Nowadays everything has to be creative, and the demand for breakthrough ideas is higher than ever. It’s not enough anymore to be just an expert in your field or produce just high quality products. Creative jobs and professions, technologies and devices, vision and approaches; slogans, everywhere inviting to make our lives more creative and imaginative… Trends are changing fast, competition is fierce, and budgets are usually tight.

But is this highly demanded creativity something inherent, or it can be learnt? And if it can be nurtured, then how?
Edward de Bono has both the answer and solution. He has proved that creativity is a skill and it can and should be cultivated. He developed an elaborate, effective and systematic method, and coined a term for it: lateral thinking.

Lateral thinking is opposed to “vertical” logic, a traditional way of step-by-step thinking and problem solving. It also has nothing to do with “horizontal” imagination, when many ideas coexist without any particular implementation of them.

In contrary, lateral thinking solves problems through an indirect and creative out-of-the-box approach. It often seeks for solutions using apparently irrational means, methods usually ignored by our “normal” logic. It just tears apart conventions and sequences, breaking all limitations.

“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” – Edward de Bono

Lateral thinking has powerful tools to take your mind away from typical and predictable solutions to problems, to see new possibilities and generate completely new ideas instead.

Lateral thinking has powerful tools to take your mind away from typical and predictable solutions to problems, to see new possibilities and generate completely new ideas instead.

These are 7 mental techniques helping produce outside the box ideas, which may turn out to be novel and useful solutions:

  • Alternatives: Go beyond obvious answers and solutions to generate new ideas. Sometimes we don’t even look for alternatives at all, because it’s so easy to use something familiar again and again.
  • Focus: Sharpen or change your focus to improve your creative efforts.
  • Challenge: Break free from the limits of accepted ways of thinking, don’t get stuck with conventions.
  • Random entry: Use unconnected input to discover new directions of thinking.
  • Provocation: Move from a provocative statement to new and useful ideas.
  • Harvesting: Select the best of early ideas and shape them into usable approaches.
  • Treatment of ideas: Develop ideas and shape them into solution for your problem.

To see how it works, check the article How to Apply Lateral Thinking to Your Creative Work. You can find a lot of other lateral thinking puzzles online, for example, here. They are a great exercise and challenge for the brain. Play in a team, and a lot of insights, fun and a good time are guaranteed.

If you are curious to learn more about lateral thinking, here is information on the most “official” online lateral thinking course by Dr Edward de Bono center, or search for other courses and programs near you. Also, read some of De Bono’s books to grasp the ideas, for instance, the book Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step.

Lateral thinking methods are universal and can be applied both to big strategic planning and everyday issues. It can be used by individuals, companies and teams to solve tough problems and create new ideas, new products, new processes and new services.

We do use it in our office, and it brings not just a fresh outlook and innovative ideas, but also a lot of humor and joy on the way.

Give it a try! And we are looking forward to hearing your new ideas.