They are much more common than you probably think.*From Inside the Box: A Proven System of Creativity for Breakthrough Results Copyright 2014 Drew Boyd There are many theories of creativity.What the latest experiment proves is not that creativity lacks any association to thinking outside-the-box, but that such is not conditioned by acquired knowledge, i.e., environmental concerns.Because the solution is, in hindsight, deceptively simple, clients tended to admit they should have thought of it themselves.Because they hadn’t, they were obviously not as creative or smart as they had previously thought, and needed to call in creative experts. The nine-dot puzzle and the phrase “thinking outside the box” became metaphors for creativity and spread like wildfire in marketing, management, psychology, the creative arts, engineering, and personal improvement circles.That this advice is useless when actually trying to solve a problem involving a real box should effectively have killed off the much widely disseminated—and therefore, much more dangerous—metaphor that out-of-the-box thinking spurs creativity.After all, with one simple yet brilliant experiment, researchers had proven that the conceptual link between thinking outside the box and creativity was a myth. But you will find numerous situations where a creative breakthrough is staring you in the face.It was an appealing and apparently convincing message.Indeed, the concept enjoyed such strong popularity and intuitive appeal that no one bothered to check the facts.
Speakers, trainers, training program developers, organizational consultants, and university professors all had much to say about the vast benefits of outside-the-box thinking.Most people assume that 60 percent to 90 percent of the group given the clue would solve the puzzle easily. What’s more, in statistical terms, this 5 percent improvement over the subjects of Guilford’s original study is insignificant.In other words, the difference could easily be due to what statisticians call sampling error.Even though they weren’t instructed to restrain themselves from considering such a solution, they were unable to “see” the white space beyond the square’s boundaries.Only 20 percent managed to break out of the illusory confinement and continue their lines in the white space surrounding the dots.