Incremental thinking locks the box

Enter the box at your own risk

Remember the rotary phone?

Technology improved and the rotary phone became quaint. Soon, every phone had buttons. Then they lost their cords. Then they worked in the car, then anywhere. Phones got smaller and thinner.

Then someone thought outside the box.

Phones started getting bigger again. Now, they have cords you can attach when you need them. And I wouldn't be surprised if, eventually, those Apple folks put their iPod rotary device (aka "click wheel") on a new iPhone.

Thinking outside the box turned a phone into an iPhone, into a smart phone.  All of the sudden, people stopped thinking about how to make the box bigger and better and started to think about how to escape the box.

To break the lock on the box, you have to give up on incremental thinking.

What does this look like?

Take something that's super-InterVarsity, super-campus ministry ... new student outreach. Every Fall, every InterVarsity community all across the United States connects with new students. All of these InterVarsity groups do something that looks like an Ice Cream Social. Good advertisement. Good organization. Good follow-up. Lots of ice cream and lots of students to connect with

But chapters tend to flat-line with NSO. Eventually they reach the same number of students every year and, no matter how much better you make your ice cream social, you can't break that threshold.

One outside the box idea that broke that threshold was a progressive dinner. We engaged fewer students (40 rather than 200), but had more of them stick with us (35 rather than 20). More attention, deeper connection, longer involvement. Outside the box.

But how do we come up with the ideas?

Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com and karpati

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