Lateral Thinking

How to Think outside the box

The box that is usually talked about is not by definition the “mind” in its biological form however is more of the boundary within the mind, a boundary between what we know and what we still have to experience of know. The boundaries that effect our thinking include:

  • The environment

  • The school environment “learning what other people have taught before”

  • Become a consumer for what other people have created

Our society works in a way of using already established ideas and promoting those established ideas with education, however critical thinking works by creating ideas and seeing new ways of interpreting reality.

So how do we change the established method of Thinking?

The only way we can challenge an established idea is through conflict of the old established idea that can be done in 2 ways:

Creative thinking process

This idea generation process of thinking out of the box is called lateral thinking, while creativity is the development of a result the creative process stems from the internal generation of ideas. These ideas is what challenges the traditional thinking and old-established ideology.

Many times we tend to come up with a new idea as the brain finds patterns that are out of the norm of daily monotonous thinking. The brain has the ability to identify patterns and look for solutions, however, most of us don’t act and keep using old methods that are dysfunctional and outdated and that reduces the generation of new ideas and reduces the possibility of evolving into to areas.

The example of business systems

Many businesses operate on established Standard operating procedures which might have pretty well back in the day however because the employee does not challenge this idea there is no new creative process and the business stagnates. This problem of rigid ingrained thinking is the problem that results in businesses or institutions becoming outdated and loosing out.


Professions are established roles that are dominated by a period of training and have established roles that require a formal qualification, however, how many professions really oppose the traditional thinking systems to generate new ideas? how many of these professions find faster ways to solve problems becoming more flexible?

Traditional thinking (Vertical) vs Lateral thinking

The traditional way in which humans think is vertical, a step by step process where problems are avoided and conformity is the norm, however this type of thing is open to little change and novelty is limited. In vertical thinking systems conflict and new ideas are seen as problematic as they might cause disruption. However without new ideas how can a business, or profession or system work in the long run? It can’t.

Lateral thinking deals with generating new creativity from process that uses information as to better an end goal or result changing the outcome overtime. unlike traditional vertical thinking that uses information as a “reassurance” that the process is kept in line, lateral thinking makes sure the process generates new information that creates alternative venues of growth.

Vertical thinking is a step by step process that enables us to carry out a task, for example running a surgical outpatients clinic by following steps and protocols, lateral thinking enables us to run the task (such as a clinic) in a new way and maintaining the steps needed for safe and effective patient care.

Although both are very different they both need each other to make a system of thinking work. The vertical aspect helps us run the process and the lateral aspect helps us run the process in a different area by questioning the reasons behind that process.

Reality is in the eyes of the beholder controlled by a system on conformed thinking

What is reality?

Reality is the interpretation and collection of information from the environment that our brain tries to absorb. However this is different for all people how they individually interpret reality.

Example a ramen shop in Italy !

Lets say you are an Italian traditional guy who lives in Naples and is surrounded by espresso, pizza and pasta, and one day you see the lack of available asian foods in that area. After gathering information about the possibility outcomes of business success or failure you try to set up on opening a new concept in your area, you want to open a traditional japanese ramen shop exactly like the ones found in Tokyo.


A concept idea of non traditional thinking.

What is the problem?

Your idea has conflict within the traditional thinking system of your neighborhood. However, as we said before thinking out of the box is not conformitive but in a way entrepreneurial. This conflict and exploration of a new concept is what is the creative process of thinking outside the box which in the case of a business concept my create a new venue and a new niche that has not been explored before and might actually provide a great amount of profit compared with traditional systems of business.

In life we are exposed to information on a daily basis and on a daily basis we are exposed to problems. The way in which we tackle these problems can be two fold. Either accept the ingrained method of problem solving such as building a wider road to take more cars or find a new way of transport that eliminates the cars and thus reduces travel time and saves the environment.

Many things are usually taken for granted however life is full of new assumptions and new ideas that we generate on a daily basis. in order for us to use these generated ideas and on follow we must utilize creative thinking and modify the information we have in order to challenge common assumptions and create alternative ways of thinking about these assumptions.

The lesson here is do not accept established assumptions unless you challenge them !

error: Content is protected !!