Innovative Thinking in The Workplace - Vocab

The following expressions are useful when you are discussing innovation or ideas. So, whether you're debating thoughts or plans, or you just want to expand your workplace expressions, this is a great list to begin with:

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think outside the box

This is a really popular expression, and it comes from the idea that 'the box' is where all the usual stuff is stored. When you 'think outside the box', you come up with new ideas that no one has considered before. This is a great way to get noticed by the Boss, and might lead to promotion!


  • Okay, everyone. I'm tired of the same old ideas. I need you all to think outside the box on this one and bring me something new.

think on your feet

This might sound as if your Boss doesn't want you sitting down in meetings, but this expression is about dealing with problems in motion, or being a quick-thinker. If you are a problem-solver who can juggle tasks and priorities, then you are probably able to 'think on your feet'.


  • It was so busy last week, that when the systems went down, we all had to think on our feet to keep production going.

step up your game

When you hear this, it may be because someone is not happy with your work or your ideas. They might suggest that you 'step up your game', which means they want you to improve your performance.


  • You're not performing well enough this month, and your proposals for increasing profits weren't strong enough. If you don't step up your game, I'll have to review your contract at the end of the quarter.

run it by you/me

Every new idea needs to be run by your Boss before being implemented. This just means that you make him or her aware of your proposals or plans. After all, your Boss has the final say!


  • You shouldn't have gone ahead with those changes without running it by me first! I'm the one who gives the green light on these things.


Everyone knows that brainstorming is the most productive way to tease out new ideas. When we 'brainstorm', we get a number of people together and present a range of ideas. But the 'brainstorming' happens when one person's idea makes another person think of something else, and this keeps happening until really good ideas arise.


  • We spent hours brainstorming. It was exhausting, but it was great to bounce some ideas around and we came out with something amazing at the end!

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