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lateral thinking


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Using reasoned thought in a non-standard, or non-linear logical, way to find a solution to a problem.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a heuristic for solving problems; you try to look at the problem from many angles instead of tackling it head-on


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Term coined by Edward de Bono in 1967


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  • According to Paul Sloane's Lateral Thinking Puzzlers, "Edward de Bono first coined the phrase 'lateral thinking' to refer to a process of thinking that is different from the normal linear, or forward thinking to which we are accustomed. In traditionally reasoning, we progress logically from one step to the next. However, in lateral thinking, you must deliberately abandon this process in order to eliminate inhibitions. You then try to solve problems in different, random, or lateral ways.

    "In asking questions about a situation, you should first test all assumptions. Then make broad attacks on the problems before homing in on promising lines of enquiry. Above all, you should try to think laterally, that is to cast away conventional approaches and to make leaps of imagination."

    March 24, 2012



    A man lives on the twelfth floor of an apartment building. Every morning he takes the elevator down to the lobby and leaves the building. In the evening, he gets into the elevator, and, if there is someone else in the elevator -- or if it was raining that day -- he goes back to his floor directly. Otherwise, he goes to the tenth floor and walks up two flights of stairs to his apartment.

    Who is this man?

    September 7, 2009