Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thinking outside the box

I have been having a great time over the last few weeks at Princeton Sports. They have me working on projects that would seem meniall to the average eye, but are actually very important to the company. They had no reservations throwing me into their business questions and taking my opinion with all seriousness. I have to give them credit, they have really mastered my next lesson.

Lesson # 12, Having problems thinking outside the box? Talk to someone outside the box!

Sometimes when we have thrown ourselves so deep into a project or a task, we have problems with improving them. For example, we have grown so attached to the paint color that we painted our house with 10 years ago, and we wonder why we can’t sell our house. It takes a real estate agent to say “This paint color is hideous, no wonder.” It’s the same in business. Princeton Sports had me working on several tasks that they really needed an outside opinion on. For starters, they had me look at their website. Sometimes, as a company, we find it hard to see the problems in our own creations. This is when you really need to ask someone who has no idea what it looks like in your head. When they asked me to look at their website, I came back with several very constructive criticisms. First of all, their Facebook link was small, and barely recognizable as Facebook. They had charts on their website that listed the names of the brands they carry, but as an outsider I had no idea what these brands were. In reality, we recognize the golden arches before we recognize the name McDonalds. I told them that people would recognize logos more than they would recognize the names in regular old fashioned type. They had me go on their website and change it immediately.

They also had me create pages for some of the services they offer. As insiders, they have so much knowledge that it’s hard to express what facts are extremely important. They had me, an outsider, examine some of their processes in action and create pages from scratch, with only the brief knowledge of the main points that I picked up on. This allowed me to create pages for the average customer with no previous knowledge of custom bike or ski boot fits.

The lesson that I leave you with today is, when you’re wondering what you can do to improve on your college essay, or to improve on your project, ask someone with a completely unbiased opinion. Not only will they give you really good advice, but it will be constructive. When you can’t think outside the box, ask someone who’s outside the box.

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