Bento Box

People. Exchange. Value. 

Bento Boxing™ is an innovation tool for developing strategies, communications, even entire businesses. 

Bento boxes are used in Japan and other countries (for example, tiffin packs in India) to most efficiently, effectively and, in many cases, aesthetically, carry lunch, dinner or snacks to school, work, wherever. Colin applies that idea mostly metaphorically. His premise is simple, and turns a common – and commonly misunderstood – notion in “innovative thinking” upside down … before you “think  outside the box,” first think inside the box.

For starters, what box are you thinking outside of? And is that even the right box? Is it the most valuable and even necessary box. Plus, like a Russian nesting doll or the layers of an onion, there are always multiple levels (and boxes) to think through as you dive deeper. It can be an incredibly daunting task or even hornet’s nest of tasks. And just the thought of all the permutations and possibilities – especially when an organization is young and the potential paths are numerous – can wrench the strategy wheel with a fear of analysis paralysis.

Fortunately, the Bento Boxing methodology makes the process not only much, much easier and achievable, but also actually enjoyable. There can be elegant sophistication in simplicity. Simple categories can be drilled as deep as you want or need to go. But first it’s helpful to begin with simple terms and concepts, top-level. That’s the point of the boxes; and there’s plenty of room to think deep, far, and wide within them …

Colin initially developed the methodology after having reviewed and tested out a number of popular business modeling approaches, and fueled that thinking with having served, supported, founded, or otherwise rigorously assessed the value and viability of over 100 early-stage companies in the past 13 or 14 years alone (think back to Dotcom 1 circa 1998).

Again, to be truly innovative doesn’t mean you have to color outside the lines or march to a different tune. It means knowing what you can truly do better, why that’s important, and how you can do it for the purpose of delivering and receiving value. Innovation also needs to be driven in the context of what’s been done and most importantly who will not only benefit from it but will also happily give it their hard-earned or otherwise closely guarded and managed resources – money, knowledge, time, relationships, anything of value.

The idea is this. Take a close look at 12 key points and intersections of value and differentiation. Assess their current state with a process akin to SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). Get a clearer sense of how they all interrelate. Plan for how each area can be improved upon to increase business success. Enact the plan.

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