By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The search for the “next big thing” often brings calls to think outside the box, but that may be the wrong way to look at it.

“The box” is kind of mental shorthand, which Alan Iny of the Boston Consulting Group says is not all bad:

“You know, the rainbow has seven colors or basketball players are tall, or it could be more complex things like a strategy or a market segmentation, and so saying ‘think outside the box’ is like saying ‘don’t drive on the highway’ without giving you any suggestion of what to do instead.”

For such a suggestion, in fact, a five-step approach to creativity, Iny is co-author of “Thinking in New Boxes: Five Esstenial Steps to Spark the Next Big Idea.”

From doubting everything to constantly re-evaluating, it offers a formula for plugging in your situation, whether business or personal, and seeing it in a new light.

“You can be very creative without coming up with a single new idea. Sometimes, if you change the way at existing ideas, just like BIC changed the way they thought of themselves, from a pen company to a disposable plastic object company, suddenly the door can be opened to a lot of things. You can be very creative without new ideas without new ideas as long as you change the way you look at existing things.”

Iny says the lifespan of a good idea is shorter than ever, so you might just want to get a move on.

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