Thursday, August 3, 2006

Art of Lateral Thinking

Lateral Thinking expert Edward de Bono says With logic, you start out with certain ingredients, just as in chess you start out with given pieces. But what are those pieces? he says. In most real-life situations, the pieces are not given, we just assume they are there. We assume certain perceptions, concepts and boundaries.

One is always confusing conditioned thinking with creative thinking. De Bone explains that Lateral thinking is concerned not with playing with the existing pieces but with seeking to change those very pieces. It is concerned with the perception part of thinking.

Lateral Thinking Story
What is Lateral Thinking? Edward De Bono, father of the concept explains through a simple story. Edward de Bono relates the story of a fat man and a thin man chasing after girls. They are not in a race, he is at pains to point out. That would be too bound by a constraining premise. He explains that a typical, logical approach to the fat man’s inability to catch the girls might be to ascribe his problem to his obesity, which slows him down. Thus the solution would be to put the fat man on a diet and give him athletics training.

A lateral thinker, however, might give him a car, so he can catch up to the girls, and a nice expense account to buy them a good dinner. The point is that one does not eliminate the logical cause of a difficulty. A lateral thinker creatively seeks a positive outcome.

As an amateur coach, I have handled such problems with lateral thinking. A mother once told me that her child hates eggs. I suggested "perhaps, the child doesn't like boiled eggs. Try scrambled, half-boiled or bullet." Later, she came back to thank me. Now her son does love eggs.