There’s this well-known adage from the business world that states one has to “think outside the box.” This phrase is used whenever there’s a need to challenge assumptions, address a situation with a fresh creative approach, or when old solutions and “tried-and-true” techniques don’t seem to work anymore. “You gotta think outside the box!”

The phrase came from the challenge of the Nine Dots. Take a piece of paper and draw nine dots in a square made up of three rows of three dots each. The challenge? Take a pen or pencil, and connect all nine dots using just four lines and without lifting the pen or pencil from the page. The secret to the solution is that you have to go beyond the boundaries of the square of the nine dots – outside the box.

Even though use of the catchphrase is so common, actual examples of outside the box thinking are as uncommon as common sense. One local example of this can be found in the formation of FIRM (Fair Insurance Rates in Monroe). Rather than simply complain, get petitions signed, and call legislators, FIRM fought Citizens Property Insurance on their own turf. FIRM collected local information and combined it with sound actuarial data to prove that there was no justification for the outrageous rates Keys property owners were being charged. FIRM did what few grassroots groups have been able to do: actually effect policy change at the highest levels of the state – AND they got our rates reduced!

Netflix is an example of a company that was started by people thinking outside the box.

We already had video rental stores, so why would we need or want videos by mail? Two things really helped Netflix take off, the first being the changeover from bulky VHS cassettes to small flat DVD discs. The other contributing factor was late fees charged by rental stores to customers who kept the movies too long. Netflix offered the solution that enabled their customers to rent a certain number of movies and keep them as long as they wanted for one monthly fee. When the customer returned a disc, he could then select another movie to take its place. Simple, friendly, and no late fees.

Haagen-Dazs sounds like some high-dollar imported ice cream from a Scandinavian land. The company was actually started in New York, and its founder wanted a name that would convey an image of an old-world crafted ice cream. Although he did use all fresh ingredients and made a good product, there is nothing intrinsically European or Old World about it. Haagen-Dazs doesn’t even mean anything in whatever language the company’s founder was trying to emulate. Still, thinking outside the box led to one of the most successful premium ice cream brands.

When people, businesses, and even governments stop and challenge closely held assumptions and core beliefs that kind of soul-searching can lead to revelations and ideas that would never have surfaced otherwise. Think outside the box – it’s a better perspective!

KAIR Benefit Event
Please don’t forget – it’s our Early Christmas Shopping for KAIR event at the Tropical Island Outlet on Saturday, October 17 (that’s TODAY!!!). This special event goes from 11 AM until 3 PM, and 50% of all proceeds taken in that day will be donated to KAIR. Please be sure to stop by our shop. I’ll be there to help Marlene, and we look forward to seeing a lot of fun people who want to lend a helping hand and get some holiday shopping out of the way! I look forward to seeing a lot of you there!

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