Number thirteen in a series - number twelve is here.
Edward de Bono writes in "Serious Creativity", how he became interested in the sort of thinking that computers could not do: creative and perceptual thinking. The entry in the Concise Oxford Dictionary reads: "seeking to solve problems by unorthodox or apparently illogical methods.
Lateral thinking is about moving sideways when working on a problem to try different perceptions, different concepts and different points of entry. The term covers a variety of methods including provocations to get us out of the usual line of thought. Lateral thinking is cutting across patterns in a self-organising system, and has very much to do with perception.
For example: Granny is sitting knitting and three year old Susan is upsetting Granny by playing with the wool. One parent suggests putting Susan into the playpen. The other parent suggests it might be a better idea to put Granny in the playpen to protect her from Susan. A lateral answer!
The term "Lateral thinking" can be used in two senses:
Specific: A set of systematic techniques used for changing concepts and perceptions, and generating new ones.
General: Exploring multiple possibilities and approaches instead of pursuing a single approach.
Coming soon to this page will be a summary of de Bono's fundamental principles, and a nutshell guide of techniques.