Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Think well INSIDE the box

Photo Credit quiltjunkyard.net

Bill Bradley said recently on the Freakonomics podcast, "Rules provide the structure in which one can achieve." He was talking about a not-so-striking comparison that was being made between sports and the economic market, but my mind jumped to something I recently heard (again) about design. During a recent "townhall" meeting at IBM Design, Todd Wilkins reminded the designers that constraints breed great design. He was responding to the common question about timelines pinching design out of the construction of software products. Meanwhile, there is a web page being loaded onto our intranet site that has a big box and asks people to think outside of it for a "hackday." The universe is talking structure, boxes, and rules to me lately.

"Think Outside the Box" is dissonant to me: if constraints help to form great design and rules create structure to achieve then why are we struggling out of the box? Isn't the box a metaphor for the constraints? And if so, shouldn't we embrace the box if it's so adept at squeezing great design from us? Embracing a box isn't a great experience as we know from helping someone move but, symbolically, we should be hugging that box. Box love. So, though not as catchy, shouldn't the cliche (and it's pretty cliched by now) be something like, "Think well inside the box?"

Perhaps I'm overthinking this and the saying means to THINK outside the box while staying in the box, but I don't read it that way. I guess the main point is really to think. We come full circle to IBM here, inadvertently.

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