How To Use Lateral Thinking To Solve Problems?

For more than 60 years, lateral thinking has been applied as a technique to solve problems in a creative way. This is a technique used in the business world or work teams that are usually associated with innovative ideas, which when applied correctly can give excellent results.

What is lateral thinking?

Lateral thinking is a term that was coined by Edward Bono, in his book “ New Think: The use of lateral thinking”. In this book the author presents it as a technique to solve problems in a creative way, with unusual solutions.

It is a specific way of organizing thought processes , through strategies and algorithms different from the regular ones, which are dictated by logical and rational thought. These types of thinking techniques are used regularly in the business world. Specifically in those work teams that regularly require innovative ideas.

To better understand this thought, it is necessary to understand its central idea. As soon as we are faced with a problem, it is common for our line of thought to go primarily to the logical, limiting the possible solutions in most cases. Lateral thinking, for its part, seeks to break this pattern, so that possibilities open up for creative and innovative ideas.

Characteristics of lateral thinking

As we explained earlier, lateral thinking is about distancing from the naturally traversed lines of thought. Betting on creative responses, breaking with expectations. In this sense, lateral thinking resorts to techniques and methods that are not those that are naturally associated with organized thoughts.

An example of lateral thinking is provocations. Being a kind of “mental game” intended to find alternative ways to common thoughts. Some of these provocations may be escape dynamics, random words, problem divisions, exaggerations, or analogies.

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Lateral thinking is carried out through four basic elements.

  • Checking assumptions: It is what we regularly call “having an open mind”. This means, distrust the immediate results, prejudices or reasoning that arise when raising the premise. Subjecting each hypothesis to examination, no matter how obvious it may be.
  • Formulation of correct questions: To reach any type of conclusion or solution, it will be of the utmost importance to ask the appropriate questions. So that we can get the answers that you really want to get. In general, the reverse process is followed, looking for solutions and answers instead of questions. But by asking properly framed general questions you can get to specific ones.
  • Creativity: The use of creativity is reinforced and valued, incorporating elements that do not seem clearly related. In order to make novel associations, since it allows new alternatives, changing perspective.
  • logical reasoning: As has been said, logical validity, which establishes the rigor of thought and the deductive and interpretation capacity. It is important in lateral reasoning, to achieve realistic, elementary resolutions in logical and useful terms to reach other alternatives. Without the logical key, lateral reasoning would only aspire to obtain eccentric and frequently irrational resolutions. Once the alternatives have been developed. The logic of lateral thinking makes it possible to explain it and transmit it to others.

Examples of Lateral Thinking

So that you can have a better understanding of what tactics are like in lateral thinking. We are going to give you a couple of examples with riddles.

  • Castaway’s dilemma: A castaway finds himself in need of moving some remains of the shipwreck of his ship to the shore to an island of residence. Among these are a fox, a rabbit, and a bunch of carrots, which you can take on your boat one at a time. How can he take them all on his trip without the fox eating the rabbit and the rabbit eating the carrots?
  • Response: The castaway should take the rabbit first, leaving the fox with the carrots. Later, return and take the fox, leaving it alone on the island and taking the rabbit again. Taking him back to the wreck. He would take the carrots and take them with the fox to the island, making one last trip to fetch the rabbit.
  • The case of the light bulb: How is it possible to puncture a balloon with a needle, without the air escaping and without the balloon bursting?
  • Response: One solution to this riddle is to prick the balloon while it is deflated.

When to use lateral thinking

Lateral thinking can be carried out in various activities both in daily life and in theoretical situations. As we have mentioned throughout this article, this way of thinking to solve situations and conflicts is extremely useful for careers and professions that require creative and agile responses.

In addition, in everyday life using lateral thinking helps to solve problems, obtaining quick and effective results in stressful or difficult situations. Below we will give you some examples of situations in which it would be ideal to use lateral thinking.

  • Innovation: The lateral pass allows you to start developing ideas from different points of view, giving a broader meaning and improving the imaginative capacity.
  • Problem solving: By having different ways of looking at the problem, it gives us the opportunity to have a broader perspective.
  • New alternatives: In each situation there will always be different ways of proposing a solution. Lateral thinking helps to achieve effective and efficient solutions.

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