lateral thinking

FROM THE OXOFORD DICTIONARY Lateral Thinking: “A way of thinking that seeks a solution to an intractable problem through unorthodox methods or elements that would normally be ignored by logical thinking”.

Lateral Thinking® and Dr. de Bono. Dr. Edward de Bono is regarded by many as the leading world authority in the field of creativity. He is the inventor of the phrase “Lateral Thinking” which is now in the Oxford English Dictionary. His Lateral Thinking tools are based directly on how the brain functions as a self-organizing information system. He has worked for over thirty years in the field with major corporations all over the world. Here are some notes from Dr. de Bono on the definition of Lateral Thinking.

  • “You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging the same hole deeper.”
  • “Lateral Thinking is for changing concepts and perceptions instead of trying harder with the same concepts and perceptions.”
  • “In self-organizing information systems, asymmetric patterns are formed. Lateral Thinking is a method for cutting across from one pattern to another.”

Time Tested. All the material in Lateral Thinking has been tried and tested over many years. There are today many thousands of people in the world who regularly use the tools of Lateral Thinking, sometimes with spectacular results. 

Systematic Use The importance of the systematic use of the Lateral Thinking tools is stressed in this introduction as well as the course itself. The goal of the course is mastery of the tools. Being systematic about learning and practicing the tools is essential. But even when you have mastered the tools, you will still get the best results when you use the tools systematically. Many people who are highly creative in their own fields say that they still get the best new ideas (the ones that really surprise them) when they use the tools systematically. 

A carpenter has a full set of tools and uses them systematically to make beautiful furniture. Mastery of the woodworking tools is essential. So is the deliberate use of the tools. A carpenter does not flop about and hope that things will happen! 


“If you haven’t heard of Edward de Bono or of Lateral Thinking, perhaps you have been too busy thinking in conventional ways.” – Forbes Magazine

By using Edward de Bono’s brilliant concept of ‘Lateral Thinking’ we were able to revolutionize the insurance industry through ‘living needs’ policies that allow people to benefit from their life insurance while they are alive.” – Ron D. Barbaro, President, the Prudential Insurance Company of America

“…I have become a convert in ‘Lateral Thinking’ – our normally haphazard way of thinking is replaced by a deliberate method that, in a prescribed and systematic way, solves the problems.” – Ivar Giaver, Nobel Prize for Physics, Renssalear Institute


“At DuPont, we have experienced the power of deliberate, systematic application of the de Bono tools to practical problems with remarkable results. For example, Lateral Thinking led to a major breakthrough in process continuity at a fiber plant with a radical altering of basic equipment design, reducing the number of moving parts by 80%.” – David Tanner, Founding Director, Du Pont Center for Creativity & Innovation.