Lateral Thinking Tools and Conundrums


Creative Juice

Tools to help you think more creatively

The interplay between words and images is an important way to activate our brains.  One study showed that those who used visual presentation tools to convey information were 43 percent more successful than those who did not.  

To improve your visual thinking, try this. Look at the maple leaf on the Canadian flag below.  Can you see the outline of two men who are clearly annoyed and are butting heads?  If you look closely you will see that their faces are formed by the outline of the top half of the leaf.  They have pointed noses.

You will never see the Canadian flag in the same way again!  Your eye will always be drawn between the image of the maple leaf and the two irritated men.  Our memories are strongly activated when our preconceptions are challenged.

Test Yourself

Are you a lateral thinker? Try this creative conundrums

Three light switches control three lights upstairs.  When you are downstairs clicking the switches, you cannot see which switch controls which light.   You need to figure out which switch matches which light, but you are only allowed upstairs once.  How can you do it. 

Potential solution:

Turn the left switch on for 10 minutes then turn it off again. Turn the middle switch on and go upstairs. The light turned on matches the middle switch. Carefully touch the other two bulbs. The one that’s hot matches the left switch, the cool one matches the right. 

Are You A Lateral Thinker?

Try these creative conundrums:
  1.  A woman had two sons who were born on the same hour of the same day of the same year. But they were not twins. How could this be so?
  2. If you put a small coin into an empty wine bottle and replace the cork, how would you get the coin out of the bottle without taking out the cork or breaking the bottle?
  3. A young brother and sister were fighting. Their mother decided to punish them by making them stand on the same sheet of newspaper in such a way that they couldn’t touch each other. How did she accomplish this?

What original solutions can you come up with to these situations?

Potential solutions:

  1. Separated at birth: They were two of a set of triplets. 
  2. Money in the bottle: Push the cork into the bottle, and shake out the coin.
  3. Flighting siblings: the mother slid the newspaper under a closed door, and made each sibling stand on either side of it.

Lateral thinking tools

Finding a new hole to dig

Lateral thinking is about approaching a problem from an unusual al angle. It often flies in the face of logic. Psychologist Edward de Bono, who coined the phrase describes lateral thinking with this metaphor:
“You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging the same
hole deeper.”

Lateral thinking in three steps:
1. Think about what assumptions stop people from finding an original solution to the problem
2. Approach the same problem from different angles,
regardless of how random the angle might seem.
3. Silence your inner critic and be aware of preconceptions and
prejudices that might dismiss original thought.

Eduard de Bono

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