We’ve all been encouraged to do some out-of-the-box thinking in our day. It’s 2013 and the need to be forward thinking and innovative seems to accelerate by the nanosecond. But like “great people skills” and “an eye for detail,” having the ability to think outside the box is painfully overused as a representation of a valuable individual. What I want to know is – if everyone is thinking outside the box, aren’t we all just in a bigger box?

Seth Godin takes a different approach. In his book Linchpin, Godin encourages people not to think outside of the box, but to think right along the edges of the box. He says that this is where the audience is, this is where connection happens, and this is the only place you can actually make an impact. Smack dab in the middle of the box you’re stagnant and boring. Too far outside of the box you’re lonely and crazy. Right along the edge is the sweet spot: this is where life happens.

I love this healthy, realistic approach to provoking thought. It brings the drab, weightless out-of-the-box expression down to something specific and functional. To make any kind of an impact, whether it’s on another individual in conversation, or an audience of thousands staring at you up on stage, if what you’re communicating is too far out of reach for your listeners, your voice is a lost cause. If your language doesn’t resonate with the audience, the words you’re using are useless: no connection is made, nothing happens.

Clients hire us to provide a service, whether it’s developing a medical journal, supporting recruitment in a phase III trial, or branding a PR campaign. If we come up with ideas that are completely out of scope and budget, we’re toast, and if we only slightly tweak a program from 2005, we’re not even considered in the running. But if we can listen to the specifics of what is being asked, and push the frame ever so gently and intelligently into something different and engaging, I think this is where quality work is created and recognized.

Jenna Lange

References

1.     Godin, Seth. (2010). Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated.