Boxing Clever

February 14, 2012

From time to time, your eyes are suddenly opened to a job or an industry that you just never really thought about before. In fact, I see it in people’s faces every time I’m explaining to them what a media buyer is…


A recent  TED talk by Mick Mountz of KIVA Systems opened my eyes to the world of boxpacking. Yes, boxpacking. KIVA have invented a new system which turns the world of boxpacking on its head. Instead of warehouse workers going to collect items and box them up, the items are brought to them by robots and much time, money and effort is saved. The ‘pick workers’, as the warehouse staff are called, are much happier too.

They’re happier because the process now revolves around them rather than the ‘problem’ which in this case is the product they need to go find and package. They’re also happier because they don’t have to go to work and walk 5 miles per day around a warehouse. This operator- centric approach should, of course be the rule rather than the exception, but sadly, it isn’t. 

According to Mr. Mountz, this solution came to him during a spell of brainstorming. He was trying to figure out how he could pack boxes more efficiently and was thinking as broadly as possible (….resist ‘thinking outside the box’ pun). In allowing himself to realise what an ideal solution would be in a world without restriction, he could then work out how to make that solution practical. 

Thinking big is a skill. I believe that knocking the ‘yes, but that’s ridiculous’ thought on its head takes discipline. Overcoming our norms to reach genuinely unique solutions is hard, which is why we hold the world’s genuine original thinkers in such high esteem. Here at OMD, we hold ‘Ignition sessions’, facilitated idea generation workshops which help our own day to day thinking aswell as helping clients to crack the challenges facing them. The sessions are structured in such a way that we spend most of the time thinking ‘BIG’ and only rein in the thinking towards the end. We have had lots of success with this type of session (not to mention, fun!), but we’d love it if more people embraced them!

So, for the next month, I’m going to train myself to think more expansively. Instead of “Yes, but…..” I’m going to say “What if…”. I’m going to think about possibilities rather than obstacles, and the proof will be in the pudding at our next Ignition session.

If you want to find out how many bright ideas I’ve contributed, or if you’d like an Ignition session of your own, please contact our Ignition leader.



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