Thinking Inside The Box

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photo credit: ♔ Georgie R via photopin cc

photo credit: ♔ Georgie R via photopin cc

On September 25th, 2013, I attended a really interesting conference held by the Disney Institute. Specifically, we covered Disney’s approach to creativity and innovation. It was a highly interesting conference. We learned that anyone can draw Mickey Mouse, that an animatronic Johnny Depp is creepy looking and that Disney will never miss out on an opportunity to sell you on their cruise line.

Honestly though, it was a great conference that generated some great innovative thinking. My notebook is full of scribbled notes and beginnings of great ideas all intended to help make my company’s message clearer. They have a 4 stage creativity and innovation model; collaborative culture, organizational identity, structural systems and leader’s role. Every stage of the model is highly interesting, but I seemed to find the most inspiration from organizational identity. The organizational identity says that we should have a common understanding of who we are, what we create and who we create it for. It also suggests that we know the parameters in which our organization can create, make our organizational identity clear and focus creative energy to conserve resources.

A lot of times, we say “we need to think outside the box” of whatever standards have been set by our competition or whatever. As a marketing professional, I’ve constantly tried to operate without boundaries. Out in the open space is where I believed that creative innovation lived. However, during this conference, I recognized that creativity can also flourish within a structure. Having a developed set of parameters doesn’t stifle innovation as I once thought, they can help keep the creative mind focused. It can also reduce the stress of having to always being ahead of the curve, because the structure is constantly redefining the curve.

The four parameters Disney has set up are:

  • Vision. What do we aspire to be?
  • Mission. What do we do?
  • Customer. For whom do we exist?
  • Essence. What do you want your customers to feel?

These four standards, the “box”, provide guidance and direction which also help eliminate inefficiencies. They can keep everyone on the team focused on one direction toward the goal. As a company grows, working creatively within these standards help maintain brand integrity, expectations and customer experience. Your own personal feeling of Disney aside, what do you think of “thinking inside the box”? Do you think there is value to this? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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Jeff Howell

Jeff Howell

Principle, Jeff Howell Consulting at Jeff Howell Consulting
Jeff Howell is a sales and marketing professional based in Michigan He is principal of Jeff Howell Consulting, a marketing consulting and sales training agency. Jeff is a leader in integrated marketing and has developed successful marketing campaigns. Crazy coffee lover, Red Sox fanatic, and amazingly admits to being a fan of the Detroit Lions.
Jeff Howell


Design & Marketing professional seeking new company call home. Seeing the bottom of my coffee cup frightens me. Proudly rocking the boat since 1976
@till_carlos SEO/SEM has better roi if done right, but I'm still a fan of good old fashioned print & design. - 2 hours ago
Jeff Howell
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