Lateral Thinking


There is more than one way to skin a cat. You need to think outside the box. Brain storming. We know what those words mean.

In the early 60’s Dr. Edward de Bono had a copyright for the two words that mean the same—LATERAL THINKING.

Born in Malta in 1933, his academic credentials are impressive. He has traveled the world advancing his theory. He’s spoken to thousands of schools, corporations and the military in scores of countries.

A major emphasis is that every school teacher should spend at least one hour per week teaching students to Think Laterally.

His awards are too numerous to mention.

Many people say his approach is just common sense-which, in a way, it is. The difference is de Bono has structured the process and broadened his theories to include every aspect of life. Wherever there is a problem, Lateral Thinking is applicable.

Many years ago when elevators were just coming into vogue, a major hotel in San Diego-El Cortez-wanted one installed. Soon they found the building was not structurally sound for one. For the first time ever, the decision was made to build one on the outside of the building. Lateral Thinking.

Dr. de Bono’s favorite geometric design is one I’ve used many times. Nine dots, three lines with three dots each, making a square figure.

Draw four lines without lifting the pen; connect each dot. The answer is simple. Start at any corner with a straight line, BUT GO OUTSIDE THE BOX. Then to the right, going outside the box; finally across the bottom and up through the center. Lateral Thinking.

What does the Bible say about LATERAL THINKING? First, there is a problem. Then the God-given ability for creative thinking is exercised. Often God is asked for help. The old adage seems to apply. God helps those who help themselves.

The examples are numerous. Noah, Abraham, Moses, David against Goliath and the Apostle Paul, to name a few.

Consider the story of Gideon. In the Book of Judges, chapters 6 and 7 is the story. The Midianites and the Amilakites defeated the Israelites; took their crops and animals. Gideon is finally chosen to lead the Israelites against their enemies.

Now begins the Lateral Thinking. He cuts his forces to 300 men. Those that lapped water like a dog were excused. He wanted ready and willing men. They were outnumbered to be sure.

First, they surrounded the enemy in the middle of the night. Each man had a sword, a pitcher with a candle in it and a trumpet.

At the given signal the pitcher was broken with the lighted candle flashing; the trumpet was blown and all the men yelled, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon.”

Talk about pandemonium. The enemy was scared out of their wits. They ran. Forgot their weapons. And were slaughtered. Defeated by Lateral Thinking. Thinking outside the box.

Accepting the status quo is the bain of Lateral Thinking. It accepts fatalism and pessimism as basic. These are contrary to Christian/Judeo presumptions. Both religions believe that mankind is created in the image of God. Not omnipotent, omnipresent or omniscient.

But having limited capacity for self-realization, creativity, rational thinking and decision making. They are our potentials. It is these faculties that provide the tools for Lateral Thinking.

Dr. de Bono suggests provocative techniques of: wishful thinking, exaggeration, insight, intuition, creativity and openness.

Problem solving is the fertile area for using of such tools; “A person would use lateral thinking when they want to move from one known idea to creating new ideas.”

Finally, de Bono gives a succinct explanation of lateral thinking. “It is a method that can be applied during the problem and creative problem solving processes to help come up with possible workable solutions.”

Amen. Selah. So be it.


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