Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Lateral thinking

I've been reading a book by Paul Sloane called "the leader's guide to lateral thinking skills." I don't think it is very good at covering lateral thinking. It quotes a lot of supposed examples which you can say may have been successful lateral thinking, but it misses the point that there are many more examples of where similar ideas have failed. Also, many of the examples are purely marketing. Suggesting lateral thinking is simply a way of selling people something they don't really need or packaging an old item so that people think it is something new. For example it quotes a "good example" as the people who worked out they could sell more tooth paste by making a larger hole in the tube and more shampoo by adding the word "repeat" to instructions.

However, there are some useful quotes and examples with a more general application. A few are below.
"Inaction s not an option." This is why there is the continual need to change.

Most companies focus their effort on efficiency and refining current processes. This is not enough. For example, refining the way to make LP's, 35mm film, gas lamps, horse drawn carts etc. does not reflect the fact that these items are largely obsolete.

Selling change to people requires managers to paint a good picture of where you will end up.

Change is uncomfortable. It means there will be winners and losers. Anyone involved risks failure.

You need to take calculated risks in change.

The concept of reversibility is a huge factor in the success of a business. Having a plan B is always a wise decision.

Studies have shown that people under pressure are less creative. Instead, people need realistic goals.

Need to remove the fear of the unknown and fear of failure.

Edward de Bono said "you cannot look in a new direction by looking harder in the same direction."

A ship is safe in harbour but that is not what ships are for

Being 85% ready and out there is better that being 99% ready and out there too late. Assess risks of imperfection before issue.

1 comment:

Paul Sloane said...


Thanks for the comments on the book. If you want to try your hand at lateral thinking puzzles on-line then please visit the Lateral Puzzles Forum at http://www.lateralpuzzles.com

For some aspects of lateral thinking in business please visit my site at