Vadim Kotelnikov    

Lateral Thinking

Look for Wider Solution


Business e-Coach  Success 360  Kore 10 Tips




Lateral Thinking DOs and DON'Ts, Vadim Kotelnikov



Lateral Thinking is:

  • seeking to solve a problem by non-conventional, apparently illogical means.

  • a process and willingness to look at things in a different way.

  • a new type of thinking that complements analytical and critical thinking.

  • a creative problem solving Download PowerPoint presentation, pdf e-book tool that helps create new ideas, new products, new processes and new services.

  3 Levels of Your Creativity Download PowerPoint presentation, pdf e-book



Lateral Thinking versus Vertical Thinking

Vertical Thinking

Lateral Thinking



Looks for what is right

Looks for what is different

One thing must follow directly from another

Makes deliberate jumps

Concentrates on relevance

Welcomes chance intrusions

Moves in the most likely directions

Explores the least likely directions

Understanding Right / Left Brain Functions

  • The right brain controls your creative, spatial concepts.

  • The left brain controls your logical... More

Lateral Thinking Tricks for Generating New Ideas

  • Pick a random unrelated word (example: window + flying)

  • Suggest the outrageous (example: no one drives cars anymore)

  • Imagine or ask people to do the opposite (example: students teach, teachers take notes; or customers sell, sellers evaluate the product they are offered)

Lateral Thinking Defined

Lateral thinking is about restructuring a questions or problems.

Lateral thinking is concerned with generation of new ideas. It is also concerned with "breaking out of the concept prisons of old ideas."1

Turn Problems to Opportunities: 6 Tips



Lateral Thinking versus Vertical Thinking

Lateral thinking is not a substitute for vertical thinking. Both are required they are complementary: lateral thinking is generative, vertical thinking is selective. For instance, during brainstorming meetings, you encourage lateral thinking during the first session to generate as much creative solutions as possible, and vertical thinking during the second session to select the feasible ideas.

In traditional vertical type of thinking (logic or mathematic), you move forward by sequential steps each of which must be justified. You select out only what is relevant. You must be right at each stage in order to achieve a correct solution.

In lateral thinking, you may deliberately seek out irrelevant information you use information not for its own sake but for its effect. You may have to be wrong at some stage in order to achieve an innovative and correct solution.

Loose-Tight Leadership

Ask Searching Questions

Don't ask one or two questions and then rush straight towards a solution. With an incomplete understanding of the problem it is very easy to jump to wrong conclusions.

Ask open-ended questions that elicit a wide rage of answers:

  • 'Why' questions  to discover the roots of the problem

  • 'How' questions to discover different routes to significant improvement  >>>

4 WHYs of True Success

Radical Improvement: 10 Tips

The Power of Cross-Functional Excellence

If you build broad cross-functional expertise, no idea will be wasted!

Systemic Innovation: 7 Areas Download PowerPoint presentation, pdf e-book

IDEO's 6 Innovation Practice Tips

Your mind can accept only those ideas that have a frame of reference with your existing knowledge. It rejects everything else. If your knowledge is functionally focused, you'll be open to new ideas related to your functional expertise only and will miss all other learning and innovation opportunities.

If you develop a broad cross-functional expertise, no new idea will be wasted. It will immediately connect with the existing knowledge and will inspire  you, energize you, and encourage your entrepreneurial creativity Download PowerPoint presentation, pdf e-book. The broader your net, the more fish you catch... More




Case Studies Encouragement of Lateral Thinking at GE Work-Out

At GE Work-Out, participants are made feel the urgency to change things and begin to see the whole picture of the situation. Then, they are ready to focus on new ideas.  How can the process be improved? What can be done differently to achieve the stretch goal?

"Using the process map as a starting point, Work-Out asks participants to brainstorm ways of achieving the goal, and then provides a structure for quickly sorting through the ideas, selecting the best ones, and developing them into recommendations for change. As with any brainstorming process, Work-Out encourages people to toss out any idea, no matter how minor, how crazy, how seemingly impossible. And the process helps people learn how to build on each other's ideas, combine ideas, and think "out-of-the-box."

In fact, when the old Aetna Insurance Company implemented its version of Work-Out, the program's sponsors called it "Out of the Box."3

 Exercises  Practicing Lateral Thinking

Source: Effective Innovation: How to Stay Ahead of the Competition, John Adair

The Bicycles and the Fly

Two boys on bicycles, 20 miles apart, began racing straight towards each other. The instant they started, a fly on the handlebar of one bicycle started flying straight towards the other cyclist. As soon as it reached the other bicycle, it turned and started back. The fly flew back and forth in this way, from handlebar to handlebar, until the bicycles met.

If each bicycle had a constant speed of 10 miles and hour, and the fly flew at a constant speed of 15 miles an hour, how far did the fly flew?   >>> See the answer




Tagore quotes

The mind sharp, but not broad, sticks at every point but does not move.

Rabindranath Tagore

Edward de Bono creativity advices quotes

You cannot look in a new direction by looking harder in the same direction..

Edward de Bono

Thought Leader

Akio Morita advice quotes Sony

I see true innovation to be made up of three creativities: creativity in technology, in product planning, and in marketing.

Akio Morita




1. Lateral Thinking, Edward de Bono     2. 101 Ways To Generate Great Ideas, T. R.V. Foster     3. The GE Work-Out, D. Ulrich, S. Kerr, R. Ashkenas     4. The Leader's Guide To Lateral Thinking Skills, P. Sloane