Lateral Thinking and How to Develop it as a Skill

The term lateral thinking was coined in 1967 by Edward de Bono. He cites the story of King Solomon where the king orders for a baby to be cut in half and proceeds to announce his judgment based on the responses of the parties claiming to be the baby’s parent. With this example, de Bono tries to tie in “thinking outside the box” with whimsical humor, saying that there is a switch over from the regular state of things to a fresh and unexpected one in such an extreme situation.

In simple words, we can define lateral thinking as a creative thought process or approach that views the problem at hand in a fresh and unusual light without relying much on conventional logic. 

While we’re usually conditioned to succumb to structured thinking patterns, it can keep us from opening up to newer and better ideas. This is precisely why lateral thinking encourages forgoing the expected and obvious in return for the unexpected and invisible. Traditional thinking is vertical – it moves towards the step-by-step logical conclusion based on the data at hand. However, lateral thinking is more horizontal – it generates ideas without considering its logistics in terms of implication and application.

When you are problem-solving, a probable solution might be right there in front of you. But you will not be able to see it if you remain restricted to the conventional thought process. Instead, if you try to implement lateral thinking to discover alternative ways of approaching the problem and start thinking about it in an unusual light, you can broaden your thinking horizons. 

With logic, you work with specific set-in-stone components, but as with playing chess, you work with pre-existing pieces. But what constitutes these pieces? 

In most real-world situations, these pieces are not there; we simply pretend that they are. We accept certain perceptions, specific concepts, and specific limits. Lateral thinking does not aim to meddle with the existing pieces but tries to move the same pieces. 

Lateral thinking is deeply related to our perception. This is where we organize the outside world into these pieces that we can ‘process’. The way you do everything in your life or job is likely the best possible means of doing it, but that does not always hold true. Whether you devise a unique way to do something or have learned a particular approach to accomplishing a task, there will always be potentially different ways to do those things more effectively and efficiently. So, when you apply lateral thinking techniques to search for innovative ways to improve yourself, you can become a thought leader.

How to hone your lateral thinking abilities?

Here are four proven strategies to sharpen your lateral thinking skills:

1. The random entry concept 

de Bono stated that we need to be open to receiving input when problem-solving. We usually generally tend to pay attention and stay focused, however in lateral thinking, it’s okay to let our thoughts wander. For example, you can choose a random word from the dictionary or choose a picture and discover ways to insert them organically into a situation.

2. Alteration

By challenging the obvious, our mind automatically shifts out of the box. Picture a situation and attempt to take out points or details you notice in the picture you chose earlier, modify the story’s order, then see where that takes you. “What if” is the key query here.

3. Reverse wondering

Ask yourself, “what’s the one thing I no longer need to do?” or “what if I stopped doing  XYZ?” Doing the contrary of what traditional knowledge suggests creates the perfect conditions for novel thinking skills.

4. Rolestorming

Think about what someone else would do or how they would think if they were in your shoes. This personage could be a successful enterprise personal, a sports activities figure, a competitor, or maybe a relative. The more “remote”  or opposite of you this person is, the more extra insights you probably will find.

Asking “what if?” in different situations is an excellent method to exercise your lateral thinking skills because it pushes you to consider all possible variations that could transpire. Plus, it encourages you to question pre-existing assumptions and draw intense possibilities that help you break out of your routine thinking patterns. When you think outside of your comfort zone, you’ll be surprised to find that you can do things that seem impossible before. 

This is why lateral thinking is crucial to business success – it can help you identify new opportunities and solutions that may not have been thought of previously. By applying lateral thinking principles, you can better understand how your ideas might work in different contexts.

Why do we need lateral thinking in our professional lives?

Lateral thinkers take care of issues utilizing a circuitous and creative methodology, i.e. thinking that moves from one known idea to a fresh one. 

Today, employers are searching for applicants who can work autonomously without being micromanaged. One can work freely provided they have lateral reasoning capacity, which assists one with reviewing issues according to various perspectives and track down a creative plan of action. 

In an age where change is the only constant, industry scenes are fast changing. This inevitably gives rise to new challenges and issues, which further demand innovative and analytical thinking. In such a scenario, anyone possessing competent lateral thinking abilities stands apart from others due to their ability to think outside the box. Although it sounds cliched, this one skill can help you create a mark in the industry. 

Master lateral thinking with professional courses  

Professional courses train you to tap into your creative resources by creating an environment that encourages curiosity. Curiosity provides an incentive for approaching problems with a horizontal or lateral point of view. Professional courses naturally foster a group of supportive learners who are always trying to broaden their field of knowledge and understanding. 

Professional courses also encourage conversations or debates regarding solutions to a problem that challenges pre-existing opinions. Plus, peer-to-peer learning helps you understand a concept and its underlying mechanisms. 

Here we have listed some professional courses which help enhance your natural lateral thinking abilities.

1. PG Program in Management (11 months)

  • Certification from IMT Ghaziabad
  • One on one mentoring Sessions from Industry Experts
  • Associate Alumni Status from IMT Ghaziabad
  • Earn credits for a Global MBA Degree with Top B-Schools from UK & Australia
  • 85 plus countries’ learner base with 40,000 plus paid learners.
  • 10 Industrial Case Studies
  • 360-degree career assistance
  • Engage in collaborative projects with student-mentor interaction
  • Get personalized, subjective feedback on your submissions to facilitate improvement.

2. Master of Business Administration (MBA) Liverpool Business School (18 months)

  • Get dual degrees – MBA degree from Liverpool Business School and PGP Management from IMT Ghaziabad
  • This course is recognized by World Education Services
  • Experience a one-week induction program at the university campus
  • Be mentored by industry leaders and interact with industrial leaders
  • Advance in your career and receive 360-degree career support
  • Pick specializations that appeal the most to you
  • Receive dual alumni status, one by the Liverpool Business School and another by IMT Ghaziabad

To Conclude

Conventional thinking might be safe and secure, but it has its limitations regarding personal and professional growth. On the other hand, lateral thinking can help you discover pioneering creative solutions. This is why working on your lateral thinking skills is a good investment of your energy and time to help turn a time of crisis like this into an opportunity.

What are the career roles that you can bag after obtaining an MBA degree?

After getting an MBA degree, you can find employment opportunities across all sectors. The top job profiles for MBA graduates are Project Managers, Operations Manager, Brand Manager, Marketing Manager, Market Research Analyst, Sales Manager, HR Executive, Financial Manager/Analyst, Accounting Manager, Risk and Insurance Manager, etc.

How can lateral thinking help your career?

Lateral thinking helps expand your creative thinking and cognitive abilities. You learn to view things from new perspectives and inspect a situation from different angles. You learn to welcome and appreciate new ideas and methodologies. This inevitably makes you deft at problem-solving. As a result, a lateral thinker becomes a valued asset for any company.

Why should one enroll in a PG program in Management?

The post-graduate program in management is made for professionals looking to learn or enhance their managerial skills. The ultimate objective is to improve the existing skillset and enable growth in one’s career. A PG program in Management offers you better career opportunities by allowing students to apply learned concepts in real-life practical scenarios and deepen their understanding of them. It adds to your resume and helps instill leadership and entrepreneurial skills by allowing you to network and encouraging out-of-the-box thinking skills.

Want to share this article?

Plan Your Career in Digital Marketing Today!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our Best Management Course

Get Free Consultation

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Free career counselling from upGrad experts!
Book a session with an industry professional today!
No Thanks
Let's do it
Get Free career counselling from upGrad experts!
Book a Session with an industry professional today!
Let's do it
No Thanks