Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The box is the box is the box

I've been hearing the phrase "think outside the box" for at least a decade now, if not longer. I always attributed it to the little picture puzzle of the 3x3 array of dots, where the object is to cross through every dot in four lines without lifting your pencil. (You have to work outside of the "box" to solve it.)

Well, on the little bookshelf here at work, I just ran across a copy of a book called "C and the Box", which is a dopey little story about a letter C who works in an office (why it isn't just a person, I don't know), and is stuck working in this box until he finds a spring, and he jumps on it and bounces out of the box, yada yada yada. I've found more inspiration inside an expired can of pork and beans. And oh yeah, the book came out in 1993. And it sells at Amazon for eighteen flippin' dollars.

The thing about "thinking outside the box" (shouldn't it be "thinking outside of the box"?) is that it has become so cliché, it's a box in and of itself. Look, I have nothing against being creative and trying new angles of looking at issues, but often times the routines - "boxes" - are in place because they work!