Many pop psychology ideas have come and gone over the years. But occasionally an idea catches on because it proves useful or accurate. One idea from the late 1960s, the concept of lateral thinking, proved quite enduring. It helped to get people out of a narrow way of thinking that was often the product of a rigid education.
Lateral thinking is about solving problems creatively or indirectly, often by viewing them in a larger context. We are used to analytical thinking, were we add up clues and facts and derive an answer. Lateral thinking questions facts, regarding them as assumptions, or something only true in a certain situation. It also looks at how facts might be put together in a different way. Or how we might avoid a problem rather than solve it.
Lateral thinking is similar to the idea of ‘thinking outside the box’. We are used to seeing a structure or overall pattern, and working within it. Lateral thinking changes the structure.
The phrase ‘think outside of the box’ comes from a famous puzzle. 9 dots are arrange in a square, 4 dots at the corners, 4 dots in the middle of each side, and one dot in the middle. How do we join all 9 dots together with only four lines? Most people draw within the square, but we can only join all the dots with three lines if we go outside the square (box). This doesn’t occur to most people.
Another famous example is a tall bus stuck underneath a low bridge. The only way to get the bus out is to deflate the tires and back it out.
Run out of bench space in the kitchen? you can put a cutting board on an open draw, and use that as workspace.
Lateral thinking often entails seeing the system from outside, not from within. It is too easy to focus on the problem, or where the facts or system automatically lead us. But if we unfocus, and look at the situation that the problem exist within, we might see several possibilities, including some that actually work.
In hindsight the solution often seems obvious and logical, because we understand the process of reasoning behind it. But we forget all the other possible processes, which may have lead nowhere.
Escape room Sydney
An escape room puzzle requires us to look at all the information we can find, and then find a pattern. There are many ways to put together the same information. If we stick to the first impression, the first pattern we think of, we might find that any subsequent information does not fit. But all the information may fit into a different pattern.
Turn everything upside down and back to front. Wonder if an apparent triviality is actually the missing key to it all. Explore every possible pattern, and eventually something will work.
Escape room game Sydney
Escape rooms maybe a fictional, even fantasy world, but they involve real thinking skills.And they are literally Escaping from life, if only for an hour or two. Share the combined thinking power of several friends, and have the satisfaction of solving the mystery.