Often candidates are asked to come up with a crazy, wild, out-of-the box idea for a process to map their level of innovativeness. While it is an effective way to assess the thought process of a candidate, it does not gauge how the person will perform in conventional situations. This is where ‘inside the box’ thinking helps.
Many managers and employees are good at thinking within the constraints of a position. Since they are auto-tuned to function under certain limitations, it becomes easier for them to innovate within those limited resources. Such candidates can also work well as they are able to think creatively within the parameters they are used to.
Anish Philips, CHRO, Marlabs Inc.
Who are inside-the-box thinkers?
Every business has certain processes, which are regular, monotonous and tedious. For such systems, it is important to have employees who can work under constraints effectively and also manage to innovate. When HR experts were asked to comment on it, they encouraged a balanced setup of employees comprising both inside-the-box and outside-the-box thinkers.
Ranjit Menon, SVP – HR, Hinduja Global Solutions, advocates a balance of both. “For any team, if everybody is creative then there could be a problem. Any process or activity will have components which require a lot of steadfastness. In accounting, for instance, a month-on-month closing is a rigorous job and also repetitive in nature. For any department, there will be some activity that will be repetitive and time bound,” Menon points out.
Out-of-the-box thinking pertains to how one can improve what is currently existing. Every organisation needs people to continue the currently existing system. “Business has to keep running, and for that, one needs regular supply of consuming fuel. That means, one requires to have people who possess the discipline to execute this repeatedly. Otherwise, none of these tasks will follow the right sequence or give the desired outcome. Many organisations have often slowed down and focused on core strengths,” adds Menon.
Hari TN, head – HR, Big Basket
At the end of the day, recruiting a talent depends on how the person thinks. Sometimes, a position may need simple permutations-combinations for problem solving, and such profiles do not require high-profile innovations. Such talents are also important. Hari TN, head – HR, Big Basket, believes companies should look for talent that can think. “Most problems do not need out-of-the-box thinking. They just require application of uncluttered thinking. Some clear-thinking individuals, through application of intuitive pattern recognition and creativity, can also think out of the box,” he explains. Hari T N also lists out how clear thinking can be assessed. “By giving candidates some real- life business scenarios and problems, one can then evaluate them based on a) the questions they ask, b) the assumptions they make, and c) their overall thought process,” Hari T N points out.
Ranjit Menon, SVP – HR, Hinduja Global Solutions,
A lot also depends on an organisations’ goals and motives. Anish Philips, CHRO, Marlabs Inc., is rather clear about how this should be approached. “What matters is the outcome and operating principles. Outcome is value for customers and investors. Operating principles include equal opportunity to people, respect for environment, and rewards/recognition for contribution. If this is followed, then traditional or conventional / linear or nonlinear doesn’t matter,” clarifies Philips.
While thinking outside the box is the trend, thinking within constraints is also equally important. That is because, not every situation needs an earth-shatteringly fresh idea, but a regular fix. Hence, acquiring talent in the same league is important.