Lateral Thinking Book Summary - Lateral Thinking Book explained in key points
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Lateral Thinking summary

Edward de Bono

Creativity Step by Step

4.3 (412 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono is a guide to thinking creatively and solving problems outside of traditional, linear approaches. The book offers practical techniques to help readers generate innovative and unconventional ideas.

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    Lateral Thinking
    Summary of 6 key ideas

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    Lateral thinking helps the mind rethink and update its entrenched patterns.

    There are two modes of thinking: vertical thinking and lateral thinking. For the most part, we’re used to vertical thinking. This is the kind of process that takes an idea, solidifies it, and backs it up with data and facts – almost like planting the idea firmly, and deeply, into the ground.

    If vertical thinking is like digging a hole to plant your idea, lateral thinking is about finding other places to start digging. 

    The key message here is: Lateral thinking helps the mind rethink and update its entrenched patterns.

    To begin with, it should be noted that lateral thinking isn’t antithetical to vertical thinking – they’re not at odds with each other. Vertical thinking is necessary and useful because it aligns with how the mind works.

    Among other things, the mind is a powerful system for identifying patterns and organizing information. It does this through what’s known as a self-maximizing memory system. That is, we base our ideas on the experiences we remember, the patterns we’ve identified, and the evidence we’ve gleaned from them. 

    This system works great for the most part. For example, we come to understand letters and numbers so well that even if they’re partly obscured, we can still recognize them. But it also has a downside. The more we experience, the more we become entrenched in these patterns and expectations. We take them for granted and are more than willing to just let them be.

    Lateral thinking is a way of challenging the patterns – of testing them, prodding them, and seeing if they can be updated or improved. Creative and innovative ideas are hard to come by if we don’t challenge the patterns and assumptions our mind is unconsciously making.

    This is why both vertical and lateral thinking are important. In subjects like science and math, it’s necessary to label and categorize things. And the brain is the perfect tool for doing this. But other times we need to purposely go against our systematic nature and rethink those categories and what’s in them. This is where lateral thinking comes into play. 

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    What is Lateral Thinking about?

    Lateral Thinking (1970) explains the important differences between vertical and lateral thinking. It offers techniques on how to strengthen your ability to think creatively – and spark important changes and innovations along the way. It also provides lessons that teachers can use to help young students develop a talent for lateral thinking.

    Lateral Thinking Review

    Lateral Thinking (1967) by Edward de Bono is a thought-provoking exploration of creative problem-solving techniques that challenges traditional thinking patterns. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It presents a refreshing approach to problem-solving, offering unconventional strategies that encourage outside-the-box thinking.
    • With its practical exercises and real-life examples, it provides readers with tangible tools to develop their creative thinking skills.
    • The book's engaging narrative keeps readers captivated, making it an enjoyable and enlightening read that is definitely not boring.

    Who should read Lateral Thinking?

    • People who want to improve at thinking outside the box
    • Teachers looking for lessons to inspire creative thinking
    • Executives eager for more productive brainstorming sessions

    About the Author

    Edward de Bono was a philosopher, professor, psychologist, and the inventor of the term “lateral thinking.” He was on the faculty of universities such as Oxford, Harvard, and Cambridge. He wrote over 80 books, including The Mechanism of the Mind and Six Thinking Hats

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    Lateral Thinking FAQs 

    What is the main message of Lateral Thinking?

    The main message of Lateral Thinking is to break free from traditional thinking patterns and explore new, creative solutions.

    How long does it take to read Lateral Thinking?

    The reading time for Lateral Thinking varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Lateral Thinking a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Lateral Thinking is worth reading as it encourages innovative thinking and provides practical techniques to enhance problem-solving skills.

    Who is the author of Lateral Thinking?

    Edward de Bono is the author of Lateral Thinking.

    What to read after Lateral Thinking?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Lateral Thinking, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • How to Think More Effectively by The School of Life
    • Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono
    • Problem Solving 101 by Ken Watanabe
    • The Five Elements of Effective Thinking by Edward B. Burger and Michael Starbird
    • Originals by Adam Grant
    • An Audience of One by Srinivas Rao
    • Truth by Hector MacDonald
    • The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles
    • Collaborative Intelligence by Dawna Markova
    • Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom