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Can you laterally think?


Personally I have, until recently, considered ‘lateral thinking’ to be a buzz-phrase. Often when I hear it, my children are preparing a contrived, stupendously hard to answer question, with a blatantly obvious solution – existing only in hindsight. These playful puzzles are designed to be challenging and engaging, and eventually make you smack your own forehead in humility!

Professionally, prior to Indigo, I was a director of a communication & branding company. New projects were wonderful ‘blank canvasses’; ours to fill with stimulating concepts to inspire the client, add value and ultimately deliver custom to their door. Being a creative bunch, meetings would revolve around brainstorming the brief with a view to lucking out on one or two worthy concepts.

Creative solutions are necessary to effect innovation and gain competitive advantage. We draw on everything that makes us individuals and experts – experience, knowledge, successes, failures, resources, etc.  Battling through historical stimuli and our successes & failures, our thinking keeps us ‘on track’ and safe from disaster. Invariably we content ourselves with solutions which are merely cloned copies of previous ideas; albeit marginally altered to feel fresh and satisfactory. Consequently innovation is limited, shortfalls are regurgitated and inherent failure is sown into the fabric of the project.

Dr Edward de Bono’s Lateral Thinking™ workshop provides tools and techniques to bring large numbers of fresh, unforeseen answers to the table.  It does this by hijacking normal thinking patterns and spurring pathways you would not otherwise have reached.

After the focus has been defined, ideas are poured in without restraint. No idea is a bad idea because it is not yet analysed or filtered, that all happens later. The tools and techniques I have learnt from Dr de Bono’s Lateral Thinking™ workshop would have our ‘blank-canvass, dart-throwing’ exercise scrapped as wholly inefficient!

The sheer volume of initial concepts and ideas that can be generated into a compact time period is staggering. During the workshop, six of us working as a team utilised the ‘Random Word’ technique and generated 127 ideas during four bursts of fifteen seconds. That’s over two hits a second. It is noteworthy that not all the ideas would be ‘world changers’ but that’s not the emphasis – six relative strangers from differing backgrounds were ALL being explosively creative towards a collective task.  Think what an experienced team would be able to do – the possibilities are profitable!
What we need is practice, abstraction, experimentation… Playtime.

Just for a moment consider – If it wasn’t difficult what would the answer be?


Craig Clarke, Consultant