I think Out of the Box is a reverse excuse for a failure to innovate or to even try. Lets face it, it is far easier to not innovate then it is to really think Out Side the Box.
Literally the original term “outside the box” refers to the work of 1970’s era business consultants who referred their clients to a puzzle in Sam Loyd’s 1914 Cyclopedia of Puzzles, where when 9 nine dots arrange in a square the challenge is to connect the dots by drawing four straight, continuous lines while never lifting the pencil from the paper. As everyone knows you can not complete the task without drawing a line outside the confines of the square.
As was all the rage to say in the 70’s and 80’s you must get out of the box to innovate. Simply put you can not create something new if you can not see beyond the limits of the task or problem.
Take for example Michael Arrington who in his April 9th, 2007 post Apple iPod v. The Insulin Pump wrote about Amy Tenderich's call for Apple or someone to relieve those suffering from diabetes to be relieved of the burden of the clunky tool of insulin correction. I have watched many person with diabetes have to deal with the hassle and indignities of testing and dosing their insulin. Surely there was a better way and congrats to Amy and others who pointed out iPods are fine but could perhaps we get something more life improving out of the box as well.
So why has it taken this long for someone to innovate something to aid a market that is 171 million people worldwide according to a 2006 World Health Organization report. Simply put no one got outside the box despite an overwhelming marketplace.
Ultimately, it is easy to get by improving others ideas or making marginal improvements. But to really innovate one needs to look beyond the confines of normal or existing. Ultimately just as it is hard for a rocket to break away from Earths orbit it is very hard to innovate. It has all been done before after all. Or is that just the excuse to grab for the low hanging fruit and let some other person innovate?