In this beloved country of ours, we love keeping to the norm. I wouldn’t know whether to take this as an advantage or disadvantage.
It is one of those dilemmas where you cannot insist on dos and don’ts, lest you get it totally wrong; a case where one’s discretion is paramount in taking the right decision at the right time.
The problem is that we fear taking risks or responsibility for actions that bend the rules a little.
For that matter, we comfortably keep within a tight world that does not require quick thinking and innovativeness. Probably you have been in a situation or discussion during which someone brings out a brilliant idea or new concept, only to be dampened by ‘ntibishoboka!’, in other words, ‘that will never work!’
This is such a common phenomenon among Rwandans, especially when it comes to laid-out policies. But who said that having a policy limits new concepts and ideas?
This brings out the whole idea of ‘thinking outside the box’, a concept aimed at coming up with creative ways to solve problems.
One time while complaining about something (I am an unapologetic complainer); my niece asked me if I had read the book on ‘who stole my cheese?’
Apparently, a number of people living in some place owned a lot of cheese that no one ever thought of stealing or removing. One time though, it started disappearing bit by bit, creating a daily hue and cry on who was stealing the cheese.
Some two mice on the other hand took a different approach. On seeing their cheese disappear, they ventured out to look for more.
Whether it was stolen or not, I wouldn’t know, but it turned out that their venture brought in better and tastier cheese than the one originally stored. While everyone else was busy grumbling, the mice had already built up another store of lovely cheese.
So who are ‘in-box thinkers’? Ed Banarki, Canadaone Magazine, describes them as people who find it difficult to recognize the quality of idea, and who rarely invest time to turn a to turn a mediocre solution into a great solution, and are often unaware that they drain the enthusiasm and passion of innovative thinkers when they kill their innovative ideas.
It further shows that even great creative people can become in-the-box thinkers when they stop trying. Apathy and indifference can turn an innovator into an in-the-box thinker.
One time while talking to some students at the Ingando (civic training) at Nkumba, I challenged them to join nine dots with one line, a trick that is frequently taught when training on innovativeness.
As droves of students brought me their failed attempts, one young man drew me close, confidently wagging his finger in front of my eyes…’I’ve tried all options, it is impossible to join these dots!’.
Had impossibility been the case, then there wouldn’t be planes flying in the skies, or people landing on the moon, or attempts being made to land on Mars for that matter.
When thinking outside the box, you believe that impossibilities can happen; there is a willingness to venture into the unknown, make mistakes, and come out all the more stronger and wiser.
Steve Gillman, a researcher on brain-power, believes it begins by asking ‘what if?”, making absurd assumptions, and then finding ways to make sense of them.
He gave an example of a major liquor brand that was faltering and couldn’t seem to boost sales. Promotions, lowering the price, getting better shelf placement, were the “in the box” solutions until someone challenged the assumptions, by asking “What if we stopped the promotions and just raised the price?”
The sales soon doubled since most people purchase some types of liquor as a gift, and don’t want to seem cheap when buying one.
In trying to encourage innovativeness therefore, let’s once again borrow from Ed Bernacki’s article in the Canadaone Magazine on thinking outside the box.
He mentions that attributes on positive thinking include a willingness to take new perspectives to day-to-day work; an openness to do different things and differently; focusing on the value of finding new ideas and acting on them; striving to create value in new ways; listening to others; and supporting and respecting others when they come up with new ideas.
It requires openness to new ways of seeing the world and a willingness to explore. Out-of-the box thinkers know that new ideas need nurturing and support.
They also know that having an idea is good but acting on it is more important. Results are what count.
Innovation: Thinking Outside The Box, by Steven Gillman