Lateral Thinking: A Simple Definition
Ideas Creativity

Lateral Thinking: A Simple Definition

Vishal Agarwal

Lateral thinking is a way of creating “outside the box” solutions to a certain problem. When we think of a way out to a crisis, it is usually direct and straightforward but lateral thinking allows you to imagine from a counter perspective. It is a way of “horizontal thinking” where you find answers that are not immediately apparent.

Lateral Thinking was introduced by the famous psychologist Edward De Bono. Lateral Thinking is required precisely in two important fields i.e. marketing and advertising. It is an approach which is usually learned by people who have already studied arts or graphic designing at school.

Here are some of the ways your can improve your lateral thinking skills:

It can be very challenging to improve lateral thinking naturally to some people as compared to others. However, like everything else we learn, practice will take you there and refine it more and more with time.

Here are some exercises which you can do to refine your lateral thinking

Mind Mapping:

Wherever logical thinking does not work, mind maps will contribute largely to solve the problem. Because mind maps are visual aids, they involve your brain to adapt its thought processes, which can often help find answers when you are not expecting them. Mind maps allow you to pull all your ideas on a paper and that lets you sit back and gather your thoughts without worrying about losing the things which you have already thought about.

Using your senses:

The sense of smell, touch, taste, and hearing allows you to solve problems but what happens when you use all of them to solve crises. Typically, humans use their visual sense to work things out but using more than 1 simultaneously can have great results.

For example: If you face a problem, why not speak about them aloud or maybe record them somewhere? When you listen to them back, it is more likely you may find something which you would have missed otherwise.

Reverse thinking

Reverse thinking means analysing what people usually do in a particular situation and doing the exact opposite of the same. If you find yourself only getting so far into a problem and then getting stuck, you might as well start at the end and work backwards.

For example: Look at any crises and see what the ideal solution is to that problem. From there, you can begin working backwards to find the very beginning point to your solution.

Lateral thinking is also widely used nowadays in different careers such as Marketing, Management, Media, and Advertisements. It is a form of which is being known and accepted by people more and more now.

You too can think laterally, it just takes practice! Here are some ways to promote lateral thinking:

  • Let go of rigid patterns of thinking.
  • Try to think outside the existing ideas, paradigms, and boundaries.
  • Try to think of other ideas you wouldn't normally consider.
  • Try to approach everything from a different or even unconventional angle.
  • Change your thought process and mindset.
  • Do creative exercises.

What did you think? Can you name any times in your life when lateral thinking came in handy? Let us know in the comments below!