Logical thinking is vertical thinking, digging the same hole deeper in order to get a more correct hole. The right hole. The search for perfection. We need vertical thinking and we are already very good at it. Most of Western education is based on logical, step-by-step, vertical thinking. It is useful but it is not enough.
Lateral thinking is escaping from the hole in order to dig a hole somewhere else, perhaps sideways. The search for more alternatives, for reappraisal, for new possibilities and extra choices. We need much more lateral thinking because lateral thinking creates value.
Flashback to 1979
In 1980 I completed the world’s first PhD in Lateral Thinking conducting an idea-generation experiment I designed with 26 hospitals in New York. My project included a 30-day campaign in which 40,000+ hospital employees generated 33,000+ bvs ideas to the immediate value of over USD$10 million (1979 dollars). Employees were taught how to think up BAD ideas, ideas that could save the hospitals a Buck-A-Day (BAD). It was the first time in history that 26 NYC hospitals had ever co-operated in any enterprise. The x10 results were astounding and became national news – New York Times, Wall Street Journal and network news.
‘Alternatives’ with Edward de Bono
My PhD supervisor was the late Dr Edward de Bono, the Cambridge Professor of Investigative Medicine, who originally coined the term ‘lateral thinking’.
Here, we’ll go back in history to 1982 when Edward recorded a BBC series on lateral thinking and here is his lesson on “Alternatives”. The total lesson is 24 minutes divided into three clips: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. I think you’ll enjoy Edward’s excellent presentation:
• Part 1 of 3
• Part 2 of 3
• Part 3 of 3