There are many ways to solve problems using logical thinking, mathematics is one of them. However, when it comes to finding solutions to problems where logical thinking has reached a dead end, some outside the box creative thinking is required.
The challenge is how to be a creative thinker? In a world that demands order and structure, creativity has taken a back seat to the day to day pressures of living in this logical world.
Lateral Thinking is a term coined by Dr. Edward de Bono to describe a way of looking at a problem from a totally different perspective, angle or different pair of glasses.
The problem is how does one do that?
Some people posses this ability naturally, artist for example. The rest of us however, need to develop that skill, but how?
The answer if difficult to explain because we habitually process information with a logical mind. Creative thinking by its very nature does not follow logic.
The challenge to finding creative solutions to a problem, is allowing yourself to get silly, even a little crazy. Creative thinking will seem ridiculous if you’re not accustom to it.
Logical thinking, an important part of innovation often requires a creative spark to ignite a whole new direction for logical thought to pursue. That is the purpose of lateral thinking, to ignite that creative spark.
There are only three ways problems are solved. Come up with a totally new idea, improve on a current idea or combine two or more ideas in a new way.
Often we gather in groups to have a brain storming session. These “think tanks” work well because of the flow of unique perspectives each participant contributes and receives from the others. One thought or suggestion from one participant can spark a new idea in another and a chain reaction of innovation develops. It is this “random outside stimulus” that ignites the spark of having an original thought.
One practical way to develop your creative thinking abilities using lateral thinking is to employe random outside stimulus. History is full of examples were an unconventional solutions were found to seemingly impossible problems.
Hollywood is great for using lateral thinking as the turning point in movies. For example in the movie “Independence Day” the human race is doomed to be eradicated by an Alien invasion. Actor Jeff Goldblum’s character, David is feeling defeated and gets drunk for the first time in his life. He is found by his father on the concert floor and his dad tells Jeff to get up off the concrete floor before he catches a cold. This sparked an idea in Jeff’ to plant a virus in the aliens computers.
A little lateral thinking turns the tables on the nasty aliens and you’ll have to watch the movie to see how it works out. The point is it took the random outside stimulus, the word “cold” to trigger the idea of planting a computer virus. From their logical thinking carried the plan out.
So when your stuck on a problem and need some creative thinking to solve it, pick up a dictionary and open to a random page and choose the first word on the page as a source of stimulus to trigger your lateral thinking. Think about all the aspects of that word and write them down. Think about all the crazy and weird ways you can apply those different aspects to your problem. Get silly, get crazy write everything down then after go over all the silly crazy ideas and see if something appears that has real merit.