Guide to mastering lateral thinking in your company 

Guide to mastering lateral thinking in your company 

Creativity has always been a differential and demanded skill for the personal and professional development of people. Thinking outside the box to discover and propose new ideas to solve problems is the base of lateral thinking.

Innovative companies that stand out for their diversity are the ones that promote lateral thinking. With these the possibilities become infinite and the benefits are evident. 

Check the steps you need to take to implement lateral thinking in your company and thus boost the development of your teams to the next level:

1. Think outside the box

According to Edward de Bono, a psychologist from Oxford University, we must always look for new ideas, get out of our comfort zone, and change our perspectives. This will allow us to leave aside the business stereotypes and traditional concepts that belong to the society of which we all are part.

Through this process, we can change our perceptions to develop new ideas within companies, which would not have been possible with vertical or logical thinking.

This is how breaking outside the box allows us to multiply the possibilities and create new rules that adapt to the ideas developed. Imagination becomes infinite and all members of the company must do the same to understand, analyze, and accept the new creative limits of the employees.

A practical example to expand the limits of the mind is the use of the question “why” until arriving at multiple alternatives with a satisfactory explanation. By applying this question several times to an issue or situation, we are able to generate creative concerns that lead us to rethink the everyday models to which we are used to.

If a company usually has all its face-to-face group meetings on Tuesday mornings, applying the question “why” can lead us to discover alternatives, for example, holding meetings online and not necessarily on Tuesdays. Accepting the new possibilities that arise during the process is the first step in opening the doors to creativity.

2. Unlock your creativity

With open horizons, it is important to encourage the development of creative ideas. In the words of Edward de Bono:

“Creativity and simplification complement each other greatly. New alternative ways of doing things must be found”.

However, not just any idea, because it is different and simple, will be effective. These ideas must have value, which will provide successful business proposals.

A good creative stimulus is visual resources. For example, a photograph allows us to practice creative interpretations, not only of our models of acquired knowledge, but it also allows us to combine those models, transfer them to other contexts and even develop new alternatives.

From product photography, multiple ideas can emerge, from the most obvious to the most abstract:

  • Description of the graphic representation.
  • Explanation of what we see in the image.
  • Projection of the future of the product.
  • Imaginative alternatives that can be as diverse as the user’s imagination.

3. Go ahead of the problem

Human beings are used to reacting to their environment. In business environments, it is common for employees to wait for a problem to arise before doing something.

In contrast, lateral thinking seeks proactivity and courage to bet on ideas without fear of failure. The truth is that not all ideas are a success, but that should not be a limit to expand the creative limits and anticipate possible problems that may arise.

There can be multiple solutions to any problem. For example, when faced with a situation, there are three general solutions that can be adapted to each case:

  1. Overcoming the difficulty.
  2. Plan or create something new.
  3. Eliminate what is causing the problem.

These three generic aspects can be applied in advance when developing a proposal in a business campaign. This way, not only several creative alternatives are included, but also a future forecast of possible changes during the situation.

In some proposals, the three aspects can be extended and even assumptions can arise that lack a satisfactory solution. However, this process expands the limits of imagination and generates feedback without having to wait for a mistake to be made.

4. Consider randomness

Once we have moved out of our comfort zone and our creativity offers valuable ideas to anticipate problems, it is important to consider the random factor, that is, anything that is beyond our control, but still has a chance to occur and affect us.

Stimulating lateral thinking by taking into account elements that have no obvious relationship with the situation allows us to evaluate forced relationships and discover new solutions that would not have been possible from a limiting way of thinking.

An effective technique is the use of randomly chosen words on a specific context or topic. The use of the dictionary is recommended. This way the limitations of logical thinking are overcome through the incorporation of new variables into the model. The restructuring prevents the influence of archetypes and encourages multiple alternatives, no matter how likely we think such situations are.

5. Apply inverse logic

Vertical thinking is totally opposite to lateral thinking, the first one focuses on everything that has coherence according to common sense and traditional logic to which we are used to.

Lateral thinking allows us to break free and explore inverted situations and assumptions never consider before. This allows us to go deeper into inverted situations that do not follow the logical order of things. With this process, we manage to see solutions, and analogies never raised before.

For example, a company that designs doors can consider multiple investments:

  • Doors that are not rectangular.
  • Reverse opening systems.
  • Opening system by facial recognition.
  • Complete uniformity of design.

Some assumptions may seem simple, however, this does not matter, the main idea is to let the assumptions flow freely, to do this you can reverse one aspect or even an interpretation of the subject. 

In short, this guide has all the basis for applying lateral thinking in business environments and turning work into a more innovative, participatory, and conscious experience

We live in a competitive and uncertain environment, therefore getting out of your comfort zone and betting on new valuable proposals is the key to the survival of companies. Bet on lateral thinking in your company and the changes will surprise you.

Gamelearn is the world leader in the development of video games for corporate training. With more than 10 years of experience, it has become the benchmark for game-based learning and the foremost trend within the L&D sector.

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