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Try thinking inside the box because the major constraints you work with are not going away

with 3 comments

“Think outside the box” is the phase used for several decades to encourage creative thinking.

Your outside-the-box thinking won’t make the limits of your staffing, dollar resources, and competitive challenges go away. Won’t do anything to expand the day beyond 24 hours either.

Justin Lathrop suggests we should Stop Thinking Outside the Box.

He pondered this tweet from Bobby Gruenewald at Catalyst Conference:

Innovation comes from ‘thinking inside the box;’ believing God has given you everything you need despite constraints.”

Mr. Lathrop points out four dangers of trying to think outside the box. We can:

    • Open ourselves up to constantly complaining about our restraints

    • Are tempted to focus too much on creating the next big thing

    • Might become guilty of only dreaming and never doing

    • Start to rely on our ideas and strengths instead of God

There is danger here in becoming immobilized by our constraints. We can fall into the trap that we could do great things outside the box if only.

Seth Godin points out in Maybe next year…

Maybe next year…

  • The economy will be going gangbusters
  • Your knowledge will reach critical mass …
  • Your family situation will be stable
  • The competition will stop innovating …

…and then you can implement that great plan.

Until then you are stuck.

The highest creativity is to do things within our current constraints. Mr. Lathrop suggests when we start thinking that way we:

    • Look for solutions or improvements to current restraints

    • Trust God and everything He’s given us

    • Are more prone to use the talents and abilities God has given us

    • Free ourselves to make a real impact and accomplish great things

The core of his point here is that maybe, just maybe, God will get the credit if we get creative inside our current constraints.

Perhaps we should dream and plan for wonderful things leaning on God and then work within our current constraints.

I’m seeing this concept in my life now.

Two examples.

First, can’t go into details, but at my church we are thinking inside the box of our current constraints and great things are happening. God is moving and we are doing things inside the box. It’s obvious to me that it is God who is making things happen. And He is doing it inside our current constraints.

Second, again no details, but I’ve got some great ideas for increasing my impact in the nonprofit community but those ideas are way beyond certain resource constraints. As a result those nifty ideas aren’t going anywhere. Maybe next year…

Oh, wait, that’s what Mr. Godin was warning about. I probably need to figure out how to get my creative thinking back inside the box.

My other posts exploring the limits of thinking outside the box:

Written by Jim Ulvog

March 28, 2013, 8:40 am at 8:40 am

Posted in Pondering

3 Responses

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  1. Thanks for sharing this. Your blog looks great.

    Justin Lathrop (@justinlathrop)

    March 28, 2013, 8:42 am at 8:42 am

    • You are welcome. You had great insight – God can get the glory when we work inside our constraints.

      Jim Ulvog

      March 28, 2013, 9:37 am at 9:37 am

  2. […] Try thinking inside the box because the major constraints you work with are not going away explores the idea that maybe we need to rely on God as we work inside the constraints we have. Maybe God has already given us what we need. […]


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