Boost your lateral thinking for creative problem solving + exercise


The first definition of the term lateral thinking came in 1967 from Dr Edward de Bono.He has become the world’s leading authority on conceptual thinking and has contributed to development of new tools and approaches to the  organizational innovation, strategic leadership, individual creativity, and problem solving. Present in the innovation industry since 1970. his exclusive strategies and methods have brought remarkable results to organizations and to individuals from a wide range of cultures, educational backgrounds, occupations, and age groups.

So, what is actually lateral thinking? It is a way of thinking that solves problems through an indirect and creative approach, using reasoning that is not immediately obvious and involving ideas that may not be applicable by traditional step-by-step logic.

This kind of thinking requires of you to go beyond the obvious and even to take into account parameters that your traditional logic might easily dismiss.

One really attractive and interesting example is given in this article.

Pretend that you’re trapped in a magical room with only two exits. Through the first exit is a room made from a giant magnifying glass, and the blazing hot sun will fry you to death. Through the second door is a room with a fire-breathing dragon. Which do you go through?

There are many ways we can approach this problem in order to solve it. One way could be using poetry techniques, for example kennings.

Bed of fish, smooth path of ships, island-ring, realm of lobsters, slopes of the sea-king, whale-house, land of the ocean-noise, blood of the earth, frothing beer of the coastline…

These are some of the terms and phrases used by the Viking and AngloSaxon poets to name/describe the sea. The word ‘kenning’ comes from the Old Norse verb að kenna, which means ‘to describe’ or ‘to understand’. Poetry asks us to think and view the world from the different perspective. And kennings question our habitual way of thinking. If we apply this technique to the above problem, we could call sun “object that gives light to the earth, object that brings day… “.

So by using this technique, we could come up to a solution by deducting our thinking: sun, in a day time, in the above example is dangerous for us, but what happens when the day goes by? Darkness. And the answer presents itself: we should wait for the sunset, and the first door is a safe passage for us.

The answer to this puzzle is an example of what psychologists call “lateral thinking”:  instead of going ahead onto the problem, going sideways can present an elegant solution.

So next time you have a project, creative problem you are working on, try to name it, describe it differently, focusing on its  functions and elements and solution might unexpectedly reveal itself.

How often do you use your lateral thinking? 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Boost your lateral thinking for creative problem solving + exercise

  1. This is an excelllent introduction to thinking laterally and to illustrate it with the use of
    Kennings is most helpful. Many people wil not be aware of Kennings as a poetic form, but they offer intriguing insights and playful notions for obects and ideas amd how the world can be perceived, often teasing us with their slant. Thank you Maja for sharing your thinking with us on this.

    Liked by 3 people

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