Rethinking: “Think out of the box”

I remember passing by a blog article on Wall Street Journal, in which the overuse of buzz-words employed in corporate marketing materials and many textbooks is strongly criticized, and then, a link embedded in this post has lead me to another blog, which listed down hundreds of buzz-words which are regurgitated by marketers all over the world. Please kindly find the link here. This list has surprised me somehow as I am kind of addictive to using these words if possible when composing marketing materials in my previous companies. I used to employ many dazzling words for the newsletters like “innovative”, ” state-of-the-arts”, or “leading” and sometimes really wondered if these words do work in attracting attendees to the event. Things like the measurement for the efficiency of marketing materials do bother me a lot when making my choice of being a marketer or being with another career.

However, I do not intend of writing about the use of buzzwords here. In fact, I have not had any idea of using buzzwords nonsense or not. I think that buzzword does help customers find that marketing materials to be professional in wording and editing.

The main topic of today’s post is: “Rethinking: Think out of the box

“Think out of the box” is criticized on Wall Street Journal for a lame and buzz word that is overused by many people nowadays. They argue, hey, so why do you have to think out of the box? In fact, there is no box at all.

I really love the idea of that in fact there is no box at all. Coming back the old times, when there were lots of standards set up and people had to rely on them to make decisions, I supposed there must have been some pioneers initiating the ideas of breaking the rules to solve the problems in a flexible way. However, as time goes by, when lots of barriers have been lifted down and their next generation is still crazy of thinking “how to get out of the box” when they face with a problem, and the idea of “trying to think out of the box” is truly another box hovering in their minds. To be more detailed, so why should we think out of the box when the box is good enough to solve our current problem? Some problems are just simple to be solved by following the current principles and no need to change. Sometimes, people try to complicate the problems by “over-thinking out of the box” and they may, in fact, “reinvent the wheel”.

Another problem of these people is that they try to judge other people to be of their lower value if these people, unfortunately, are caught to “think within the box”.

I have a friend. He usually criticizes all things like GPA, or kind of standardized tests like IELTS, GMAT, GRE, LSAT, SAT and he did not believe in college education for equipping people with necessary skills for work after graduation. He is always proud of being a bad performer at university but a dynamic student with lots of real working experience. I agree that these standardized tests are not much reliable assessment of one’s capability in handling real life problems, however, these tests are still somehow useful measurement of how ones have try their best at college or their academic ability. If he takes pride in his effort expended on part-time jobs during college time, I think that it is not wrong if others take pride in their academic achievement. Academic stuff, to lots of people, may be like a box, and it does not help much in real life career. However, if they just rethink for a while, are they sure that these experiences could be employed in every case? I remember my teacher used to say that experience may be right at the moment but it is not guaranteed to be right in the  future. Life is evolving every second and nothing stays unchanged. His current experience may be the future “box” that he has to overcome in the future.

Therefore, in my opinion, we don’t say “think out of the box” because in fact, there exists no box at all. Even there exists one. Just think of how to use the box or throw the box away if you find it does not help. Standards, standardized tests, or academic learning are not wrong but it is the way we employ them that counts.


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