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Lateral Thinking
The simplest way to describe lateral thinking is to say: "You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging the same hole deeper." This emphasizes the searching for different approaches and different ways of looking at things.

With "vertical thinking" you take a position and then you seek to build on that basis. The next step depends on where you are at this moment. The next step has to be related and logically derived from where you are at this moment. With lateral thinking we move "sideways" to try different perceptions, different concepts, different points of entry. In some ways the changing of perceptions and concepts is the basis of the creativity that involves new ideas.

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The following section describes two techniques that can be used to enhance lateral thinking capacity: the creative pause and challenge.


This is a very brief pause, within the mind of the thinker, to consider whether there might be an alternative or another way of doing things. There is the willingness to give creative attention to any point. In the smooth flow of thinking or discussion many things are taken for granted. The creative pause allows the thinker to pause a little bit longer to look at something.

We normally think only about problems and difficulties that force our attention. Yet powerful creative results can be obtained by focusing on matters that everyone else has ignored. The simple focus is not an attempt to generate new ideas but a willingness to note a point as a potential focus for creative effort.


The creative challenge is one of the most fundamental processes of lateral thinking. The creative challenge is not an attack, a criticism, or an attempt to show why something is in adequate. It is a challenge to uniqueness: "Is this the only possible way?" The creative challenge assumes that something is done in a certain way for reasons that existed before and may or may not still exist. In all cases, there may be a better way of doing things.

The creative challenge can be directed at the matter itself but can also be directed at traditional thinking about the matter. The challenge can also be directed at the thinking that is taking place H any moment: "Why do we have to look at it this way?" The challenge can be directed at the factors that shape our thinking: dominating concepts, assumptions, boundaries, essential factors, avoidance factors, and either/or polarizations. With the challenge we take a direct look at these factors to see if they are really necessary.

Source of Reference:
Edward De Bono, Serious Creativity: Using the Power of Lateral Thinking to Create New Ideas, Harper Business. You can obtain this fine book here

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