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Thinking in New Boxes: A New Paradigm for Business Creativity Hardcover – September 10, 2013

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Editorial Reviews


Thinking in New Boxes is a five-step guide that leverages the authors’ deep understanding of human nature to enable readers to overcome their limitations and both imagine and create their own futures. This book is a must-read for people living and working in today’s competitive environment.”—Ray O. Johnson, Ph.D., chief technology officer, Lockheed Martin
Thinking In New Boxes discusses what I believe to be one of the fundamental shifts all companies/brands need to be thinking about: how to think creatively, in order to innovate and differentiate our brands. We need to thrive and lead in a world of accelerating change and this book challenges us to even greater creativity in our thinking. One of the best business books I’ve read in a long time.”—Jennifer Fox, CEO, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
“As impressive as teaching new tricks to old dogs, Thinking in New Boxes is both inspirational and practical—a comprehensive,  step-by-step guide to sharpening one’s wits in order to harness creativity in the workplace.”—Peter Gelb, general manager, Metropolitan Opera
“Offers excellent suggestions for thinking creatively and creating a sustainable work culture in the department and in one’s organization . . . a valuable tool for employees and managers of all institutions.”—Journal of Applied Management and Entrepreneurship
An imaginative, proactive, and creative approach to problem solving that prospects for new ideas rather than trying to predict the future.”—Booklist

“Psychology has shown us that there’s no such thing as ‘thinking outside the box.’ The mind always thinks in boxes, big and small, and the key to creativity is finding and creating the right boxes to think with. This practical book draws out the implications of this research, and it is a joy to read. I loved the many real-world examples, drawn from the authors’ many years of consulting for BCG.”—Keith Sawyer, Ph.D., Author of Zig Zag: The Surprising Path to Greater Creativity

"Brilliantly original and relentlessly practical, Thinking in New Boxes brings a truly fresh approach to the eternal question of how do I get more – and better – ideas. It not only challenges the readers to “think differently”, but also shows them how.  It is that rare business book actually  worth reading cover to cover."—Jim Andrew, Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer, Chairman Sustainability Board, EVP and Member of the Executive Committee, Royal Philips

"The pinnacle resource for any business or organization, Thinking in New Boxes is a straightforward roadmap on mastering the art of futurist leadership and understanding the intersections between creativity, innovation and re-invention.  A well thought out approach and a hands-down, must read for anyone tirelessly in pursuit of achieving success in an ever evolving and rapidly changing global business ecosystem."—Dr. Mehmood Khan, chief scientific officer, PepsiCo

About the Author

Luc de Brabandere is a fellow and a senior advisor in the Paris office of The Boston Consulting Group. He leads strategic seminars with boards, senior executives, and managers from a wide range of companies looking to develop new visions, new products and services, and long-term scenarios to prepare for the future. He is the author or co-author of nine books, including The Forgotten Half of Change: Achieving Greater Creativity Through Changes in Perception, and a regular columnist for various newspapers in France and Belgium. Prior to joining BCG, he was the general manager of the Brussels Stock Exchange.
Alan Iny is the senior specialist for creativity and scenarios at The Boston Consulting Group. He has trained thousands of executives and BCG consultants, runs a wide range of workshops across industries, and speaks around the world about coming up with product, service, and other ideas, developing a new strategic vision, and thinking creatively about the future. Before joining BCG in 2003, he earned an MBA from Columbia Business School and an honors BSc from McGill University in mathematics and management. Iny lives in New York with his wife and daughter.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (September 10, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812992954
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812992953
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (68 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #209,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Srikumar S. Rao VINE VOICE on September 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Are you tired of being exhorted to 'think outside the box'? I know that I am!

What, exactly, is this 'box' that I am supposed to think outside of? de brabandere and Iny postulate that the box is actually a mental model we have and embedded in this is all manner of assumptions, opinions, conjectures and beliefs. In other words, all our thinking is contextual. We ALWAYS think in a context and this is shaped by our life experience and the conditionings we have been subject to.

Since the context is the box and we think in contexts the way to be creative is to Think in New Boxes and hence the title of the book. Neat way of looking at it but not an earth shattering revelation. What makes the book valuable is that they go into greater detail. It is difficult to think outside the box and virtually impossible to do so on command. They show you many different ways of creating new boxes. For example, complete the sentence "An example of a bird is..." Odds are that you could do this easily and you drew from a sample of names you knew were birds like eagle or sparrow.

Now complete the sentence "A bird is an example of..." Now it gets more complicated. Did you come up with 'flying creature'? Or 'feathered animal'? How about 'something I like to roast and eat'? (UGH!)

The former is an example of deductive reasoning and the latter of inductive reasoning and the latter generally gives you richer and different ways of looking at any situation. It helps you create new boxes more easily.

The authors show you how you create boxes and you do this with limited data. Which company, for example, does not belong in this list: Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, American Express, Pfizer?
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Michael Taylor TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Thinking In New Boxes" by Luc De Brabandere and Alan Iny is a good title for anyone wanting to improve their creativity in a business setting. While focusing on business, the suggestions may be applied to other areas of your life. Indeed, with a global economy, the business that thinks and acts creatively stands a better chance of surviving. The authors suggest a five-step plan for the creative process:

1. Doubt Everything
2. Probe the Possible
3. Diverge
4. Converge
5. Reevaluate Relentlessly

The book is around 300 pages and covers such points as:

1. Any idea, no matter how brilliant, will eventually need to be replaced.
2. Deductive vs. inductive thinking.
3. Creativity is possible when you are humble about your existing approach to thinking about things.
4. 3 essential tasks for opening your mind for creativity.
5. The best way to find solutions is to generate a range of possibilities and test them instead of just trying to confirm your first hypothesis.
6. Most of our "aha" moments come when we soak in as much information as possible instead of depending on "pie in the sky" notions.
7. Using divergence (overcoming discomfort) to stretch yourself and see new perspectives.
8. Using convergence to prioritize decisions to work on the best ideas yo have developed.
9. Suggestions for getting insights from your customers that can help your business.
10. Be sure to consistently evaluate how your way of thinking helps you or may hold you back.
11. Examples of businesses using creativity.

The authors, well-educated and possessing several years of business experience, thankfully write in an engaging and easily understandable style.

Good read for anyone needing suggestions or ways of looking at things in a business setting (although it could be used in other areas of life also).

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Afia TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The authors tackled a difficult subject and really delivered. Everything said about thinking outside the box from the 60s and then turned into the mantra of business schools in the 90s led me to believe it was all in vain. Nothing new had been added since the mid-90s and it seemed nothing would be until this book was published.

Thinking in new boxes replaces thinking outside the box. It annihilates "outside the box," and we're better off this way. Nobody has to be told anymore to start thinking outside the box. If the first box was defined, the next one can be and so on until there's no extraterrestrial thoughts behind the curtain.

"Think in a new box" simply means to use at least one of the processes discovered/identified by the authors to go beyond where we were when we were stuck in some respect. These processes are accessible to all and there's no justification for remaining stuck indefinitely. The processes require doing what is not easy to do, namely to remain professionally skeptical, to generate options when we don't feel it necessary, and to keep practicing the process no matter what.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By L. M. Keefer TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you, or your company, work with innovation, this book might be invaluable to you. It chronicles how to structure a process of thinking which forwards creativity or innovation. It is not a jumble of creative exercises for you to try to jump start innovation. It is a process which The Boston Consulting Group uses with clients to create innovative products and/or services. You can pay The Boston Consulting Group thousands of dollars to facilitate these exercises with your company, or you can read this book to understand the innovation sequence. Or do both, if you're fortunate. Experts say we have morphed from the Agricultural, Industrial, and Information Ages to the Innovation Age. Innovate or die they imply. This book tells you how to innovate.

The authors work fairly exclusively with innovation with clients. Their credentials are impressive: Luc De Brabandere leads strategic seminars in the Paris office of The Boston Consulting Group with boards and executives to develop "new visions, new products, services and long-term scenarios to prepare for the future". He has written nine books. Co-author Alan Iny is the global topic expert for creativity and scenario planning at The Boston Consulting Group based in New York. This isn't just beautiful theory for the authors - they deal with the messy reality of innovation and guiding clients through it.

This book teaches strategic creativity or "thinking in new boxes". This involves embracing complexity, navigating uncertainty and preparing for the inevitable disruptions. It is a creative process they stress. Boxes they define as mental models. Thinking in new boxes is more than just "thinking out of the box." Their process joins "pragmatic analysis with the free-flowing generation of ideas" they tell us.
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