Vertical and Lateral Thinking


Found an interesting introductory piece on lateral and vertical thinking:

When trying to solve a problem, it is very important to consider alternate solutions instead of forging forward with the first decent idea. Picking one idea and proceeding until a solution is reached is called vertical thinking and this is the type of thinking that is most often taught in our schools. When thinking laterally, you continue to generate ideas even after a promising idea has been produced. A vertical thinker must always be moving usefully in some direction and must be correct at every step. A lateral thinker can wander in different directions to find creative solutions and often must be wrong in order to be right in the end. Lateral thinkers welcome and explore seemingly irrelevant facts or ideas, whereas vertical thinkers shut out all irrelevant data


Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step – Edward de Bono
The first practical explanation of how creativity works, this results-oriented bestseller trains listeners to move beyond a “vertical” mode of thought to tap the potential of lateral thinking.

Related in this blog

Types of Thinking (Diagram and list of thought processes)


3 thoughts on “Vertical and Lateral Thinking

  1. Lateral thinking may be also related to divergent thinking which is a concept closely related to creativity. “In Convergent thinking individuals are said to converge upon the only single acceptable answer to a problem rather than to diverge and throw up as many solutions as they can.” Fontana (1981)

  2. You may be right. Lateral Thinking may be a metaphor for a particular type of thought process.

    Convergent thinking can lead to problematic insights. The “right answer” depends on the framework being used to evaluate it.

    In most cases, it can be argued that convergent thinking may lead to “greedy reductionist” insights that over-simplify and ignore the interconnected complexity of life.

    So, it all depends on the framework. A general-level framework will forgive overlooking details. Convergence, in most cases, is a general-level framework.

  3. Allowing for divergent or (lateral) thinking is a way of giving free vent to learners creativity. No answer is the right answer. Every solution should be considered equally, explored for any potential innovative pathway…

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