When we are facing some situations, there are a set of steps that we follow logically, well, lateral thinking is just the opposite of that. What Edward Bono proposed since 1967 was not to follow logic but to alternate “paths”.
How to apply lateral thinking?
- Brainstorm words that have to do with the topic. Somehow this will start coming up with ideas.
- Focus only on aspects of the problem and not on the “whole”. This will help you see essentials more easily.
- Change (minimize or exaggerate) some characteristic of the problem. This seeks to work under expectations.
- Establish analogies or comparisons with other similar situations. This seeks to discard misconceptions or be inspired to reach the goal.
- Reverse the problem, or analyze it from a very different perspective . See how it could be solved if we see it from another sense.
- Divide the problem. Resolving small situations will eventually resolve everything.
Examples of lateral thinking
- Some months have 31 days, others 30, how many months have 28 days?
- Victor dropped his ring into a cup full of coffee, but the ring didn’t get wet. How is it possible?
- What is the animal that has its feet on its head?
- What is the head that has no brains?
- When can you transport water in a strainer?
- How much soil is in a hole that is one meter long by one meter wide and one meter deep?
- The castaway’s dilemma. A castaway needs to take to his island where he spends the night some remains of his ship, which floated on the shore of the island in front of him. There he has a fox, a rabbit and a bunch of carrots, which he can carry in the boat only one per trip. How can you take everything to your island, without the fox eating the rabbit, and the rabbit eating the carrots?
- The elevator dilemma. A man who lives on the tenth floor of a building takes the elevator to the ground floor every day to get out. In the afternoon, he takes the same elevator again, but if there is no one with him, he goes up to the seventh floor and the rest of the floors go up the stairs. Why?
- The balloon paradox. How can we puncture a balloon with a needle, without the air leaking and the balloon bursting?
- The bar’s dilemma. A man walks into a bar and asks the bartender for a glass of water. The clerk searches under the bar and suddenly points a gun at the man. The man thanks and leaves. What happened?
- The coal, the carrot and the hat. Five pieces of charcoal, a whole carrot and a fancy hat are lying in the garden. Nobody has lost them and they have the same time on the ground. How did they get there?
- The case of Adam and Eve. An ordinary person dies and reaches paradise. Among so many strangers in the place, he immediately recognizes a couple: Adam and Eve. How do you recognize them?