Sunday, May 31, 2009

Lateral Thinking Exercise

Solve this if you can

Question 1
The man in the Elevator
A man lives on the tenth floor of a building. Every day he takes the elevator to go down to the ground floor to go to work or to go shopping. When he returns he takes the elevator to the seventh floor and walks up the stairs to reach his apartment on the tenth floor. He hates walking so why does he do it?

Question 2
The Man in the Bar
A man walks into a bar and asks the barman for a glass of water. The barman pulls out a gun and points it at the man. The man says 'Thank you' and walks out.

Question 3
The Man who Hanged Himself
Not far from Madrid, there is a large wooden barn. The barn is completely empty except for a dead man hanging from the middle of the central rafter. The rope around his neck is ten feet long and his feet are three feet off the ground. The nearest wall is 20 feet away from the man. It is not possible to climb up the walls or along the rafters. The man hanged himself. How did he do it?

Question 4
A man rode into town on Friday. He stayed for three nights and then left on Friday. How come?

Lateral Thinking

De bono said that the mind is efficient at establishing concept patterns, but not at restructuring them to bring them up to date.

Differences from traditional vertical thinking compared to lateral thinking
  • Vertical thinking can be typified by looking for a solution that will work based strictly upon logic.
  • Vertical thinking follows the most likely paths to solving a problem.
  • Lateral thinking follows the least likely path.
Lateral thinking is closely related to creativity or the ability to use creativity within the problem-solving process. Lateral thinking is a slow deliberate process prompting us to think in different ways. Not simply discarding ideas simply because they are out of the norm in their approach to a problem.

The following anecdote is provided by De Bono (1967). A merchant who owes money to a money lender agrees to settle the debt based upon the choice of two stones (one black, one white) from a moneybag. If his daughter chooses the white stone, the debt is canceled; if she picks the black stone, the moneylender gets the merchant's daughter. However, the moneylender "fixes" the outcome by putting two black stones in the bag. The daughter sees this and when she picks a stone out of the bag, immediately drops it onto the path full of other stones. She then points out that the stone she picked must have been the opposite color of the one remaining in the bag. Unwilling to be unveiled as dishonest, the moneylender must agree and cancel the debt. The daughter has solved an intractable problem through the use of lateral thinking.

1. To get a different perspective on a problem, try breaking the elements up and recombining them in a different way (perhaps randomly).

Techniques of lateral thinking-De Bono, Lateral Thinking
1. The generation of alternatives-restructuring a pattern into a new pattern
2. Challenging assumptions-challenging set efficient methods as being the best solution to a problem
3. Innovations-why do we do things the way?
4. Suspended Judgment-not discarding an idea immediately when we think it will not work.
  • The idea will survive longer and foster more ideas
  • Other people might offer more ideas that their own judgment would have rejected
  • Ideas that are judged to be wrong in the current frame of reference may survive long enough to show that the frame of reference needs altering
5. Design-purpose view solutions from different angles
  • Rather than to be critical of ways that you don’t think will work, try to look from the angle that the new ideas approach the problem
6. Dominant ideas and crucial factors-standard approaches to problems solving are identified in order to highlight these could be vertical approaches to problem solving
  • Crucial factor is the one point that tethers or controls a solution, De Bono highlights the point that often crucial factors are assumptions rather than actual obstacles
7. Fractionalization-breaking down a problem into different pieces that you would not normally use in order to generate alternative ways of looking at a situation
8. The reversal method-method of creating new approaches
  • •e.g. Going on a holiday, reversed- holiday coming to one
9. Brainstorming
  • Being in a group and going through the above processes together
10. Analogies
  • Analogies are used to jumpstart inspiration when peoples creativity is low, promotes thinking in what seems an odd way, but gets the creative juices flowing.
11. Choice of entry point and attention area
  • Entry point refers to the part of the problem where we approach it, while attention area is the part of the problem that we focus our main efforts upon
12. Random stimulation
  • Random stimulation is the addition of unrelated information in order to shakeup the original thought pattern that was being used in order to approach the problem. It is useful in creating a slightly different angle of viewing the problem.
13. Concepts, Divisions, Polarization
  • The process of how our mind creates divisions in order to classify information that we acquire.
14. The new word “po”
  • A new word coined by De Bono to fit between the words yes and no so that one can hold off judgment of an idea for a short time longer while formulating possible ideas around the possibilities of this new idea. The word is like a holding category between giving an idea a green light or discarding it immediately. Also known as a language devise or tool. In simplest form it is similar to the use of the word suppose.
15. Blocked by openness
  • One is blocked by a gap, one has to find new road or construct a bridge to cover this area
  • Two is blocked by there is something in the way
  • Three is blocked by there is nothing in the way so we fail to look for more effective ways of doing something is we already have a working model
16. Description/Problem solving and Design
Description, two people describe a problem in two different ways, same problem just seems like two different problems.

Vertical thinking-one must be correct at every step or the process is discarded while in lateral thinking the idea can be held onto while other information is added in around it. Both ways are effective yet vertical thinking is selective in its thinking while lateral is generative. Lateral is basically methods, tools, techniques that encourage approaching ideas in a manner that you would not conceive of in vertical (traditional) thinking. The techniques are very creative and seem unorthodox, but they are worthwhile.

Dupont employees used lateral thinking to eliminate a number of steps in the manufacture of Kevlar material and saved the company 30 million annually.



Creative Thinking Techniques

Visual Thinking Activities:
1. Perceptual Exercises and Visual Demonstrations
Figure Ground, Hidden Figures, Playful perception
2. Imagery, Guided Visualization, Fantasizing, Daydreaming
Finding muse, insights, overcoming emotional blocks, mental image
3. Metaphoric Thinking, Similes, and Forced Associations
Life like a ____ ? School like a _____ ?
4. Synectics and Analogical Thinking
Figural, Direct, Personal, Fantasy, Compressed Conflict/Oxymorons
5. Breaking Set and Finding New Patterns
Break out of functional fixity, Make familiar strange

Idea Listing Activities:
6. Attribute Listing (problem or product is divided into key attributes addressed separately)
(also referred to as Checkerboarding and Jot Charting)
Modifying list main attributes of a problem object and think of ways to improve.
Transferring borrowing attributes or ideas from another place; analogical thinking.
7. Morphological Synthesis (combine two attributes in the form of a grid)
8. The Second Best Answer, > 1 Right Answer, What else, Elaboration/Explication
9. Idea Spurring Checklists and Cards; e.g., Osborn's SCAMPER method:
substitute, combine, adapt, modify/max min, put to other uses, elim, rev/rearrange
10. Just Suppose/What If?/Rearrange Facts/Reorganize Information

Writing Activities:
11. Semantic Webbing/Chaining/Mapping
12. Free Writing/Wet Ink
13. Reflection Writing: Diaries, Personal Journals
14. Creative Writing
Newsletters, Cartoons, Quips, Riddles, Jokes, Humor, Stories, Books, Twisted Fairy
Tales, Object Talking, Telling Lies, Third Eye, Object Obituaries, Telling Tall Tales
15. Sentence Stems/Story Starters/Openers/Warm up (e.g., Another reason is, In contrast to)

Group Interaction Activities:
16. Simulations/Role Plays/Sociodramas/Mock Trials/Show & Tell
17. Creative Dramatics/Improvisation/Pantomime
Movement, imagine, hear, touch, smell, tastes...
Hold up roof, biggest thing, stretching, mirrors, toe tips, people machines, puppets
18. Fish Bowl
19. Six Hats (an example of Lateral Thinking)
20. Nominal Group Process, Brainstorming, Reverse Brainstorming
More ideas/wilder the better, hitchhiking encouraged, no eval, combo to improve

Process Product Oriented Activities:
21. Problem Finding and Defining
22. Future Problem Solving, Odyssey of the Mind, and Science Olympiad
Multistep probs, unknowns, decisions, teams, communicate, self directed, ambiguity
23. Creativity by Design/Problem Based Learning/Make a Creative Product/Inventing
Use design q's, possib/ideas b/4 commitments/details, explore models, think on paper
Good results, easy to use, safe, durable, attractive, comfortable, reasonable cost
24. Creative Problem Solving, Guided Design, AUTA, Incubation Model,
25. Model Building

10+ Creative Thinking Ideas

1. Brainstorming More ideas/wilder the better, no eval, combo to improve
(How to study better? How to raise test scores? What are bet teaching techniques)
2. Reverse Brainstorming
(How to study worse? How to lower test scores? What are worst teaching techniques)
3. Creative Writing and Story Telling
(Object obituaries, Tell a tall tale, cartoons, jokes/quips, story starters, wrap arounds, forced responses, newsletters, object talking, etc., Golub, 1994)
4. Idea-Spurring Questions, Checklists, or Cards (e.g., Osborn's SCAMPER method): How do we: substitute, combine, adapt, modify/max-min put to other uses, elim, rev/rearrange
5. Six hats (wear different color hats for different types of thinking)
6. Free Writing/Wet Inking
(write without lifting pen for 3-5 minutes on, e.g., Best teacher ever had)
7. Checkerboarding, Attribute Listing, Morphological Synthesis
(Analyze or combine 2 key variables/components in grid/matrix; e.g., CT &CR)
8. Analogies, Metaphorical Thinking, Synectics, or Forced Associations
(This school is like a ____; An good presenter is like a ____? IU hoops is like ____?)
9. Semantic Webbing/Chaining/Linking/Mapping of Ideas, Free Association Activities
(What is a greenhouse effect? What is a good curric? What is effective teaching?)
10. Simulations and Role Plays
(Computer sims, act out plays or literature, simulated games or performance)
11. Other techniques
• The Second Best Answer, What else, > 1 Right Answer (What else applies)
• Elaboration/Explanation (Another reason is)
• Diaries, Personal Journals (When in the field, I want to jot down…)
• Just Suppose/What If Exercises (What if we had cooperative exams?)
• Creative Dramatics/Improvisation (imagine hearing, seeing, feeling)

Creativity Definition

Creativity Definition: Young (1985): Creativity "is the skill of bringing about something new and valuable…Creative people do more than break away from old patterns. They do more than find alternatives. They diverge from familiar patterns, but then they converge on new solutions. They break laws to remake them. They make hard decisions about what to include and what to eliminate. Creative people innovate. They aim toward newness. This can be considered in several senses:"

In Short:
'‘Being creative is seeing the same thing as everyone else, but thinking of something different’