Lateral thinking/Generative learning

Posted on by Brandon Klein


It is hard to understand the value of SCAN, of having all the toys, books, and other “non-business” orientated things, of spending time in exercises or games that appear at first look to have nothing directly to do with the purpose at hand. DesignSessions are expensive, focused on very important client issues and often are critical to our engagement team’s continued success progress with a client. Yet, the DesignShop process, no matter how successful in the past, or for others, is a very different road to success and will always be uncomfortable to the participants.


Breakthrough requires stimulation. Sequential thinking divides the known into further known. Insight thinking requires a break from the patterns that allows a different or new perspective to be gained. This results in strengthening or challenging the assumed truth.



A part of building confidence in the process, is allowing further understanding into why we do what we do. Edward de Bono’s work on Lateral Thinking helps to explain how creativity can be created, and the value of SCAN. Traditional thinking is “vertical thinking”. It is selective, focuses on only what is revenant and is concerned with elimination, in order to create patterns and make choices. It is sequential (linear) and each step must be justified. It is very useful when the facts are known, and the problem is identified. It is ACT day thinking. It develops ideas generated by lateral thinking”. “Lateral thinking” is closely linked to creativity. It develops the INSIGHT area of the creative process model. It uses information not for its own sake, but for its effect. It allows one to be wrong at some step in order to achieve a correct solution. It supports model creation and modeling, and may deliberately seek out irrelevant information to stimulate thoughts, ideas and concepts that may lead to richer solution creation. Often for breakthrough, one cannot continue to evaluate new information or issues, from through old ideas and paradigms. SCAN is a lateral thinking exercise. It brings richness to discussion, allows new views and creates opportunities for greater success during the ACT vertical thinking portion of the process.


Discomfort is good!


We must interject stimulus that forces a break in the pattern of thinking:


Instead of A to B to C to D

We might need A to L to CDEF


This sort of thinking is epitomized in the old riddle about the man and his son who are in a car accident. The father is killed and the son badly injured. He is rushed to the hospital. The surgeon walks in, takes a look, and says, “I cannot operate on this boy. He is my son.” How is this possible? Of course, the surgeon was the boy’s mother. Even 10 years ago, that was a stumper, because the role of surgeon seemed very male. Lateral thinking forces us to come at a problem outside the normal view.



Reference: Lateral Thinking, by Edward de Bono