The one-sentence summary

If you want to think in new boxes, doubt everything, probe the possible, diverge, converge, and then re-evaluate relentlessly.


  • Thinking ‘outside the box’ isn’t the answer. True ingenuity needs structure, hard analysis, and bold brainstorming.
  • That means thinking in new boxes. A box is a mental model –a construction that exists purely within you, and which dictates how you view the world.
  • Inductive thinking involves moving from observed fragmented details to a connected view, a binding principle, hypothesis, or box.
  • Deductive thinking involves applying such a framework to observed details to see if the box has the capacity to interpret them. Logic is the science of deduction.
  • A Eureka moment is when you suddenly realise how to shift your perception.
  • A Caramba moment is when you realise one or more of your boxes (set of assumptions) are out of date. (A Spanish expression of surprise).
  • Re-examine your approach to business creativity in five steps:

1. Doubt everything: Challenge your current perspectives.

2. Probe the possible: Explore the options around you.

3. Diverge: Generate many new and exciting ideas, even if they seem absurd.

4. Converge: Evaluate and select ideas that will drive breakthrough results.

5. Re-evaluate: relentlessly. No idea is good forever.


  • To get the process rolling you need to create a climate of doubt, list and then challenge your current boxes, and set out a new set of boxes to investigate. Conduct a beliefs audit:
  • What are the inherent assumptions in your day-to-day work?
  • What has your organisation never feared that could destroy it?
  • If your company didn’t exist, what difference would it make?
  • Prospective thinking asks: What might or could happen? What should I do about it?
  • Boiling frogs are evolving situations that are slow and subtle (named after the spurious notion that a frog will fail to leap out of a boiling pot if the temperature is raised very gradually).
  • Describe your company or product using 5 words. Now try doing it without those words. You may create a new box.
  • “Yes and…” is productive. “Yes but…” is not.
  • “The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away.” Linus Pauling


  • There is a recurring and somewhat annoying mythical company called Ultragames that keeps being used as a working example.
  • The authors are from Boston Consulting Group, so there is an element of ‘brochure’ here.