‘Out of the box’ thinking. How big is this box?

This an oft repeated cliche to encourage people to think differently. But it has been abused so much that its verbal definition has become very murky.

Simply put, anything different or out of the ordinary, contrary to accepted norms and processess can be defined as ‘Out of the box’. This definition was sufficient in the past. But todays connected world has forced us to do a rethink.

Earlier the box in reference was limited to your family or friends circle, town, state, college or country. Your box was very, very small, local and contained. It was easy to be applauded as an innovator if you just voiced an idea you had read in an obscure publication to a group who hadnt. Believe me. I have been doing it for ages. This was an era when information was at a premium. Those who had acquired it, brandised it and encashed on it.

But try that today and you will see everyone, including your veggie vendor, reaching for their smartphones to verify the veracity of your claim. Google has made life tougher for those who try to modify, embelish, tweak, plagiarize and rechristen ideas and try to pass it off as their own innovation.

I would like to use two photographs to define this concept specifically in the Indian context.

open cardboard box isolated on white background - rendering
Out of the box – Indian context



matrushka dolls
Matryoshka – nested russian dolls

A word of caution for all those Indians who carelessly refer to all and sundry as innovations.

Indians have to start competing with the world. It is no longer sufficient to copy an old idea, Indianize it and pass it off as an innovation for a local audience. Every idea and concept and action will be judged on a global scale. Maybe not by Indians, but the world is watching and maybe snickering.