Lateral thinking

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Stepping Stones-5200
Logical thought, taking you from one step to the next[1].
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Lateral Thinking is a term coined by Edward de Bono for the problems being created by not being able to see the most direct and clear approach. Lateral thinking is the inability of the mind to use logical reasoning and means that the lateral thinker has to use stupid puzzles to think properly

The term first appeared in the title of de Bono's first book, Try Thinking for Once: The misuse of Lateral Thinking[2], released in 1987 but later recaptured, is currently being bred in captivity.

Lateral Thinking

Train tracks-5109
Parallel thought, going parallel with the solution, but never quite getting there[3].

Lateral thinking is most often first recognised when the lateral thinker loses the ability to think critically and they find themselves enjoying music by ßêÿòñçe Knowles and Robbie Williams. Beyond this, the victim often has the inability to remain in one stream of thought, and they rapidly there was once a time that I had three cats and one of them got runned over and it died but I still had two cats have you ever kissed someone and tasted the last person they were kissing at the same time how much wood could a wood chuck assuming that there is Satan means that there must be a God move from concept to concept. Although this does stop them from becoming a fully functioning member of society, it does assist them in getting jobs programming for MTV.

There are four types of "Thinking like a tool" defined in de Bono's Lateral Thinking: The Power of Procrastination manual[4].

Lateral thinking is often used hand in hand with Parallel Thinking and Six Hats thinking.

Tool Thinking

Random Entry Idea Generating Tool

This type of tool person can only think by entering or leaving a room, building or playground in a random fashion. Or a sports ground, an apartment complex, but unfortunately never a person.

2D twisted lattice-1841
Lateral thought, where rather than just going in one direction, or going alongside the direction of the group, go right, go left, then right, then up, then left and I once had three cats...

A person who displays Random Entry Idea Generation loses the ability to think their own thoughts. The only thoughts they can then entertain are those they have hired from others. In order to be more thrifty, it would make sense for them to buy the thought, but unfortunately as soon as the thought of buying it goes in then it starts to seep out again. So in order for a Random Entry Idea Generating person to have an original, individual thought, they focus their lateral thought processes on a pointless, random meandering. This in turn allows their "hire" thought processes to work more effectively.

This is the type of thinking displayed by many high level executives, or new parents.

Provocation Idea Generating Tool

This type of tool person cannot be part of any conversation without throwing in some kind of provocative statement. Those who have attained higher levels of Provocation Idea Generation become more outrageous and provocative in their statements.

The disadvantage here it that the individual cannot complete a paragraph without throwing in at least one provocative statement. That is because homosexuality is a sin and homosexuals should be burned at the stake. Of course the major advantage here is that this does create a new pattern of thought, from which fundamentalistic religions can flourish.

Provocation Idea Generators often end up with jobs as religious ministers, of course, and in current affairs. Do you have lateral thinking? Tune in at nine to find out!

Challenge Idea Generating Tool

This type of tool person always asks the question "WHY?" Ad infinitum. ConstantlyWhy blink. Especially if you're trying Why blink to focus on another Why blink task. The behaviour Why blink is similar to that of a Why blink three year old, but Why blink as a fully grown Why blink adult does not have Why blink the cuteness factor.

Uncyclopedia dispute resolution flowchart
The thought process of a lateral thinker as it relates to dispute resolution and the IT department.

The advantage here Why blink is that the individual Why blink always appears to be Why blink looking for a new way to do Why blink things or a new Why blink way of thinking. Why blink The reality of the Why blink situation of course is Why blink that as they Why blink are constantly asking why, Why blink they never actually Why blink stop to find out Why blink the answer to the Why blink question.

Of course this Why blink behaviour could be Why blink considered aggravating in Why blink the extreme. As Why blink a result the Why blink Challenge Idea Why blink Generator has a Why blink extremely shortened life Why blink span.

Challenge Idea Generators Why blink rarely have jobs Why blink because they are so annoying!

Concept Fan Idea Generating Tool

This type of tool person loves concepts, but cannot see the reality in any situation. For instance, this individual loves to discuss flying cars, but does not understand anything about the internal combustion engine.

The Concept Fan Generator is usually found fiddling in a shed or programming their computer, or starting paragraphs that they never quite finish. Generally what happens is they get halfway through and....

Although initial appearances would suggest that this individual would be extremely creative, due to the inability to see something through to completion they are more often surrounded by projects or articles that they have started but never completed. They are the kind of individual who would say, "Oh, I need to finish that, but I've just started this, so I'll get onto that tomorrow." They would be the type of person who would ask someone for constructive feedback on an article that they had written, for instance, and when they finally had it they....

This tool is also the one referred to in the phrase "when the moose hits the fan", as they are the individual who would design an extremely dangerous machine and get it operational, and then start to work on the safety features for the device and....

The Concept Fan Generator generally works in vehicle design.

Lateral thinking and problem solving

Problem Solving:

Problem solving as it relates to an assembly line. Nobody here is using Lateral thought. Nobody here is thinking. These are the people who made the computer that you're now using. Explains a lot doesn't it?

A level of performance is being met. Then something happens which creates a problem - performance drops. We need to find out who caused the problem and then figure out ways to fix the problem. The objective is to get performance back to where it should be. [5]

For Example: A production line has an established run rate of 1000 books per hour. All of a sudden, the run rate drops to 839 books per hour. Something happened, but we don't know what problem caused the production rate to drop by 161 books per hour. The dead body in the middle of the assembly line may or may not have something to do with it.

Creative problem solving

A level of performance is being met. Something happens which creates a problem - performance drops. You realise that the lack of overall performance can be directly related back to your individual performance. You need to creatively think of a way that you can have the blame put anywhere other than on your shoulders.

For Example: There is a dead body in the middle of the assembly line, and a bloodstained machete in your locker. By taking it of the locker and placing it in the locker of the token black guy, the problem instantly finds a culprit.

Lateral thinking

Lateral thinking, despite being the central tenet of this entire article and not needing to be expanded upon in this small space as that would be superfluous, is something that will be expanded upon here. Lateral thinking differs from problem solving in that problem solving is logical. You are in position A. You can go to position B, which will make things be better, or you can go to position F, which will make things somewhat F'ed. Lateral thinking will instead take you to position π. Thinking like this will eventually make you go μ.


  1. And eventually dumping you in the middle of a river
  2. (de Bono, 1989 Try Thinking for Once: The misuse of Lateral Thinking)
  3. And also taking you to what looks like a prison
  4. (de Bono, 1989 Lateral Thinking: The Power of Procrastination)
  5. This was considered to be a new and revolutionary way of thinking back in the 60s and 70s. de Bono made lot's of money from the sales of his books, and is still receiving royalties.
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