ThinkInsideTheBoxCover 2013 04 07
Think Inside the Box:
Discover the exceptional business inside your organization

Tim Nelson
Jim McGee

WCG Press, 2013

Paper: $15.95
ISBN-13: 978-0-9892503-0-6
Kindle: $9.95
ISBN-13: 978-0-9892503-2-0


Think Inside the Box maps a regimen to discover and revitalize the exceptional business that exists inside your current organization. Businesses add complication and complexity as they grow. Winners and losers exist side by side in product catalogs and among customers. Sorting through the noise to focus on the core and eliminate the wasteful is a constant management challenge.

The methods and tools in this book are the same ones used by consultants and private equity investors. Think Inside the Box walks you through the process step-by-step. You have the data and you have the tools; we provide the map and the how to.

The regimen detailed in Think Inside the Box:

  • Is data driven, using data readily available in the organization.
  • Relies on the well-established 80/20 rule to direct focus and attention.
  • Anchors analysis in the fundamental elements of any organization; products and services and the customers who use them.
  • Demands no rare or unusual skills, techniques, or technology. This is proven technology, readily available and in use in many organizations.
  • Adapts simply to new data as it becomes available.
  • Has a proven track record; applied to over 850 businesses acquired and integrated in one Fortune 150 company, ITW, which has consistently produced superior results.

Think Inside the Box doesn’t stop with the analysis. It takes you from insight through execution. The first part of the book shows you how to identify your most profitable products and customers. It walks you through how to combine those two lists to map your business into four boxes: The Core, Supporting Products, Benefactor Customers, and The Residual. In the next section of the book, we show you how to take the resulting Quad Map and unearth the treasures locked inside each box. We demonstrate how, when, and where to apply over twenty distinct improvement tools and techniques including:

  • Product Line Simplification
  • Visual Production
  • Kanban Inventory Management
  • Dedicated Equipment
  • One-at-a-time Manufacturing
  • Value Stream Analysis
In the final section of the book, we detail the project management, program management, and organizational change management tasks and challenges you will face in taking advantage of the multiple opportunities that the Quad Map and Tool Kit will surface. We also show how to embed the process and the tools into the ongoing operations of your business.
Organizations that have followed this process and used the tools and techniques systematically have seen sustained improvements such as:
  • Eliminating 25% of catalog items without reducing total gross margin
  • Increasing on-time deliveries to over 97% by instituting Kanban inventory management
  • Reducing suppliers from over 200 to 40
  • Increasing revenue per employee from $137,000 to over $425,000
  • Improving operating income from 4% to over 28%