Box, Wheel, and Book

I’m going to lose my cool the next time someone in a meeting tells me, “We need more out of the box thinking.”

Look, that phrase was innovative once upon a time. It was a new way of saying that you should strive to be original, go against the flow, look at things a different way.

Now? It’s about the laziest phrase you can possibly use — and you’re saying it to try to demand originality from someone else? Please!

While we’re at it, there are a few other phrases we’d all improve ourselves by forgetting:

  • You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Of course you can! There’s an entire industry devoted to book marketing. The entire point of modern book jackets is to give you the basic plot, tone, and target audience of any given book while you hold it in your hand unopened.
  • Stop trying to reinvent the wheel.” Why? We invent new versions of wheels all the time, and they are almost always an improvement — just ask Goodyear. Are you saying we should have stopped at the first wheel ever made, presumably chiseled out of rock or wood into a not-quite-circular shape?
  • We need to all get on the same page.” I’ll give you a pass on this one if, and only if, you are in a meeting that requires everyone to read along. (Because I’ve never yet attended such a meeting without at least two people trying to start reading a few pages in, no matter what the leader of the meeting tells them to do. Sigh.)

Sorry, I just had to rant.

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