should be and be done. It will not advance understandings of how things could be or could be done.
The best way to have a co-creation session is by breaking some myths about innovation teams.
Article Taken From: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20141015101956-27054459-there-is-nothing-outside-of-the-box-the-secret-of-co-creation