Thinking outside the Box

The term Thinking outside the Box originates from an early 20th century puzzle.

The objective is to connect the nine points (or circles) using a maximum of four straight lines without lifting pen from the paper.

Thinking outside the Box

Figure 1 – Connecting the 9 points problem

The mind feels compelled to respect the boundaries of the box. Assumption of constraints therefore misdirects the problem solver’s attention.

Thinking outside the Box – A Solution

There are many solutions, which are readily apparent once the problem solver realises that lines can extend beyond the box (hence ‘outside the box thinking.’). Figures 2 and 3 illustrate two solutions.

Solution to Thinking outside the Box

Figure 2 – Thinking outside the Box – A solution to the problem extending lines beyond the internal box

Alternative solution to Thinking outside the box

Figure 3 – An alternative solution

Thinking outside the Box has become something of a cliché, but as illustrated above has validity in lateral thinking.

Further Reading on Lateral Thinking Techniques