Thinking Outside The Box

nine dots

Thinking outside the box‘ is to think differently, unconventionally or from a new perspective. This is sometimes called a process of lateral thought. As catchphrase, or cliché, it has become widely used in business environments, especially by management consultants and executive coaches, and has spawned a number of advertising slogans. To think outside the box is to look further and to try not thinking of the obvious things, but to try thinking beyond them.

The origins of the phrase are obscure; but it was popularized in part because of a nine-dot puzzle, which British author, John Adair claims to have introduced in 1969. The puzzle proposed an intellectual challenge—to connect the dots by drawing four straight, continuous lines that pass through each of the nine dots, and never lifting the pencil from the paper. The conundrum is easily resolved, but only if you draw the lines outside the confines of the square area defined by the nine dots themselves.

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