An everyday example of lateral thinking

Demonstrating the use of “Alternative Perspective”

Lateral thinking alternative perspectives

“There’s no such thing as God!”

A real situation I faced recently

– Michael Muxworthy, Lateral Thinking Author of Fiction


An old and fragile-looking gentleman was on the receiving end of a lecture from an educated-sounding young man who was passionate about his atheist beliefs … too passionate perhaps. It was impossible not to overhear their conversation.

The poor old guy couldn’t get a word in, so I introduced myself in a non-threatening way just to make sure everything was okay. It turns out that they were related … the young man was his grandson. The conversation had turned to the topic of evolution …

‘How does religion explain evolution?’ … the young man asked of me.

‘Evolution is just a theory. Science is always getting things wrong,’ the old man countered. ‘They’ll come up with something entirely different in a few years … you’ll see.’

I’m a staunch atheist, but I couldn’t resist the old man’s pleading eyes. LOL

Try to answer the question of evolution from an ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVE . . . God’s perspective,’ I said.

‘There’s no such thing as God,’ the grandson insisted.

‘But you can imagine that God exists, and you can imagine how he might answer that question. For the moment, imagine YOU are God. Are you both in the role?’

‘Yes.’ ‘Yes.’

‘How do YOU explain evolution?’

To their tremendous credit, they both thought seriously about the question from the imagined perspective of God.

‘I suppose evolution could exist if God made it so,’ conceded the old man.

‘If … a God does exist, evolution would be part of His design,’ conceded the grandson. ‘Evolution isn’t necessarily the defining proof that there is no God that I’d always assumed.’

It didn’t settle the argument one way or the other, but both sides gained something new … an alternative perspective. Something to think about.

ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVES is a lateral thinking tool that disrupts preconceived mindsets to derive original thinking. It’s simple. It’s powerful. It can take the heat out of arguments, focus meetings, drive original solutions, and solve all sorts of problems. Learn more here.

 – – – – –

“We should NEVER have trusted the aliens”

. . . is the title of my soon to be released lateral thinking work of fiction.

Check it out here

 – – – – –

Lateral thinking in the workplace example

Demonstrating the use of “Creative Combinations”

Example of lateralt thinking in use in business

“I can’t do this on my own!”

A real example of how I used lateral thinking to first break into the advertising industry

– Michael Muxworthy, Lateral Thinking Author of Fiction



It didn’t take me long to realize that I’d taken on one of the toughest jobs in the industry. There’d been a long line of failures before me. Several weeks into the job I hadn’t brought in a single new piece of business.

“Nobody wanted to know me as they assumed I would fail also.”

I needed to turn things around. The creative staff were “out of bounds” … too important to interrupt. With nothing to lose, I broke the rules and approached the Creative Director.

“What are you passionate about outside of work?”

Boats. He told me that he’d love to have a little diversity in the creative demands and we agreed to work TOGETHER to bring on something from the boating field. A few weeks later we had LLOYD’S SHIPS.

It turned out that a lot of the people at the agency had a client “wish list”. It was the beginning of something … “combining” the passions of the staff with the problem of recruiting new business.

“I wasn’t alone … I found myself with an enormous swell of support and creative thinking about new business opportunities.”


Creative Combination is a powerful strategy of disruption that can be used to drive productive outcomes. Learn more here.


What exactly is lateral thinking?

MOST so-called experts use descriptions like “out of the box”. LOL. Wrong.

MOST so-called experts can’t tell you the difference between creative thinking and lateral thinking.

The real answer might surprise you.

 – – – – –

An example of lateral thinking resolving a dangerous situation

Demonstrating the use of “Backwards Planning”

“It’s party time!”

An everyday and real situation I faced recently

– Michael Muxworthy, Lateral Thinking Author of Fiction

In Australia, we have a tradition called “schoolies”. Basically, at the conclusion of their senior school education, the kids take off to one of several iconic locations to party for a solid week. Probably the most popular destination is the fabulous beaches and party atmosphere of Queensland’s famous Gold Coast.

Yes . . . this is where nightmares begin. (LOL)

To make things MUCH worse, Julie (not her real name) and her best seven friends decided to drive (in two vehicles) the entire 1,701.9 kilometers so they could “enjoy the sights”. They had no plan, thinking that they would stop and camp “wherever”.

Oh dear . . . I didn’t like the sound of that one bit.

The solution that immediately came to mind was to “backwards plan” their trip. Instead of “telling” them what they should do, I “involved” them in the process of imagining the best trip possible.

Their accommodation wouldn’t be available until midday the following Saturday.

‘Where will you spend Friday night?’ I asked, innocently. ‘So that you arrive fresh and ready to make the most of your time on the Gold Coast?’

A quick look online revealed that the scenic community of Coffs Harbour was just over a three-hour drive south, the perfect easy commute for the final leg of their journey on Saturday morning.

‘I’ll get online and book you guys a camping spot close to the beach, shall I? My treat.’

We backwards planned the entire journey. I knew where they were expected to be at every stage, and they had an achievable three to five hours driving per day which made all the parents feel a lot better about the journey.

“Lateral thinking is often about disrupting something you don’t like, to create a better outcome”

BACKWARDS PLANNING is a powerful tool of disruption that converts an intangible vision into a tangible strategy.   Learn more here.

 – – – – –

Looking for … stimulation?

Lateral thinking puzzles stimulate creative and original thinking.

Stimulating lateral thinking puzzles

 – – – – –

An example of a lateral thinking game that encourages your child’s creativity 

Demonstrating the use of “Backwards Planning”

Toybox game plyed backwards

“Let’s play … the backwards game”

Teach your child how to pick up their toys … and have fun doing it.

Take the child through the following steps.

Backward Step 1.

Imagine waking up in the morning, the child’s room is all neat and tidy.

(Close your eyes and imagine this)

The child goes to his/her toybox and opens it. What toy does the child MOST want to see at the top? Imagine all the toys in order of priority.

Backward Step 2.

What needs to happen just before all the toys are tidy, in the box, and in order of priority?

Close your eyes and imagine the toys all in a row, with the most in-demand toys at the front of the queue, down to the least in-demand toy being last. Can you see the long line?

Engage with your child’s imagination. Describe the long line of toys.

Backward Step 3.

What happens before all the are neatly in a line?

The child will have to choose the order they are in by imagining which toys she/he will want to play with the next day.

Engage with your child’s imagination. Let the child imagine how much fun it will be to have all their toys waiting in line.

Backward Step 4.

What happens before the child chooses the order of the toys?

All the toys will need to be collected from around the house.

Engage with your child’s imagination. Let the child imagine having all their toys that belong in the toybox all together to choose from.

Okay, your child has a powerful imagination … all children do. If you’ve put in the right ingredients, the child is now ready to move forward.

Forward Step 1.

“Let’s round up all the toys for the toybox and make sure we have all the pieces together”

You’ll notice a change of attitude because the task has turned from a chore … to a game.

Forward Step 2.

“Which toy do you first want to see when you wake up in the morning and open your toybox?”

Let the child choose.

“Okay, what is the second toy you want to see?”

Let the child have fun putting the toys in order.

Forward Step 3.

“Well done. Let’s put the toys into the toybox in reverse order. The least-needed toy first.”

My parents played this game with me as a child and the powerful memories of “backwards planning” remain with me to this day.


Check out even more really fun ways to engage your child’s natural creativity through lateral thinking here … Lateral thinking games for children

 – – – – –

An example of lateral thinking to differentiate

Demonstrating “Challenge Existing Concepts”

“Why … is competition bad?”

A real example of lateral thinking being applied within the advertising industry

– Michael Muxworthy, Lateral Thinking Author of Fiction


A chain of auto wreckers invited our advertising agency to competitively pitch for their business.

THE BRIEF: Make their advertising and branding more effective against strong competition.

The “normal” advertising agency procedure in these circumstances is to “answer the brief” … to compete for the clients’ business.

“Competition reduces profits … so try to differentiate instead”

The wreckers spent an awful lot of money promoting themselves … car, bike, and truck racing, signage, auto magazines, like-minded social media, and online activities. They tried to have a substantial or dominating influence in nearly every media typically frequented by their target audience that was extremely sensitive to PRICE!

“They were heavily competing for a small market and making very little money”

So. instead of answering their brief, we challenged the way they were doing business …

Why … do you compete so heavily for such a limited market?”

The question intrigued them.

The wreckers told us that a high-quality used part usually sold for about a third to a half of the price of the new equivalent … competition had driven the prices to record lows.

Instead of competing with other wreckers, we asked if it might be possible to position them as if competing with NEW parts sellers instead … to recreate their image/brand as an “alternative to a new parts” retailer.

Three months later:

Customers walked into clean retail showrooms that featured “specials” and “projects”. They were professionally served by people with clean hands and clothes. Most of the smaller items even came in new packaging. Prices were much higher than that of other wreckers.

It turned out to be a huge success.

Our advertising agency would always challenge preconceptions when pitching for new business.

It was a strategy that didn’t always win the business … but when we did win, we won it in a non-competitive environment (which allowed us to charge whatever we liked LOL).

Our profits were very high, and so too were the profits of clients that employed our strategies.

CHALLENGING EXISTING CONCEPTS is something the “experts” rarely do. Learn more here.

 – – – – –

Plot development – Writer’s block – New twists – Keep your reader on the edge of their seat.

Disruptive lateral thinking strategies for authors and writers

 – – – – –

Definition of lateral thinking

What is creativity?

“Creativity is merely a process of combining things that already exist in new and original ways.”

The painter who creates a masterpiece has merely combined existing colors and materials in a new way.

The composer …

The poet …

The sculptor …

Sure, some people combine things better than others LOL.

“Creative thinking” needn’t be intimidating. It’s merely the combining of things that already exist, in new and original ways.

Lateral thinking … is a strategy of disruption that frees you from blinkered viewpoints to open your mind to new and original combinations.

“Lateral thinking literally makes creative-thinking Rembrandts out of beginners”

Management – personal development – training – family – school.

14 lessons of about 10 minutes each.

The lessons are 100% free, there is nothing to buy … click here.

 – – – – –

A lateral thinking example of changing minds

Demonstrating the use of “po”

(Provocative Operation)

“Let’s get naked!”

A real example of lateral thinking getting me my own way LOL

– Michael Muxworthy, Lateral Thinking Author of Fiction


I was at a gathering of good friends.

It had been awesome catching up with everyone, the evening had been a huge success, but the restaurant was closing. Everyone seemed to be focused on saying goodnight.

I didn’t want the night to end, so I decided to perform a provocative operation.

“Let’s go skinny-dipping in the river and cool off”

(Ha, ha, yes, I really said that … in the middle of a very cold Melbourne winter LOL.)

So, what happened?

  • It focused everyone’s attention towards continuing the night’s festivities;
  • Several people made excellent suggestions, none of which involved getting naked LOL; and
  • Most of us partied on at a new venue.

The original suggestion of skinny-dipping in the middle of winter was a silly suggestion. It was all about changing an outcome I didn’t want.

“Sometimes disruptive creativity is all about taking a situation you aren’t happy with … and changing it”

Provocations can be nonsensical, funny, stupid, impractical, not sensible, business-minded, politically correct, or just plain daft. Oh, and they can be a lot of fun!

(See: PROVOCATIVE OPERATIONS, or “po”, for a deeper understanding)

 – – – – –

Lateral thinking to differentiate example

Demonstrating the use of “Random Starting Points”

“Sometimes … the best person for the job is the person with NO specific experience”

A real example of lateral thinking reducing competition through differentiation.

– Michael Muxworthy, Lateral Thinking Author of Fiction

I was appointed General Manager of a group of Australian auction centers … an industry I knew little about.

Let that sink in for a moment . . .

“I was given the top job despite not having specific experience”

The company was in serious financial difficulty.

General auction is “slim pickings” . . . basically, the idea is (or was) to keep the doors open and hope to pick up a “forced” liquidation or major stock clearance with some sort of regularity.

The managers assured me that they had submitted for every known receivership and forced liquidation, and the ONLY reason they didn’t win a proposal was because of the undercutting of rates by competitors. The competition was tough, with strong downward pressure on commissions.

The task at hand was to find a differentiated niche market that would provide reliable profit with minimal competition.

I called a meeting of senior staff. It didn’t take long for the topics to go stale, the “excuses” to become repetitive, and the mood … defeatist!

“There was a sort of unstated consensus in the room that my appointment to the top job was a huge mistake”


‘Please open a magazine to a random page?’ I asked one of the managers, quite unexpectedly. ‘Without looking at the page, point to a random position. What’s the nearest noun or verb?’

‘I’m pointing to a picture of a man sitting at a desk,’ he told me.

‘Okay, it seems to me that we’re extremely competitive in the auction marketplace, and maybe that’s the problem. Competition drives down . . . ‘

I deliberately left the sentence hanging.

‘Profit?’ said a nervous young manager.

‘Exactly. Competition drives down profit, so let’s keep our competing to a minimum.’

‘How?’ it was a chorus of like minds now.

Competition Vs Differentiation

‘Okay, we’ll use “desk” as a RANDOM STARTING POINT to begin some original thinking,’ I said, to some very confused faces. ‘Give me some thoughts around the word “desk”.’

The young manager eventually shot to his feet.

‘We’re selling “seconds” for a local office furniture manufacturer.’

‘Okay, is that profitable?’

‘No. Office furniture has become too competitive with all the cheap stuff coming in from China.’

‘China!’ I might have startled him. ‘All this new competition from China is driving a lot of businesses to the wall. Let’s seek them out BEFORE they get into receivership. Even if they’re not at risk of going under, maybe they’ve had enough of the low-profit environment and want to get out of business economically and quickly?’

I took the young manager for an impromptu visit to the furniture manufacturer. Four hours later, we had an agreement in place to market and sell everything “NO RESERVE”.

It was the beginning of a new strategy of building close relationships with businesses that were impacted by cheap imports. Lateral thinking had “disrupted” the established ways we thought about doing business.

“Lateral thinking disrupts what exists and frees your mind to consider alternatives”

Random Starting Points became a regular feature at every meeting of management.

It was fun, team building, and it consistently drove the focus of our meetings towards differentiated, non-competitive thinking.

“The introduction of some very simple techniques of disruptive creativity into our meetings helped me shift the focus away from competing”

See the Random Starting Point to learn more.

 – – – – –

Are you ready to try some PRACTICE EXERCISES?

Lateral thinking EXERCISES with EXAMPLES

There are THREE EXERCISES for each of FIVE different lateral thinking tools. 15 exercises in total.

In each exercise, I have a go first to show you how it’s done, then you get a parallel task to see if you can better me. (Like that’s gonna happen LOL).

Engage your imagination. Have a go! And enjoy!!

 – – – – –

An example of lateral thinking for family harmony

Demonstrating the use of “Random Starting Points”

“Sometimes I think we might be the ultimate dysfunctional family”

A real example of lateral thinking in use in our family home

– Michael Muxworthy, Lateral Thinking Author of Fiction

A few years ago, we were having one of our more animated discussions on where to go on holiday. We’ve had our fair share of both successes, and failures. After several weeks had passed without resolution, I decided to get everyone together and try the Random Starting Point lateral thinking tool to see if we could break through the stale thinking.

Pinning a map of Australia to the wall, I gave a throwing dart to my lovely (but slightly inebriated at the time) partner and said …

“Let’s think about what we could do in and around wherever the dart lands”

Well, she threw the dart, and despite being close and the map being of considerable size, she missed completely.

We bought a boat.

Now we take the boat to a mix of destinations and fun opportunities that keeps the whole family (mostly LOL) happy.

We’ve sailed, as a family, more than 4,000 kilometers (so far) and we are considering our first overseas destination as soon as this covid madness settles down properly.

(See RANDOM STARTING POINTS  for a deeper understanding.)

 – – – – –

Lateral thinking example of combining objectives

Demonstrating the use of “Creative Combinations”

The creativity of combining the unexpected

A real example of lateral thinking applied to demanding teenagers 

– Michael Muxworthy, Lateral Thinking Author of Fiction

We have two teenage girls that are quite frankly … demanding! Living on acreage well outside of town, the girls wanted to be driven “everywhere”, causing quite a bit of tension in the household. It felt a bit like our entire lives revolved around the whims of these girls.  LOL

Some other issues causing us concern were:

  • They wanted more pocket money;
  • They wanted more freedom;
  • We were worried about their activities/safety when spending so much time such a long way from home (Melbourne is more than 50 kilometers away);
  • They were unfit and overweight.

Using “creative combinations” we decided to tackle all of these problems with a single comprehensive solution.

The “deal” we offered the girls:

  1. Quality mountain bikes for Xmas;
  2. Whatever we save on car/transport costs they get as additional pocket money;
  3. They must never ride alone at night;
  4. They must always know where the other sister is at all times; and
  5. They must always answer when we call.

One year later . . .

The girls LUV:

  • Having the extra $100/week pocket money (although they must now pay ALL of their own public transport costs and bike repairs/maintenance out of that);
  • Their new-found freedom;
  • Their improved appearance and health;
  • The new network of friends they’ve made with such positive attitudes and activities.


  • The better atmosphere around the house;
  • The fact that they now look out for each other;
  • Having more “adult-only” time;
  • Feeling confident that the girls are taking safety very seriously;
  • That their local friends seem to have negotiated the same deal (and benefits) with their parents;
  • That everyone in the house seems fitter and healthier;
  • We’re doing something positive for the environment;
  • The cops do random drug and alcohol tests on bike riders frequently (LOL);
  • The girls seem happy to self-inflict earlier and more sensible curfew times because of public transport limitations with bikes;
  • That they’re learning to manage money;
  • That they now seem happy to go “with” us to more places now.

I really love this simple and easily recalled tool.

(See CREATIVE COMBINATIONS  for a deeper understanding.)

 – – – – –

Solving problems

“Can I borrow the car?”

Ok, this isn’t an example of lateral thinking, but it IS one of the skills you can learn here on this website. Check out the 14 free lessons here

– Michael Muxworthy, Lateral Thinking Author of Fiction


Lateral thinking/creative tool in play: PROBLEM-SOLVING


ONE:       What is the REAL problem?

TWO:      What is the cause, (or causes), of the problem?

THREE:   What are the possible solutions?

FOUR:     What is the BEST possible solution?

Let’s look at a problem I faced recently . . .

Julie (not her real name) had just got her driver’s license and wanted my permission to borrow the car … after her mom has said “NO!”

Julie thought we were being unfair by NOT TRUSTING HER.

“If you hadn’t MADE me finish school, I would have a job and could’ve bought my own car”, she insisted. “You would have had no say in it then!”

Julie and her mom were both in tears over the issue.

LOL . . . memories!

ONE: What then, is the real problem?

Mom insisted the problem was about “safety”.

Julie insisted the problem was about “trust”.



After much discussion and more tears, we determined that the real problem wasn’t about trust, it wasn’t about safety … it was about her mother’s (and mine also) fears NOT being satisfactorily dispelled by Julie.

With all parties in agreement, NOW we can move on.

(N.B. We’ve made no judgment here as to whether the fears are real, imagined, or reasonable. That is irrelevant to this stage of the process.)

TWO: What are the causes of this problem?

Mom says:

  • Beginner drivers are disproportionately killed on the road;
  • Julie’s skills are not yet what they could be;
  • Some of Julie’s “less than sensible” friends might encourage her to push beyond her ability.

Julie says:

  • She’s an adult now, and should be treated as such;
  • She will have to be able to drive on her own eventually anyway;
  • She passed her driver’s test without a single blemish;
  • She’s done MUCH MORE than the recommended hours of driver training.

I say:

  • Julie needs to consider the stress she is causing us.

THREE: What are the possible solutions?

In no particular order we brainstormed between us (and Julie’s younger sister):

  • Do more hours driving practice with one of the adults sitting beside her;
  • Start off with short journeys alone;
  • No passengers allowed for the first few weeks;
  • Advanced skills driving course;
  • Journey computer in the car to record speeds/locations etc;
  • Daylight only until more practiced;
  • Dry weather only and definitely no icy roads without specific training;
  • Staged/gradual relaxations of the rules as she proves herself.

FOUR: What is the best possible solution?

“From conflict comes opportunity”

This is why I’m sooooo passionate about creative and lateral thinking. We started with a bad situation and we’re about to turn it into a positive. Here is what we decided …

  1. Julie IS allowed to use the car on her own for very short journeys only and without passengers, until she completes an additional 10 hours of driving experience on the busy Melbourne roads with either myself or her mother beside her;
  2. After 10 hours of extra experience on the busy city roads, she IS allowed to drive to Melbourne in daylight hours only, and still, no passengers allowed. During this time, she must complete an additional 10 hours of nighttime supervised training on the busy city roads;
  3. After the now 20 hours day/night experience, she IS allowed to borrow the car at any time that doesn’t have inclement weather or icy roads. Still no friends in the car though. Before being given open access to the car and being allowed to have friends on board, she must complete a further 10 hours of supervised driving in “poor and dangerous driving conditions”.
  4. The vehicle’s onboard computer and tracking technology (with camera) must remain on at all times.

The outcome: Two weeks later, Julie had full access to the car. Her driving skills had improved considerably, and she was a model of safety for her soon-to-be driving younger sister.

It’s always a worry when new drivers first hit the roads, but I think we’ve prepared this young one as best as possible.

These four simple provocative questions should be considered for EVERY significant or important problem you face for the rest of your life.

(See Problem Solving for a deeper understanding.)

 – – – – –

Judgment of Solomon

” . . . don’t kill him!”

The Judgement of Soloman

An Edward de Bono quoted lateral thinking example


This is a story about King Solomon of Israel from the Hebrew Bible.

King Solomon was faced with the dilemma of ruling between two women who were both claiming the same child as their own. Two mothers of infant boys lived in the same house. One of the boys died, and both mothers claimed the surviving infant as their own.

“Cut the child into two”

Soloman called for a sword, declaring that each mother would be given half. One mother declared that if she couldn’t have the child, neither of them could. The other mother couldn’t accept the judgment. She begged Solomon …

“Give the baby to her, just don’t kill him!”

King Solomon declared the second woman the true mother because a mother would give up her baby if it was necessary to save the infant’s life. Throughout all of Israel, this wise judgment was to become considered an example of profound wisdom.

Edward de Bono recognized this to be an example of lateral thinking when he first introduced the subject in 1967.

 – – – –

I use disruptive lateral thinking strategies to advance my writing, develop my plots, and delight my readers.

Lateral thinking for authors and writers

 … and take your writing to a whole new level

 – – – – –

De Bono's tale of two pebbles

“I want to marry your daughter”


The Tale of Two Pebbles

An all-time classic Lateral Thinking Example

From Edward de Bono

A poor Indian farmer owed a great deal of money to an evil moneylender. The moneylender was very old and ugly, and he fancied the farmer’s very attractive daughter, so he offered a bargain to the farmer.

The moneylender offered to forgo the debt owed by the farmer if he could marry his daughter. Farmer and daughter were horrified. The moneylender was cunning though and suggested they let fate determine the matter. He told them that he’d put both a black pebble and a white pebble into an empty bag so that the girl could pick one pebble from the bag. The possible outcomes at this point were:

  1. A black pebble meant she would become the moneylender’s wife and her father’s debt would be forgiven;
  2. A white pebble meant she need not marry the moneylender and her father’s debt would be paid.
  3. Refusing to pick a pebble meant that her father would be thrown into debtors’ jail.

The conversation occurred as they were standing on a pebbled path near a creek. As they talked, the moneylender bent over and picked up two pebbles. As he was picking them up, the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles. He then asked the girl to pick a pebble from the bag.

At this point, you imagine yourself advising the daughter. What would you tell her?

Using normal (vertical) logic only three possibilities seem possible:

  1. Refuse to pick a pebble leading to her father having to go to jail;
  2. Expose the money-lender as a cheat, but her father would end up going to jail anyway.
  3. She should sacrifice herself in order to save her father from his debt and jail.

The girl’s dilemma cannot be solved with traditional logical thinking. Think of the consequences if she chooses the above logical answers.

Using lateral thinking you devise a far superior outcome and you advise the daughter.

The girl puts her hand into the bag and draws out a black pebble. Without looking at it or allowing it to be seen, she fumbles and lets it fall onto the pebbled path where it becomes lost among all the other pebbles.

“Sorry!” she says. “However, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked.”

Since the remaining pebble is black, it must be assumed that she had picked the white one.

The money-lender dared not admit his dishonesty. You have changed what seemed an impossible situation into an extremely advantageous one.

 – – – – –

Creative thinking methods for self-improvement:

Goal-setting – Public speaking – Problem-solving – Time management – “Backwards” planning – Memory skill

Or … do the complete course of 14 FREE lessons … Get started!

Each lesson takes about 10 minutes … the benefits last a lifetime.

 – – – – –

Learn this lateral thinking course

“Are you up to the challenge?”

Lateral thinking PUZZLES – TOP 70

 – – – – –

Lateral thinking example of river factory

“The factory is downstream of itself”


The River Factory Lateral Thinking Example

De Bono suggests that “each factory must be downstream of itself”. In other words, factories should be required to have their water intake downstream from their outflow pipes.

The thinking behind this is that the quality of water flowing out of a factory is much more important to that factory. Simple … and brilliant!

 – – – – –

Ever-increasingly, senior management recruiters are looking for a high degree of creativity … the ability to look past the competition and differentiate … to find simple solutions and “workarounds” for difficult problems.

Two of Australia’s TOP recruitment experts reveal the lateral thinking questions they typically pose to applicants …

Lateral thinking job interview questions and resume inclusions

 – – – – –

Lateral thinking example of supplying incubators

The 4WD Incubator Lateral Thinking Example

In 1998 Katmandu, Nepal, there was a critical shortage of working incubators for new-born children. An incredible 96% of all incubators in Nepal were out of operation within 5 years of use; broken down and unable to be fixed because of a lack of knowledge.

An aid worker working in Katmandu noticed a strong presence of Toyota 4 Runners. They were popular because there was plenty of parts and local expertise. It was a thriving industry.

The lateral thinking solution devised was to build incubators out of Toyota parts so that the local mechanics easily identified problems and made repairs.

 – – – – –

Lessons that use real examples . . . to teach lateral thinking skills

Provocation Operation (po) – Alternative Perspective – Random Starting Points – Creative Combinations – Working Backwards – Escape Dominant Thinking – Challenge Existing Assumptions

 – – – – –


Test yourself!

Lateral Thinking Puzzles

 – – – – –

I’m not too sure about this next classic lateral thinking example. It might be true. It’s certainly hilarious.

Classic lateral thinking example of letter from jail

The Letter From Jail Lateral Thinking Example

A man who had been locked up in jail for several years knew that his mail was being read by the authorities. He and his wife would write to each other on a regular basis. One day, the man received a letter telling him that she wanted to begin planting the vegetable garden but she couldn’t operate the rotor-tiller. The ground was extremely hard and without the aide of the tiller, she didn’t think she could manage the task.

The husband thought about this for a while, and then he wrote back . . .

“Stop immediately! Do NOT plant anything in the vegetable garden. That’s where all the money and gold is hidden!!”

About a week later, the woman wrote back to her husband . . .

“I knew I married a very smart man. A dozen police officers just left here muddied and exhausted after digging up the vegetable garden for several hours. There will be fresh vegetables on the table by the time you get back home.”

 – – – – –

The Failed Baseball Bat Lateral Thinking Example

Lateral thinking example of baseball bat
Classic baseball bat example of lateral thinking in business

A businessman decides to cash in on a wave of recent enthusiasm in the game of baseball. He orders and pays (non-refundable) for 100,000 baseball bats in advance to be made in China. The Chinese however, know very little about the “science” of making quality baseball bats. When the bats arrive, they are vastly inferior to the bats made in America. They only hit the ball HALF as far.

What does the businessman do?

He turns the situation to his advantage and orders 100,000 baseballs from the Chinese KNOWING that they will also be inferior and not be able to fly as far.

He then promotes his baseball bats and balls as the PERFECT combination for use in the backyard and makes a healthy profit.

 – – – – –

The Coca-Cola Piggyback Lateral Thinking Example

Lateral thinking example with Coca-Cola
Coca-Cola lateral thinking example

In the late 1980’s, one in every five children under the age of five that lived in remote areas of Zambia died because of very simple causes, a significant one being dehydration caused by diarrhea. A man by the name of Simon Berry who worked for the British Aid Program put his mind to the problem.

The task at hand was to somehow organize the efficient and widespread distribution of oral rehydration salts. Transportation and road infrastructure was a disaster in Zambia at this time. Despite numerous and repeated attempts, virtually NOTHING was getting through to the people most in need. He needed to find a solution.

Simon noted something in his widespread travels throughout Zambia . . . no matter how remote the location, Coca-Cola somehow found its way there in reliable quantities. The Coca-Cola organization didn’t have formal organized methods for getting their product through. It was simply a case of the people loving the product so much that the demand found a way through.

Simon eventually created “AidPods”, which were small packages of the badly needed oral rehydration salts that neatly fitted in between the spouts and necks of the Coke bottles. Every carton of Coke delivered in rural areas included the packages. Many lives were saved.

 – – – – –

This classic lateral thinking example is one you can easily relate to.

The Bus Stop Lateral Thinking Example

Lateral thinking example of bus stop choice
Classic bus stop example of lateral thinking

A man drives along an open, rural and exposed road on a cold, wet and windy night. As he approaches an isolated bus stop he notices that there are 3 people waiting:

  1. An old lady in urgent need of medical attention;
  2. His best mate who only recently saved his life; and
  3. A beautiful girl that he has been wanting to meet and ask out for a while.

He decides to stop and help out, but his car only holds the driver and one passenger. He will not overload his car. What is the best option?

In this lateral thinking classic example, the man uses the circumstances to his ULTIMATE advantage.

The man stops at the bus stop and gets out of his car. He says to his best mate “I know you are great at helping people. Please take my car and get this old lady to the hospital. I will catch the bus with this young lady and keep her safe until it comes”.

He makes a good impression with the young lady, helps his mate, and gets the old lady the help she needs.

 – – – – –

These additional example pages might also help:

Examples of lateral thinking questions in job interviewsClick here.

Lateral thinking practice exercisesClick here.

Examples specific to Provocation Operation (po) as a lesson … Click here.

Example of Alternative Perspective use in police work as a lesson … Click here.

Examples of Random Starting Points as a lesson … Click here.

Examples of Creative Combinations as a lesson … Click here.

Examples of Working Backwards as a lesson … Click here.

Examples of how to Escape Dominant Thinking as a lesson … Click here.

Examples of the importance of Challenge Existing Assumptions as a lesson … Click here.

– – – – –

Check out the concise definition: Lateral thinking

 – – – – –

Check out the blurb for my approaching book:

“We should never have trusted the aliens”