Creative Thinking - Inside the Box

What is creative thinking? 

Creative thinking is defined as thought that goes beyond the norm. It's a new way of thinking that fits various solutions to a problem. Rather than think linearly or following existing routes, creative thinkers come up with innovative and unique ideas.  

Search creative thinking and most responses will say, "thinking outside the box!" There's this idea that to come up with creative ideas one must go beyond some imaginary bound. That there is a box that contains all that exists, and you must think completely differently. But what if we told you that is wrong?

Listen to on of our lessons!

Creative thinking would be impossible. Like we can't imagine what ultraviolet light looks like or what happens after we die, our brains cannot jump to the intangible. Einstein did not discover nuclear energy from thin air. He observed the world, namely how atoms and nuclei act, and through creative thought, came up with a new idea. Planes were invented after observing bird's flight and the automative vehicles before it. 1984 was written by Orwell after observing the change occurring in his life. Those inventions might have seemed impossible to others, but the inventors came up with creative solutions to problems in front of them, using creative interactions of what existed in front of them. 

Creative thinking is not about finding the impossible and intangible. Creative thinking is about using what you have to create something new. 

Is thinking creatively a gift or a skill? Can it be learned like other skills? Professor Goldenberg and Drew Boyd believe so, and have the years of experience to back them up.

In this course, they teach a simple yet powerful framework for how to systematically generate creative and innovative ideas. You'll learn how to use 5 methods to generate new ideas.

These methods have been used at industry giants like Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, and more. And this course has been taught at leading universities, including Harvard, Cincinnati, and Columbia at the Interdisciplinary Center in Israel.

Professor Jacob Goldenberg

Professor of Marketing at Arison School of Business Administration, IDC

Drew Boyd

Marketing and Innovation Associate

Professor-Educator at Cincinnati University



Introduction to Inside the Box Thinking

Welcome to Inside the Box Thinking! 

In this lesson, you'll learn about 2 Key Principles of creative thinking:

  1. The Closed World

  2. Function Follows Form


The Closed World

We'll ditch the term inside/outside the box and dive into the principle of the "Closed World". A place where creative ideas exist. 

The Closed World forces us to operate under constraints that increase our creative juices. This plays out in all walks of life. Soldiers in the military who are out in the field with no access to supplies. Business executives who have a set number of resources available, but have to deal with a competitive landscape. And even, astronauts in space. 


Review Lesson

Welcome to your first review lesson!

We'll review everything we've covered so far: The Closed World, Function Follows Form, and why thinking INSIDE the box leads to creative solutions.

This lesson is interactive -- we'll be asking you questions throughout. Don't worry, no one is grading you, but taking the time and effort to answer will greatly improve the quality of your learning.


Function Follows Form

The principle of this lesson is one of the two main principles that the entire premise of Systematic Inventive Thinking is based on. The key is that it is easier for us to imagine a function for a product once we can imagine its form. Once we see something, we can imagine what function it will serve. 

You'll learn:

  • Why mistakes can lead to innovation

  • The discovery of Function Follows Form

  • What situations best fit using Function Follows Form


Method II: Multiplication

Multiplication is another method for thinking creatively and breaking through our fixedness. It's been used in some category-defining products. It's one of the simplest, yet most powerful methods we'll learn. ​

You'll learn:

  • Why Multiplication is a powerful template

  • The 7 step process for implementing it

  • 4 common mistakes when using the template and how to avoid them


Method IV: Attribute Dependency

The fourth template for creative thinking, Attribute Dependency, is a versatile method responsible for 35% of successful new products. By creating a dependency between two attributes of a product, you can do great things.

You'll learn:

  • Why Attribute Dependency is successful

  • 6 steps for implementation

  • 4 important pointers to keep in mind


Real Creativity is INSIDE the Box

Have you ever been told to solve a problem by "thinking outside the box"? Most people have. But what if we told you that thinking outside the box isn't all it's cracked up to be? Research shows that to come up with creative solutions you actually have to stay closer to your problem. 

In this lesson, you'll learn about:

  • The 3 metrics that define creativity

  • The origins of brainstorming and thinking "outside the box"

  • Where the sweet spot for creative ideas lies

  • Why staying "inside the box", or in the closed world of the problem can be beneficial to creativity and help land us in the sweet spot of ideas


Enemies of Creativity

You'll learn about why people resist creative ideas and innovation. Resistance to ideas stems from human psychology to job security. You'll learn about the important ones: ​

  • Our tendency to make implicit assumptions

  • Fixedness

  • Organizational Resistance

  • Consumer Resistance


Method I: Subtraction

Subtraction is the first template for creativity we'll learn in this course. It might just be the most powerful, but counterintuitive method!

Have you ever heard the expression that "less is more"? Well, Subtraction really brings that concept to life. By removing a key component to a service or product, you can actually make new, disruptive products. Just look at Intuit's Quickbooks, Apple's iPod shuffle, or P&G's clothing freshener.

You'll learn:

  • The theory behind Subtraction

  • The 7 step process to implementing it


Templates for Creative Thinking

This course is all about 5 templates for creativity. But how can we be sure about these methods? Why these 5 and not others?​

You'll learn about the research that led to the Inside the Box framework and how Prof. Goldenberg found these 5 specific templates for creative thinking.


Method III: Task Unification

Make your existing assets do more! That's what Task Unification is all about. This method is used in companies all around us, from Facebook to Waze. The key is analyzing the components in the Closed World correctly and assigning a new task to an existing asset. ​

You'll learn:

  • Why Task Unification does wonders for creativity

  • The 5 step process for using it

  • 4 pitfalls to avoid​


Method V: Division

Divide and conquer!

The Division template is great for products, but even more so for process innovation. Division has been used to successfully transform everyday devices like your TV, shampoo, check-in line at a hotel, and even, employee-training. 

You'll learn:

  • Why Division inspires Inside the Box innovation

  • A 5 step process for using Division