It's easier for people to think outside the box, when the box doesn’t exist.You know when you repaint a room a different colour, and the first coat of the new fresh paint doesn’t look quite as you expected. You’re pretty sure it will be OK, but until you get the rest of the paint on you won’t know.

Last week, with our annual conference looming and our strategy so fresh I wasn’t sure how it would look, I decided I needed some icons/logos for our strategy.

I wanted something different, risky and evocative that would help my team grasp these new ideas.

I wanted hip.

I wanted fresh.

So, I set up a gig on a marketing design platform, so that I could get something completely new.

And I waited the 3 days … with anticipation… excited… and when the gig finally arrived it looked exactly like something we would do 🙁 … (even had our logo in it!)

Not hip. Not evocative. Not fresh.

Not usable.

The designer had given me exactly what I asked for, but nothing like what I wanted.

And it was my fault!

In my desire to give a full brief of the work, I had included links to our website and current values. This quest to be helpful created a box. A frame in which he would work. And that frame along with his desire to please, forced his design into a small box.

That small box killed creativity.

We do this often as leaders.

Unknowingly, we over-define outcomes and rules and expectations. We frame tasks so strongly they force our team to work in boxes.

And then we wonder why people aren’t creative. Why they don’t think outside the box.

It’s easier for people to think outside the box, if the box doesn’t exist.