Lateral Thinking

May 18, 2009 at 9:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Let’s say for a moment that you are presented with a seemingly impossible task. Say, to walk on water. Many people may dismiss the idea as “ludicrous” and “impossible”.

This is where lateral thinking comes in. Lateral thinking allows you to come up with the idea of, say, freezing the lake and THEN walking over it. At that point, it’s simple. A lot of people will dismiss this as “cheating”, but is it really? Was it listed as a constraint? Why can’t you freeze a lake? It’s been done before. And, then again, what is it that you are REALLY trying to accomplish? Is it to walk on water or do you really just need to cross the lake?

One of the big problems with problem solving isn’t intelligence or complex solutions. It’s the ability to think outside the scope of the framework (“thinking outside the box”). Even smart people can’t do it. The ancient Incas, with all their knowledge and technology, failed to see the wheel. Do you honestly feel that this same cognitive blindness doesn’t occur to you?

If you are a startup guy, a hacker, or someone who just has a “tough problem”, try reading this book:

The main point of it is that you don’t have to be Isaac Newton to come up with clever ideas. There’s just a lot of cognitive tricks in there that can help you understand the problem/solution from a different perspective.

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