Problem Solving:

Creativity Secrets

Lateral Thinking

Looking for Wider Solutions

By Vadim Kotelnikov, Founder, Ten3 BUSINESS e-COACH,

"The mind sharp, but not broad, sticks at every point but does not move."

Rabindranath Tagore

"You cannot look in a new direction by looking harder in the same direction."

Edward de Bono 


Lateral Thinking is:

  • seeking to solve a problem by non-conventional, apparently illogical means.

  • a process and willingness to look at things in a different way.

  • a new type of thinking that complements analytical and critical thinking.

  • a creative problem solving tool that helps create new ideas, new products, new processes and new services.

TRIZ 40 Principles

  • Another dimension.

    • To move an object in two- or three-dimensional space.

    • Tilt or re-orient the object, lay it on its side.

    • Use 'another side' of a given area... More

Lateral Thinking and Turning Accidental Discoveries into a Habit

Lateral Thinking versus Vertical Thinking

Vertical Thinking

Lateral Thinking

  • Chooses

  • Changes

  • Looks for what is right

  • Looks for what is different

  • One thing must follow directly from another

  • Makes deliberate jumps

  • Concentrates on relevance

  • Welcomes chance intrusions

  • Moves in the most likely directions

  • Explores the least likely directions

Understanding Right / Left Brain Functions

  1. The right side of the brain controls your creative, visual, spatial concepts.

  2. The left side of the brain controls your logical, mathematical judgmental, analytical activities.

Trend Spotting Tips

By IDEO a World Leading Product Design Company

  • Look wider: don't focus too much on your competition spend as much time learn from noncompetitive industries as well. Knowing the state of the art or the soon-to-be state of the art in one industry can give you a jump in your chosen field... More

 Discover much more!


Unlock Your Creativity

10 Secrets of Creativity

Thinking Outside The Box

Get Away from Old Ideas


10 Brainstorming Rules

Asking Searching Questions

Socratic Questions


21 Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires

Entrepreneurial Creativity

6 Powerful Inventive Thinking Techniques

TRIZ 40 Principles


Keep Eyes Open for Inspiration

Trend Spotting Tips

The Jazz of Innovation

11 Practicing Tips

  Ten3 Mini-Courses   Presentation:    View    Download

Entrepreneurial Creativity  (75 slides)

Entrepreneurial Leadership  (40 slides)

Inspirational Business Plan: Successful Innovation

Milestones Completed and Future Plans: "Once we rid ourselves of traditional thinking we can get on with creating the future." James Bertrand... More

Lateral Thinking Defined


Lateral thinking is concerned with generation of new ideas. It is also concerned with "breaking out of the concept prisons of old ideas."1

Vertical vs. Lateral Thinking

Lateral thinking is not a substitute for vertical thinking. Both are required they are complementary: lateral thinking is generative, vertical thinking is selective. For instance, during brainstorming meetings, you encourage lateral thinking during the first session to generate as much creative solutions as possible, and vertical thinking during the second session to select the feasible ideas.

In traditional vertical type of thinking (logic or mathematic), you move forward by sequential steps each of which must be justified.

You select out only what is relevant. You must be right at each stage in order to achieve a correct solution.

In lateral thinking, you may deliberately seek out irrelevant information - you use information not for its own sake but for its effect. You may have to be wrong at some stage in order to achieve an innovative and correct solution.

6 Barriers To Creative Thinking and Innovation

Negative Attitude: The tendency to focus on the negative aspects of problems and expend energy on worry... More

Ask Searching Questions

Don't ask one or two questions and then rush straight towards a solution. With an incomplete understanding of the problem it is very easy to jump to wrong conclusions.

Ask open-ended questions that elicit a wide rage of answers:

  • 'Why' questions  to discover the roots of the problem

  • 'How' questions to discover different routes to significant improvement

 Exercises  Practicing Lateral Thinking

Source: Effective Innovation: How to Stay Ahead of the Competition, John Adair

The Bicycles and the Fly

Two boys on bicycles, 20 miles apart, began racing straight towards each other. The instant they started, a fly on the handlebar of one bicycle started flying straight towards the other cyclist. As soon as it reached the other bicycle, it turned and started back. The fly flew back and forth in this way, from handlebar to handlebar, until the bicycles met.

If each bicycle had a constant speed of 10 miles and hour, and the fly flew at a constant speed of 15 miles an hour, how far did the fly flew?    (See the answer)

Critical Thinking: Socratic Questions

Socratic questioning is at the heart of critical thinking they enhance your critical thinking skills.

Socratic questions challenge accuracy and completeness of thinking in a way that acts to move people towards their ultimate goal... More

New Systemic Approach to Innovation

Until recently innovation has been seen principally as the means to turn research results into commercially successful products, but not all research leads to innovation and not all innovation is research-based. Innovation is systemic.


It arises from complex interactions between many individuals, organizations and their operating environment. Firms which are successful in realizing the full returns from their technologies and innovations are able to match their technological developments with complementary expertise in other areas of their business, such as manufacturing, distribution, human resources, marketing, and customer service... More

Cross-Functional Excellence

If you build broad cross-functional expertise, no idea will be wasted! Your mind can accept only those ideas that have a frame of reference with your existing knowledge. It rejects everything else. If your knowledge is functionally focused, you'll be open to new ideas related to your functional expertise only and will miss all other learning and innovation opportunities. If you develop a broad cross-functional expertise, no new idea will be wasted. It will immediately connect with the existing knowledge and will inspire  you, energize you, and encourage your entrepreneurial creativity. The broader your net, the more fish you catch.

 Case in Point  Encouragement of Lateral Thinking at GE Work-Out

At GE Work-Out, participants are made fell the urgency to change and begin to see the whole picture of the situation. Then, they are ready to focus on new ideas. How can the process be improved? What can be done differently to achieve the stretch goal?

"Using the process map as a starting point, Work-Out asks participants to brainstorm ways of achieving the goal, and then provides a structure for quickly sorting through the ideas, selecting the best ones, and developing them into recommendations for change. As with any brainstorming process, Work-Out encourages people to toss out any idea, no matter how minor, how crazy, how seemingly impossible. And the process helps people learn how to build on each other's ideas, combine ideas, and think "out-of-the-box." In fact, when the old Aetna Insurance


Company implemented its version of Work-Out, the program's sponsors called it "Out of the Box."3

Be the Best Possible

10 Tips by Ten3 NZ Ltd.

  • Continuous creativity.  Every member of an organisation can be creative. The key towards discovering and maximising your creativity is to be a member of an organisation that offers a work environment that encourages individual and team creativity.  These organisations understand that innovation and creativity are the very source of excellence and quality when applied to customer service, delivery, distribution, sales and marketing and employee productivity, etc... More








  1. Lateral Thinking, Edward de Bono

  2. "101 Ways To Generate Great Ideas", Timothy R.V. Foster

  3. "The GE Work-Out", Dave Ulrich, Steve Kerr, Ron Ashkenas

  4. The Leader's Guide To Lateral Thinking Skills, Paul Sloane


Advanced Systematic Inventive Thinking

  • Solve problems and invent new products in a way you never thought possible

  • Become a serial producer of bright ideas

  • Gain an unfair advantage over your competition

  • Be a part of a vibrant, intelligent, creative community that thinks like you

  • Teach others (including your kids!) how to become more creative

  • Win the admiration of your colleagues, superiors, and subordinates

  • Improve your quality of life by injecting creativity into everything you do