Sharing my learnings from the book, Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono
Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono
The first practical explanation of how creativity works, this results-oriented bestseller trains listeners to move beyond a “vertical” mode of thought to tap the potential of lateral thinking
“The underlying argument of the book is that there are two kinds of thinking—vertical and lateral. Most of us are educated to think vertically, to go from one logical step to the next, moving all the time towards the one correct solution of our problem. We are not usually educated to be creative, to generate idea after idea….
“Dr. DeBono argues that the function of vertical, logical thinking is to argue what is wrong. It is a very useful way of thinking, but it is not the only useful way. To claim it is, is the sort of intellectual arrogance that makes creative thinking unlikely….
- The key to lateral thinking is to look at old ideas in new ways – turn them upside-down, inside-out, and poke holes in them. With classic examples from Edward de Bono, the father of lateral thinking, and a little practice, anyone can learn to remold their thoughts into inventive new solutions.
- There are two modes of thinking:
- vertical thinking – kind of process that takes an idea, solidifies it, and backs it up with data and facts – almost like planting the idea firmly, and deeply, into the ground.
- lateral thinking – about finding other places to start digging.
- the mind is a powerful system for identifying patterns and organizing information. It does this through what’s known as a self-maximizing memory system. That is, we base our ideas on the experiences we remember, the patterns we’ve identified, and the evidence we’ve gleaned from them.
- Lateral thinking is a way of challenging the patterns – of testing them, prodding them, and seeing if they can be updated or improved. Creative and innovative ideas are hard to come by if we don’t challenge the patterns and assumptions our mind is unconsciously making.
- both vertical and lateral thinking are important.
- techniques and exercises that we can use to strengthen our lateral thinking muscles.
- understanding that there’s more than one way to look at something.
- looking for alternatives, with the express intent of shaking up established patterns; then you either find new patterns or update the old ones.
- When you set a firm quota of three to five different ideas, you’re enforcing that good intention and making people engage with lateral thinking.
- With quotas in mind, one of the simplest ways to practice lateral thinking is to come up with descriptions.
- important to stress that every response is valid. In fact, wildly imaginative and highly improbable scenarios can be hugely helpful in inspiring even more ideas and breakthroughs.
- lateral thinking sessions are judgment-free spaces. All ideas are welcome because you never know which one will lead to the big breakthrough.
- When trying to come up with ideas to test and move forward with, lateral thinking can include both a generative stage and a selective stage.
- It’s during the generative stage that judgment must be withheld. Sometimes, testing an idea that may seem foolish will lead to a brilliant new idea entirely.
- You can encourage this uninhibited idea-sharing by getting people to respond to design concepts. This exercise leads to another important part of lateral thinking: identifying dominant ideas.
- Through this process, you may be able to identify different fractions – another useful component of lateral thinking. By breaking the problem down into parts, you can look at it from many more different angles.
- brainstorming is a great way to get the ball rolling when tackling a problem, but there are a few other techniques that’ll get people into a lateral-thinking frame of mind. One such technique is known as the reversal method.
- reversing the conditions of the problem you’re facing.
- provoke lateral thinking – to look at situations in new ways.
- Analogies can serve a similar purpose. if you look at the analogy from all angles, you might arrive at important questions.
- To see things in a different light, you want to look where others don’t and approach the problem from new angles, right? Well, sometimes this means starting at the end.
- the goal is to approach situations from surprising points – and pay attention to what is often overlooked.
- There are two ways of sparking random stimulation:
- exposure generation – The key is to not be looking for anything in particular; don’t go in with an agenda. That kind of mindset is the complete opposite to lateral thinking. So go in with an open mind, and let inspiration strike!
- formal generation – look for random objects, like the nearest red object, and see how that interacts with the problem or challenge you’re facing.