Lateral Thinking

A few weeks ago we were introduced to the term “lateral thinking”. As a student I wrote down the term and forgot about till I watched last week’s episode of The Gruen Transfer where the term had come up again about toothpaste. I felt this term needed more exploration.

Lateral thinking is a term coined by Edward De Bono. Lateral thinking is part of the creative thinking process. Something we all seem to struggle with at one point or another.

Lateral thinking is a critical process thought that explores other options within problems. It does not use the step by step process which is used in logical thinking. An example from the Gruen Transfer was:

Problem – “How can sell more toothpaste?”:

A logical solution would be to rise the price of toothpaste

A lateral solution would be to increase the size of the hole in which the toothpaste comes out.

From that other solutions would be thought out. In other words the creative thinking process would never end, it is always continuing. According to De Bono there are four types of thinking tools which are:

  1. Idea generating tools that are designed to break current thinking patterns – routine patterns, the status quo
  2. Focus tools that are designed to broaden where to search for new ideas
  3. Harvest tools that are designed to ensure more value is received from idea generating output
  4. Treatment tools that are designed to consider real-world constraints, resources, and support

From just these tools we, as designers should be able to get multiple solutions to the same problems. Already in this project we’ve come up with many solutions to a problem.

I plan to get a copy of Lateral thinking by Edward De Bono later in the year.

For futher reading on Lateral thinking:

http://www.edwdebono.com/debono/lateral.htm

http://www.folj.com/lateral/ <– Lateral thinking puzzles quite fun actually.

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