We want to think outside the box – but then end up being too far from the box to be recognizable.
Being too close to the work gets us in trouble for different reasons; it means we limit ourselves and don’t take advantage of opportunities others see for innovation.
Measuring your proximity takes a particular skill, not only with your awareness of the needs of others, but your awareness of self.
Proximity doesn’t end with physical control, such as managing a task, etc. It ends much like personal space does – people have differing amounts of necessary personal space they must maintain for their own sanity. But how do we adjust for this? How can we ensure we’re the right distance from the box without being too close to the work?
We can’t. And perhaps we shouldn’t.
There are benefits to working closely with a subject – domain knowledge, an understanding of purpose, shared belief and the idea of why.
Similarly, there are benefits to being detached. Clinical examination, the agility that comes with sitting out the siege of new ideas. Awareness of a broader landscape.
It may be impossible to navigate between the two for every job – but this is yet another awareness trap we can avoid if we school our process, and think about our work differently.
After all, before knowing what the right proximity is comes knowing how close – or far – from an ideal you are. That, actually, may be far more important.