Innovation is about changing the world. Creativity is about changing how you look at the world.
Luc de Brabandere is a senior advisor to The Boston Consulting Group’s Strategy practice. He specializes in creativity, scenario building, and strategic vision techniques applied to business. Luc served as a BCG Fellow from 2008 through 2017, and was a partner at the firm from 2001 and 2008.
Luc’s research topic as a Fellow was what he calls “thinking in new boxes.” His theory is that people naturally use mental models, frameworks, and theories—or “boxes”—to organize their thinking. Thinking “outside the box” is not as liberating as it sounds. The space outside the box is infinite—and when faced with endless possibilities, the human mind feels adrift and tends to fall back into the familiarity of the box.
A far more powerful approach to spurring creativity is to develop a set of new boxes that frees the mind to think the unthinkable. And it is crucial to create new boxes proactively, before competitors force leaders into a new box by outmaneuvering them. The book Thinking in New Boxes: A New Paradigm for Business Creativity (Random House, September 2013) is a roadmap for sustainable creativity that Luc created with BCG’s Alan Iny.
The concept of thinking in new boxes is useful for corporations that plan to form a strategic vision, undergo scenario planning, develop new product ideas, and more. It is a practical approach to creativity for today’s business world.
Luc is a member of the faculty of the Louvain School of Management and École Centrale Paris and teaches a Coursera MOOC called “On Strategy: What Managers Can Learn from Philosophy.” He leads strategic seminars with boards, executive committees, and the management of companies and various organizations. He helps people looking to develop new strategic visions, new products and services, and long-term scenarios to prepare for the future.
He is also the author and coauthor of many other books, including The Forgotten Half of Change: Achieving Greater Creativity Through Changes in Perception (Kaplan, May 2005). This book is available in Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai, French, and English.
Before joining BCG, Luc served as chairman of the National Geographic Institute from 1997 to 1998. He also held positions as a general manager at the Brussels Stock Exchange from 1990 to 1991 and as a computer scientist and information services manager at the Générale de Banque until 1989.
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In a blog for The Economist Group, BCG’s Luc de Brabandere and Alan Iny explain why it pays to challenge fundamental beliefs about your customers and markets.
On HBR.org, BCG’s Luc de Brabandere and Alan Iny describe the distinction between paradigm-shifting creativity and the innovation that often follows.
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