Lateral Thinking Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: Lateral Thinking brings forth a new approach to the problem-solving process by proving how creativity and ditching vertical thinking can enhance the brain’s efficiency and make it find new ways of looking at a problem from new, innovative angles and outside-the-box perspectives.

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Lateral Thinking Summary

We are taught that certain problems have specific solutions. In some cases, this is true. But along the way, this approach to solving problems can inhibit our creative minds. It can lead to unilateral thinking based solely on facts. Moreover, we get used to only using familiar approaches to solve problems. Thus, we lose our ability to think creatively.

Children are our primary example of how a creative mind is an active mind. They’re always looking to learn more about what surrounds them. They solve their issues with what they have on their hands. Borrowing this trait will help you find unique and innovative solutions.

Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono teaches you how to look at a problem from different perspectives. Challenging your thinking patterns gives you more ways of looking at a certain matter. Vertical thinking is great for analyzing facts, numbers, and data. Lateral thinking is ideal for one-of-a-kind problems that require innovative thinking models. 

Here are my 3 favorite lessons from the book:

  1. Lateral thinking is not necessarily native, so it can be apprehended. 
  2. Use the reversal technique to deal with a persistent problem.
  3. Train your lateral thinking through cross-disciplinary fertilization.

If these lessons seem interesting to you, stick around, as I’ll explore each and every one of them in detail!

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Lesson 1: Everyone can learn lateral thinking, although they have an inclination for data and facts.

Growing up, society tells us that there are essentially two types of people. There are the ones that prefer numbers and the ones that prefer artistic or creative fields. Certainly, this assumption is not completely untrue, but it can do more damage than good. People from either category tend to focus on their native inclinations while ignoring the other completely.

Our world as we know it is based on vertical thinking. Everything revolves around data and facts. However, creative processes are essential for human development, so we ought to learn how to think laterally. If you’re the vertical thinking type, it can be harder to do so. But actively challenging your beliefs and looking at a problem in a non-conventional manner is what you should do.

Lateral thinking implies looking for alternatives to start your chain of thoughts. Instead of basing it on science and facts, look for fresh perspectives in your mind. Set a quota if you need to, and try to think of two, three, or five new ideas for your problem. However, it’s important to know when to use this type of thinking. When there’s a proven solution for an issue, such as a firefighter battling fire with water, there’s no need to jump far from this approach.

Still, lateral thinking is particularly important when constructing strategies, coming up with visions, or challenging the old ways of dealing with an issue. When doing so, it’s important to conduct brainstorming sessions. You can do this by yourself or with a team. And validate every answer you get. If you start responding negatively to a certain solution, even though it may seem absurd, your brain will shut down the creative process and retreat to old patterns instead.

Lesson 2: Along with brainstorming, the reversal method is great for solving problems.

Brainstorming is one of the most effective ways of solving a problem creatively. By teaming up with other people and sharing ideas in a constructive environment, there’s a strong chance that an innovative solution will pop up. The first stage of a brainstorming session is sharing ideas in a non-judgemental manner.

Then, the selection process starts. We highlight the dominating ideas and then the process focuses on them. This lateral thinking form of thought is great for coming up with fresh perspectives for a problem. However, there is another way of addressing issues – through the reversal technique.

Instead of looking for the cause-effect model, reverse them. For example, you could say “the parents are educating their kids” or “the kids need to be educated by their parents”, or even “are the kids educated by their parents?” By doing this, you challenge your mind to actively think of the problem from different angles and address each one until it creates a solution.

Lastly, use analogies to help yourself find a solution. By associating the problem with something familiar, your brain may come up with new alternatives. Generally, you’ll want to think of your mind as a tool that you need to sharpen always. To do so, twist the problem, tweak it or play with it. Do everything that feels like it will get you the results you’re looking for.

Lesson 3: The random exposure and the formal generation techniques to develop your lateral thinking.

There are many ways to train your lateral thinking. Throwing yourself into new situations and exploring the world outside your comfort zone, for example. You can start by engaging with conversations outside your area of expertise, reading books outside your usual study materials, or just trying anything new for a chance.

To achieve something new, you’ll first have to do what you don’t usually do. Innovation comes from exploration, so don’t be afraid to throw yourself into the unknown and even fail in some cases. We call this technique random exposure, and for a reason! Everything about this way of training your lateral thinking is random, so don’t try to rationalize it and just allow yourself to explore new activities.

Formal generation is the name of the second method, as it implies looking for random tools you have on your hand to solve the problem you’re facing. For example, you could open the dictionary and use the first word you see to try and fix your issue, or just look for the nearest object and make use of it. Essentially, you don’t need to back up your actions with facts, data, or too much thought. 

Instead, make use of your intuition and let your creative mind wander and explore. You’ll be surprised at how much you gain from such exercises, as you may not realize how much you let your biases and judgemental thoughts run your decisions on a daily basis.

Lateral Thinking Review

Lateral Thinking explores numerous ways to optimize your thinking models and integrate creativity, alternation, and innovation into your problem-solving approach. Reading this book will teach you how to become a free thinker and rely on more than just vertical thinking in your life. It is full of techniques and habits one can start implementing right away to see results.

Who would I recommend the Lateral Thinking summary to?

The 30-year-old leader who wants to increase their team’s performance and find new solutions for their problems, the 40-year-old person bored of the mundane, and anyone who wants to rely on more than just the one way of thinking they were taught at school.

Last Updated on May 19, 2023

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Maria Deac

While working with my friend Ovi's company SocialBee, I had the good fortune of Maria writing over 200 summaries for us over the course of 18 months. Maria is a professional SEO copywriter, content writer, and social media marketing specialist. When she's not writing or learning more about marketing, she loves to dance and travel all over the world.