Think outside the boxToday, I will introduce you the last technique to get more “Options“:  “Think outside the box“. If it is the first post you have read about “Options” as a coaching approach/technique, you could take a look at the original post, where you will find techniques related to “Options“, here: “Coaching Session – Real Questions”.

Very often I hear that we should think “outside the box”, but some people really need help to do it. It is not because they are not able to do it. A lot of the time, people are not able to do it due to a bad experience in the past. That past could have happened anytime, even in primary/secondary school. We, as coaches, only need to ask the right question to re-activate the thinking out of the box way.

One way to identify a box is that solutions occur to you that don’t occur to the one being coached. Instead of just telling them your ideas, it may be much more powerful to get them to think about why that idea didn’t occur to them. When you figure out how this idea opens the box, the one being coached may immediately think of several more answers. – Tony Stoltzfus

When you, as coach, see the individual/team functioning inside the box, put a name to the box; then help them explore what might happen if they went outside of it.  A box could be:

The other person must change for things to get better:

  • “Envision yourself as a change agent here – that your response makes a real difference. If you see yourself as powerful instead of powerless, what would you do?”
  • “Just for the sake of argument, let’s say the other person will never change. Can you live with that? Then what could you do to make things better?”

The resources I have now are the only ones available:

  • “Get creative: what other resource could you tap into?”
  • “The solutions I’ve heard so far are limited by the resources you have now. What could you do to broaden the resources you could throw at this?”

There is some external circumstance I’m stuck with and can’t change: 

  •  “I’m noticing that all your options assume you have to stay in this [name the circumstance: job, role, relationship….]. Can I challenge that? What if you made a more fundamental change?”
  • “What if your schedule or budget wasn’t a given? If you had more time and money, what other options would you have?”

There is something about myself that I can’t change:

  • “What would you do if you really believed in yourself and knew you couldn’t fail?”
  • “It seems like you are assuming that …… can’t change. Is that really true?”

There is a belief or principle that I hold to that can’t change:

  • “What belief or principle are you functioning out of here? Is that belief serving you well or hindering you? What do you want to do about it?”
  • “Your options seem to be shaped by a belief that ……. Does that belief work here? Could re-evaluating or adjusting it lead to some better options?”

I hope you enjoyed this read and got some ideas about this technique to generate more options in our teams or participants. If you want to review all the techniques to get more options, please take a look at these posts:

Feel free to leave your experience, feedback or comment.

Thank you,


About the author

Omar is an agile practitioner and lover. Certified Scrum master. Agile Coach & Agile Leader. He believes it is important to continually be learning and growing. His dream is to be a lifelong learner; growing each day. He is also passionate about leadership development and seeing people reach their full potential. He is also a good husband & father (his wife says that time to times). He has a wonderful wife and 2 fantastic kids. In his free time, if he does not have any plan ahead, he tries to apply agile methodologies at the family level :). He enjoys a lot to travel with his family and discovers new places for them.