Box 3 Thinking

InnovationCompassSmToday’s post is not my average post talking about lean concepts and examples of how I see these concepts used in industries ranging from manufacturing to healthcare, nonprofits and government.

Today I want to share with my readers the good fortune I had last week.  I had the opportunity to observe a talk by a gentleman who has been ranked #3 in the list of Greatest Business Thinkers of our time.  He has written books that have been #1 in the Wall Street Journal Best Sellers list.  I am talking about Vijay Govindarajan (VG).  His talk was a treat!

He is a world-renowned expert in the innovation arena and his talk was called “Strategy Is Innovation“.  He states that there are three “boxes” of thinking:  “Box 1” – is the Operational thinking and “Box 2” and “Box 3” are the more “out there” kind of thinking.  For any organization to not just survive in the future, but to be the world leader in its industry, they must have “Box 3” thinking right now.

Interestingly enough, he mentions that Lean, Six Sigma, Operational Excellence and all those things that we focus on all follow within “Box 1”.  I can understand why he says that, especially since Lean and Six Sigma have been around for decades now and organizations that do NOT adopt these methodologies are simply going to cease to exist pretty soon.

I however made the case (in a separate session we had with VG) of how do you encourage “Box 3” thinking in organizations if not with initiatives such as Lean and Six Sigma.  Lean and Six Sigma give organizations an opportunity to see that what they are doing or the way they are doing it does not work in the long run and it gives them a very structured framework to look for solutions that are outside their current paradigms.  Every time I am teaching a class or coaching a team, I encourage them to think about doing things in a completely different way (a complete paradigm shift), rather than just trying to do them faster or cheaper.

He nodded at my statement.

If you ever have a chance to catch a talk by Mr. Govindarajan, I encourage you to do everything you can to take advantage of that opportunity.  You owe it to yourself!