Thinking Outside the Box

Do you think outside the box?

Since the 1960s (some say earlier), the nine-dot puzzle above has been used as a way to expand people’s thinking and help them look beyond the expected paradigms in new and creative ways. How?

Well, when you see this diagram, it’s human nature to see a box or square shape. (Our brains have a natural tendency to look for recognisable patterns, like when you look up into the sky and see a cloud that suggests a certain shape.) It’s why we look at the Moon and see a friendly face.

The problem is that if you see a box, your thinking then tends to lock into its four sides. Perhaps appropriately, it becomes an enclosure. The problem is there is no way to solve the problem once you become fixed on that perspective.

The solution (warning: spoiler alert) is to think outside the box. By expanding your thinking beyond the four sides of the square into the space that surrounds it, new possibilities suggest themselves. Think what happens when you draw a line beyond the dots and create new angles. (Click here if you’d like to see a solution.)

From this simple test, you can start to see how lateral thinking works: that is, thinking beyond what you first think you see in front of you.

That’s what we mean when we say we think outside the box. Quite literally, in our case. Because we’ll always try to use our outside perspective to help you imagine a better solution for your enclosures.