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Tuesday, July 16, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Innovative Thnking

I want you all to pause for a moment and think outside the box.

Come on. Just do it.

Are you stumped yet?

Yeah, well, me too.

You've all heard it - it's supposed to be good idea to "think outside the box." You're supposed to come up with novel concepts and brilliant solutions that way.

But what does it mean?

Where is this box?

What is this box?

How do we know whether we're in it?

This is the sort of thing I worry about because, well, I don't have a lot of better things to do. Besides, I'm supposed to be a creative person. I should be thinking outside the box all the time.

If only I knew where that damn box was.

OK, some of you are thinking it's just a metaphor. Maybe it is - but consider this: if we all do what we're told and think outside the box, haven't we all placed ourselves in the box by doing the same thing everyone else is doing?

It thus becomes a self-defeating metaphor, a lot like the mathematical projections of history in Isaac Asimov novels. You can predict the future but only if no one else is doing it too and/or knows you're doing it. If everyone knows an outcome, then everyone works to benefit from it and then it doesn't happen.

And if most of us are outside the metaphorical box, we really should be inside it to be different.

So perhaps the box isn't a metaphor. Perhaps there's a box somewhere that we can all stand outside of to make us perform better.

I've given this some thought too. There are, for example, large cardboard boxes in my garage.

I stood next to them. It didn't seem inspirational.

I tried an empty refrigerator box.


I parked outside a Wal-Mart - a big box store. All I felt was nausea.

I considered boxers. The ones beating each other up just made me feel they were idiots for doing it. The square-jawed canine ones made me nervous.

Then I listened to several versions of the Brandenberg Concertos - a variety of Bachs. That was fun but I wasn't thinking any more clearly.

The only thing left to do was attack the problem from the other end.

I climbed into a box and reflected on my stupidity for being there.

Then I got out of the box and I felt much better.


NOT-EXACTLY-MUD SLINGING. Those of you who are sick of predictable negative political campaigning can take heart: it is possible to be creatively negative.

This is from a Florida Court of Appeal ruling called Guetzloe v. State of Florida: "Just before the election, Mr. Guetzloe prepared and mailed out a four-page packet, which purportedly documented a neighborhood dispute and subsequent prosecution of a candidate running for reelection for the position of Mayor of Winter Park, Florida. The mayor allegedly deposited dog excrement on a neighbor out walking his dogs."

This is a smear campaign that truly stinks.

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