Thinking outside the box is much easier with help from people who were never in that particular box in the first place.
The discipline of "management" is by now well established, with clearly defined institutions, theories and boundaries with other disciplines. This is actually becoming a problem. See, for example, Andrew Hill's recent column in the Financial Times, where he predicts that future progress in management will be at best incremental.
Given that we don't currently lack management challenges, this is worrying. It is less worrying, though, if we start to look for the future of management outside "management."
One of my clients recently went to a dinner of very senior people from the largest UK companies. At my instigation, he asked as many people as he could, "where do you expect to get the ideas move your business forward?" This is the summary of what they said:
"...the best minds from their emerging markets (and I confirmed, they were non-MBA educated) were their best source of new and different ideas. Unsurprisingly, they also shared that the somewhat trying times made those ideas more important than ever. Looking critically at the west from the east was the theme."
Reflecting on who had most helped me with my thinking as a consultant over the last year, I came up with these three:
Andy - former lecturer in computer science, NLP practitioner, consultant in organisational development;
Nathalie - web designer, psychologist, musician;
Nick - consultant psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, former head of a major psychiatric institution.
The message is the same - the most useful ideas come from very different worlds.
If you want to avoid the risk of drinking your own bathwater (or breathing your own exhaust fumes - choose your own metaphor) you will need to start talking to a much wider range of people.
Think back over the last few months, and ask yourself:
Who have I talked to about the management challenges I face?
Do they have similar background and qualifications to me?
Do the read the same stuff I read?
Do they work in the same industry, same organisation, same profession as me?
If the answers are mostly yes, you need to change.