Definition: Lateral thinking is a term coined by Edward de Bono, renowned psychologist, physician and author to describe a problem-solving approach that involves thinking outside the conventional patterns and exploring create and unconventional solutions. Unlike traditional “vertical” thinking which follows logical step-by-step processes, lateral thinking encourages looking at problems from unexpected angles and making non-obvious connections.
In lateral thinking, the emphasis is on generating new ideas, concepts, and approaches that may initially seem unrelated or even absurd. This divergent thinking allows individuals to break free from fixed patterns of thought and explore innovative possibilities. Lateral thinking is especially valuable in situations where traditional methods have failed to yield solutions or when a fresh perspective is needed to overcome challenges.
The concept of lateral thinking has been extensively explored and popularized by Edward de Bono in his book titled “Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step,” first published in 1970. In this book and subsequent works, de Bono outlines various techniques and exercises to develop lateral thinking skills and foster creative problem-solving.
One of the key concepts de Bono introduced in “Lateral Thinking” is the concept of “po” (from the Chinese term “biángpō”), which represents the moment when a person encounters a sudden change in perception, leading to a new idea or solution.
Overall, lateral thinking encourages individuals to explore uncharted territories of thought and embrace the power of creativity to find unique and innovative solutions to challenges. It is a valuable skill for individuals and teams seeking to break free from mental constraints and discover fresh perspectives in problem-solving and decision-making processes.