Methods of Creativity: Lateral Thinking

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Many species like dogs, cats, budgies, and even ticks can think. But only a human knows how to think about how he thinks. Furthermore, only a human invents things to make life easier, like UK Assignment Geek.

The culture of modern thinking is based on analysis, judgment, arguments, and criticism; on the discussion as a method of research and logic as the main tool.

What is missing from this list? Creativity, intuition, big and small insights. Only Mendeleev dreamed of the Periodic Table, but each of us from time to time had the feeling that the light flashed and you see the solution.

This solution is verifiable by logic retroactively, but logic has nothing to do with its invention. Logic is a walk along a road, insight is an instant jump from stone to stone. As a student, I needed to master the skills to be successful and be able to write my paper for me easily.

Ullen’s theory of genius explains the thinking of geniuses by the fact that their motivation hormone dopamine is less delayed in the thalamus – the part of the brain where information is filtered.

Thanks to such an innate “weakness” of filters, a bizarre chain of associations, from which logic would have thrown out two or three bright, unnecessary links long ago, leads to the right decision faster, more elegantly, more efficiently than a logical sequence of actions.

But logical analysis has been taught to us since kindergarten. And the attitude to creative, non–banal thinking (the extreme version of which is genius) is completely different: it “comes” to someone by itself and often, to someone much less often, to someone it does not come at all, well, it means “he is not capable”.

Professor-philosopher Edward de Bono once decided that “he is not capable” is just an excuse, and engaged in the invention of methods of stimulation of lateral thinking (from Lat. lateral – lateral).

He came up with ways that help turn off the rigid filters of logic and make our thinking look like the thinking of a genius. They look simple, funny, and in some ways even obvious. But the three Nobel laureates who wrote the forewords to de Bono’s book agree that it works.

The Methodology of Arbitrary Associations

Are you thinking so hard about the problem that there are already calluses on the convolutions, but the right solution does not come in any way?

For example, you hate your rich aunt and are afraid that she will ruin your whole vacation; but you don’t have the money to go yourself, but you still want to go to Hawaii.

Go online and open any photo depicting a process or natural phenomenon. A photo with a volcano opens … If you push your aunt into a volcano during a vacation, then the money inherited will be enough for a trip around the world! How to provide an alibi?

The next photo with a surfer … great, you have to rush into the surf from the beach in a very bright suit in front of hundreds of spectators and swim to the place where an accomplice is waiting with scuba gear in the same suit as yours.

Within an hour, he will perform tricks in front of hundreds of spectators, and you will swim unnoticed to the volcano and push your unforgettable Mrs. Pettigrew there.

PMI Methodology

It is suitable for those situations when you can not decide on a solution in any way. The standard column of pros and cons is good for its visibility, but de Bono advises dividing the page into three columns: plus, minus, and interest.

The “interest” category includes curious consequences of choice, about which it is impossible to say for sure whether they are positive or negative from a strictly logical point of view. Each item in the list is rated with points from plus five to minus five.

Let’s say you’re thinking about the murder of a rich aunt. Plus – you will inherit her millions (plus five!). Minus – prison, if exposed (minus five, alas). It’s interesting – you’ve always wanted to write a thriller about sociopaths, and in prison, there will be both time and material to study (plus two). Total two in the plus. It’s decided – Auntie is doomed!

The Technique of Six Thinking Hats

When thinking about a task, put them on your head in turn, and the analysis will be more detailed, accurate, and comprehensive if you try to think about everything at the same time.

If you are not thinking about this problem alone, put on such hats synchronously, and then you will not have a traditional discussion, but a fruitful step-by-step discussion.

White Hat

Collecting all data without evaluation. (Auntie’s tour schedule, her will, her health…)

The Red Hat

Is emotional. (This aunt is a stingy, selfish bore! I can’t stand her! But do I have the guts?)

The Black Hat

Is critical and analytical. (Can I plan a perfect alibi? And if an accomplice decides to blackmail me? And if an accident happens to him, and everyone sees that he is not me?).

Yellow Hat

Positive, optimistic. (With my aunt’s millions, I will buy myself a steamer, hire a chef with three Michelin stars, and set sail on the Amazon!).

Is critical and analytical. (Can I plan a perfect alibi? And if an accomplice decides to blackmail me? And if an accident happens to him, and everyone sees that he is not me?).

The Green Hat

is productive. Generate ideas without immediately subjecting them to critical analysis, because there is a black hat for this. (And what if you shoot an aunt with a meteorite, and when they find it in the skull, they think it was an accident?).

The Blue Hat

Is a reflection of how to implement the plan. (Who is best suited as an accomplice – a wife or a mistress? No, a wife is better, because the mistress will then want to marry me, and I will have to kill my wife as well… Damn, there should be a man in a surfer costume!)

Also, the author of the methodology believes that to develop unconventional thinking, one must be able to:

  1. Define the main idea and move away from it. For example, if you let go of a wooden bar, it will fall, won’t it? The force of gravity is the main idea. But the bar can also rise without the cancellation of gravity – for example, if you are standing at the bottom of the sea.
  2. Do not reject your ideas right away, even if they seem strange, ineffective, or banal to you. 
  3. Loosen the logic filters and consider each of your ideas in detail – perhaps there is a detail in it, thanks to which the whole machine will work.
  4. Deliberately use randomness. For example, go to a huge supermarket, pick up any items and think about how they might be related to your problem. Would the nephew have been able to plan his alibi if he hadn’t seen a surf suit exactly like his in the window?_____________________________________________________________________________

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