For human survival and well-being nothing on Earth is more powerful than lateral thinking.
Lateral thinking is our best defense against the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
Lateral thinking is critically important for the design of a safer and more productive future.
But, the real problem for the future is that humans, as luck would have it, are mostly logical thinkers.
In the last millenium, the missionaries of the medieval Church spread Greco-Roman Logic around the world (the right/wrong binary system). Logic is analytical and very good at judgment.
However, as a side-effect, it makes us very slow subjective thinkers. Today, we call this “inside-the-box thinking”.
Since I returned from the Vietnam war, I have been teaching lateral thinking continuously for 38 years because I could think of nothing more important to do. I hold the first PhD in the world in Lateral Thinking (1980), so, as you would expect, I am very much in favour of it!
In this new millenium, in a post-Darwinian, fast-changing and accelerating, hi-tech, data-processing environment we may need to escape from inside to “outside-the-box thinking”, from binary to trinary thinking.
The purpose of lateral thinking is to create new value ... with speed. Nothing does it better or faster.
In my best-selling book Software For Your Brain (1989, ISBN 09473511088) I presented cvs2bvs as a master cognitive algorithm for lateral thinking.
cvs2bvs (or cvsx10=bvs) is a master algorithm that creates new value through disruptive pattern-breaking, surprise, provocation and acceleration through quantum-leaping.
Important points to consider:
Lateral thinking can create new value ten times faster than logical thinking.
The lateral thinking master algorithm is not subjective. It is algorithmic.
Like juggling, lateral thinking is not natural for humans. It is an acquired skill that needs at least ten hours of skilled coaching and practise just to achieve a basic level of skill.
AI computing systems (being not subjective but algorithmic) are already self-programming to do lateral thinking at an exponential rate of acceleration. Better and better and faster and faster than human intelligence.
When is comes to careers, professions and jobs, human intelligence that cannot do lateral thinking is gradually being left behind (Frey & Osborne 2016).
This has already started to include, for example, doctors, lawyers, insurance salespeople, accountants, pilots, gamers, soldiers, sailors, sports referees, waiters, carpenters, lifeguards, drivers, retail-workers, musicians, journalists, scientists, sex-workers, pharmacists, professors, politicians, farmers, teachers, CRMs, engineers, designers, authors, artists, etc etc.
Based on current trends, by 2030, there may begin to emerge two distinct classes of cognitive exponents (whether they be they carbon or silicon): those that can create new value through skilled lateral thinking and those that cannot.
In terms of boardroom productivity, one class will be value fountains and the other value drains.
Some consequences are already predictable and others will be quite unforseen.
“If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called research.” – Albert Einstein
What is a genuine experiment?
A true experiment is blind. It is when you try something not because you know what will happen but in order to see what will happen.
These are two entirely different strategies. One is inside-the-square and the other is outside-the-square.
My view of the lack of real experimentation in selling and business has been because of a dominant preference for short term gains. So, there is not such a strong tradition for genuine blind experimentation as there is in science. This is one reason why business can be slow adapting to change.
Do you ever wonder why cars aren’t called “horseless carriages” anymore? Today’s cars are just as horseless as they were a century ago. Horselessness is standard equipment on most new and late models, both foreign and domestic.
Framing the question this way may seem a bit absurd; yet, it’s a playful reminder that innovation does not emerge out of nothing. New innovations evolve from historical, iterative processes. The automobile developed out of, and in opposition to, concepts associated with the horse and carriage.
A creative, innovative mind also seeks to move beyond the given categories of thought established by binary frameworks.
Lateral thinking, the ability to move horizontally across different categories of thought.
The creative process is just that: a process.
We need to break out of thinking that is solely based on what we know, what we assume, and what we’ve experienced. Many of us are so entrenched in our industries that we don’t know how to think laterally or horizontally. We usually go a mile deep but only an inch wide. We haven’t given our people and ourselves the time and opportunities to explore other industries, cultures designs, ways of being and doing, and other “adjacent possibilities.”
If you want to take your “car” far beyond horses, even to the moon perhaps, you and your team need to understand how you got to where you are, and look outside of that familiar world to see where you can go.