“I lost count of the number of times I heard ‘Think Outside the Box’…”

Alec Risch

Alec Risch (IL ’15 ), Head Roaster/Green Coffee Buyer, Heine Brother’s Coffee

Trust Me When I Tell You That Turning Off the Value Destroyers Before You Mind Map from the Clouds Down, Followed By Conducting a Jeep Bonnet Review After You’ve Taken the Hill is Absolutely the Most Effective Way to Ensure That You’ll Achieve Breakthrough Results.

I lost count of the number of times I heard “Think Outside the Box” during ten minutes of dialogue at our Yum! Brands Ignite program day.  (I ran out of fingers and toes.) Whenever someone gives me permission to think outside the box my eyes roll so hard I get a headache. Every. Single. Time. I get it.  You want me to be creative, to let my mind go where no one else has gone before.  Shed my fear of saying the wrong thing.  Drop any assumptions I may carry into a meeting room.  Proceed as though the only obstacles to success are in my mind.  All I can think is, “Easy for you to say.”  If creative, novel thinking was so easy 10,000 of our roughly 80,000 daily thoughts would be million dollar ideas.  And, so what if I have 10,000 great ideas?  They’re worthless if I don’t know how to bring them out of my head, into the real world.  Just once I’d like someone to say, “Here’s a really good way to think differently, and achieve your goals.  It’s worked for me for years.”

Much to my relief and delight, I think someone at Yum! Brands felt my pain long ago, and built a program to actual teach people how to think outside the box, and accomplish something meaningful with all those wonderful new ideas.

I thank Yum! Brands and Maria Paris for sharing a toolbox with an array of tools designed to build leaders who can move a project from brainstorming through final implementation.  “Achieving Breakthrough Results” is an impressive collection of conversation starters, thought experiments, and practical processes that address every step of managing a project.  What I most appreciate about the ABR toolkit is the number of options it provides.  If one idea doesn’t work for a particular application, there are so many others to choose from that you’re bound to find the one that will work best.

At our Ignite program day at Yum! we actually used many of the tools immediately after learning what each one was. It was really cool to see how the theories we were learning in the classroom could be put to use to, yes, achieve breakthrough results. I already feel like the time we spent examining our project through the ABR lens will result in a more effective and impactful outcome for our non-profit. And, isn’t that what it’s all about; moving from vague to specific, out of the abstract into reality, where the time we spend and the work we do creates something that positively changes someone’s life?