- What do you understand by the term, ‘thinking outside the box’? Give an example of how this can be applied to engineers working for RWE NPower.
As has been discussed in the article, ‘thinking outside the box’ entails the seeking of alternative methods that require new solutions of facing problems (NPower, 2007, p. 111). The box is the representation of the traditional ways or approaches that people use to solve problems. They are those solutions that are taught in schools in universities. In short, these approaches to problems are those that are learned inside the classroom or by reading textbooks. They also include those that have already been used and tested by experts in certain situations that have arisen during problematic circumstances. In contrast, the solutions ‘outside the box’ are those that are yet to be discovered and have never been thought of before.
These solutions usually evolve when a person is already in a situation where experience and learning are subjected to the test. Thus, ‘thinking outside the box’ means facing problems in new way or view. It means coming up with drastic innovative yet wisely thought and analyzed solutions. This can also mean critical thinking. In this way, the person in charge should be very equipped with the right tools in problem solving. In order to achieve this, he should first know how to ‘think inside the box’. One should first look into his collection of knowledge and then if no possible solution is taken from it, it is this time that thinking beyond the limits of tradition and training should be employed.
One simple example is the situation mentioned in the article. In the power plant, pipes are always scraped of dirt in order to measure the thickness of the pipes which is very crucial to the efficiency of the plant. This is the traditional method of looking at the problem or ‘thinking inside the box’ as has been discussed. But a RWE engineer travelled beyond the limits of the conventional way. Instead, the engineer invented a device that measures the thickness of the pipes without requiring that the pipes be scraped of dirt (NPower, 2007, p. 112). What he did exhibits ‘thinking outside the box’.
- How does encouraging thinking outside the box help RWE NPower to make improvements in the way in which it operates?
This way of thinking encourages everyone to think of new ways to increase the efficiency of the power plant to better improve the services they offer. This ‘thinking outside the box’ is like going through the research and development department of the company yet one is working in the field. It becomes an on-site research and development department that manages problems in real time. It is very effective in a way that certain particular and specific problems in every part of the supply chain are considered. Thus, everything that results from ‘thinking outside the box’ becomes very useful. This is seen by the immense practicality of the developments that arise from such kind of thinking. All can be considered practical since the method or solution that was discovered in the process answers a particular problem. Looking again at the example given above, it is evident that this is achieved. If the engineer has not encountered problems regarding the measuring of the pipes and if he had not employed ‘thinking outside the box’, no new device would have been invented. But since the young engineer thought wisely, great improvements are attained such as less cost of production since the company need not invest on time and money in cleaning the pipes.
- Explain how encouraging engineers at RWE NPower to ‘think outside the box’ has led to increased motivation for these employees.
By encouraging RWE engineers to think outside the box, their talents and skills are enhanced not only in problem solving but also in decision making. The creativity and imagination of the engineers are sharpened due to their exposure to problems where they are permitted to go beyond the limits of engineering since ‘thinking outside the box’ requires great imagination and uniqueness (NPower, 2007, p. 111). Their gain in skills in problem solving and decision making gives them a sense of self-confidence and pride not just for themselves but for the whole company as well. By gaining self-confidence, they mature into more self-fulfilled individuals who are capable of more production. In addition, their sense of responsibility also increases making them fit for little if no supervision at all. In having this attributes, the company creates engineers who are committed to the job they have and do not only work just for profit but also for the benefit of the people who depended on their services. Thus, engineers become more motivated in plant development and work for the benefit of the whole corporation.
- Recommend ways in which another organization of your choice might improve results through encouraging employees to think in creative ways about work-related problems.
Another good example that can make use of ‘thinking outside the box’ is those companies that offer real estate development. These organizations have greatly increased in number in the present times. It is therefore applicable that ‘thinking outside the box’ be done to find new ways on how to improve and expand land development and pricing issues. Having the competitive atmosphere in the real estate market, one can only stand out by presenting more unique and original ideas to home improvement. Also, ‘thinking outside the box’ may find ways in promoting the agency. Furthermore, this way of thinking instills ‘grace under pressure’ which is very important in this kind of work. Communication skills countered with firmness and patience when dealing with customers can only be achieved by employing ‘thinking outside the box’.
NPower. (2007). Managing Risk through Effective Team-based Decision Making. Retrieved July 13, 2008, from www.thetimes100.co.uk.