If there is to be one symbol of the pandemic beyond facemasks, I nominate the cardboard box. Never before has such an unglamorous, utilitarian item played such a major role in our day-to-day life.

It took just one glance at the weekly recycling bin to realize the number of items shipped in the lowly container. Boxes became pervasive during the pandemic, delivering everything from food to futons. Where would e-commerce be without cardboard?

But cardboard wasn’t just used for shopping. Countless organizations utilized boxes in an attempt to package up some of the emotion that was lost from not being in person. You name it and swag was being sent via mail to commemorate an occasion: graduation boxes, Christmas boxes, birthday boxes, conference boxes, and more. Boxes full of love to simulate connection.

The box also served as a make-shift play toy, entertaining kids for hours. Whether it was making a fort, a robot, or a doll bed, cardboard could be fashioned into just about anything. It fascinated kids enough to earn a spot in the National Toy Hall of Fame.

Cardboard is the unsung workhorse of our daily life. You don’t think about it but look around. Your food boxes, toilet paper rolls, tissue boxes, Amazon deliveries, Chewy boxes, furnace filters and so much more rely on this sturdy paper.

Think about what is the equivalent to the “cardboard” of your organization — that piece of unnoticed infrastructure that drives so much else. Are you maximizing its value? It’s often what we don’t pay attention to that offers the greatest opportunity for leverage.

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