Reading List: Inside the Box

UPDATED: June 3, 2013
PUBLISHED: June 3, 2013

By Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg



Simon & Schuster; $28.50

Thinking “outside the box” has dominated our perceptions of creativity ever since the buzz phrase surfaced in the late 1960s or early 1970s. In this absorbing book, Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg persuasively refute the idea that innovation relies solely on the adult equivalent of coloring outside the lines. Boyd, assistant professor of marketing and innovation at the University of Cincinnati, and Goldenberg, marketing professor at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, say inside-the-box thinking means innovating from what you know rather than thrashing about in unfamiliar seas waiting for that wave of inspiration to wash over you. “The majority of new, inventive and successful products result from only five templates: subtraction, division, multiplication, task unification and attribute dependency,” they explain. These components constitute the basis of Systematic Inventive Thinking (SIT), which was developed by Goldenberg and two colleagues in an effort to make creativity accessible to anyone. The authors present examples of companies that have applied (sometimes unknowingly) one or more of these templates to create and innovate. Philips Electronics used subtraction to create the remote-controlled DVD player. Procter & Gamble hired Goldenberg’s co-developers to work with a team of engineers and marketers to produce a new product for the Febreze line. Using the multiplier template, the team created a dual-function air freshener that doubled P&G’s share of that market. Despite the title, Inside the Box is all about opening your mind to new pathways to innovation and creativity.