Most people talk about thinking “outside of the box” as an idiomatic expression encouraging creative thinking and problem-solving that goes beyond traditional boundaries or norms. It’s about innovation and unconventional strategies that may not fit within structured models. But what about thinking “inside the box”, as a systematic method for examining and improving your organization? And now about this…

Let’s talk about the thinking inside the box by using the 6 box framework. This is a management model that encompasses a view of an organization’s function and effectiveness in six critical aspects. The purpose; why the thing exists and what it seeks to achieve. The structure, how it is arranged or organized to fill its purpose. The rewards in place to incentivize and show appreciation of those in the organization. Then there are helpful mechanisms, or internal systems and processes that support the functioning of what we’re doing. Finally there is the relationship, which is about the quality and nature of interactions between teams and groups or even individuals and of course the leadership style and effectiveness, especially on how it influences culture and performance.
All of this helps to diagnose issues and align strategies across different domains that we want to improve internally, without “leaving the box”, let’s say.  We can apply this “inside the box” strategy or framework to people, processes and even product. The point of it all is to balance and manage those effectively.
So when applied to people, it helps to emphasize the importance of hiring, retention, fostering trust and belonging, encouraging growth, ensuring accountability for results, and recognizing varied levels of performance. When we look at processes, it helps focus on using efficient resources, setting clear goals, improving operational processes, using metrics for monitoring, maintaining agility, and making informed decisions. But also with product, where it can address and understand customer needs, whilst maximizing customer value, recognizing threats and opportunities, delivering value efficiently, and pursuing innovation.
But like everything, it has some pitfalls that we need to pay attention to. Paralysis by analysis is the first one, and to be honest, can be applied to pretty much anything or any framework we use, which is overcomplicating simple issues. Obviously, resistance to change, either to think outside or inside the box is a struggle. Disrupting established routines is never a good thing to start with, but sometimes is the best strategy. Then implementing changes in all of those 6 big areas can be daunting and resource-intensive, even so when accommodating that to the rapid change often encountered in the tech industry, it can create some misalignment, and the risk, that this structure could become a siloed approach.
Bottom line; the 6 Box Framework or “thinking inside the box”, is a structured approach to organizational analysis and management, emphasizing internal factors that leaders can directly influence. It focuses on elements like purpose, structure, rewards, mechanisms, relationships, and leadership. But can introduce complexities, potentially overwhelming decision-makers, risking misalignment with agility needs. Yet, it brings balanced improvements across various areas, and aids in identifying alignment issues between an organization’s strategy and operations, fostering a comprehensive approach to management and growth. See you next episode!