Lateral thinking practical exercises

Exercises that develop your lateral thinking techniques


On this page, you will find exercises that use five of my favorite lateral thinking tools of disruption.

Each lateral thinking tool has three exercises. Each exercise leads with an example to assist you on your way.

The lateral thinking tools we’ll be using:

  1. Random Starting Points;
  2. Alternative Perspectives;
  3. Challenge Existing Concepts;
  4. Escape Dominant Thinking; and
  5. Creative Combinations.

Let’s dive straight in …

1st lateral thinking exercise tool:

Random Starting Points

(aka random entry point), (aka random external stimulus technique)


N.B. If you are unfamiliar with this tool, please review: RANDOM STARTING POINT (RSP)

(RSP) Exercise ONE


My random word found on the page of a magazine … “Bonds”.

I started by thinking of what type of “bonds” there are, and came up with these:

  1. Security “bond”. I could rent my home out while I’m away or house swap;
  2. Take advantage of existing “bonds” with family/ friends/ organizations. Diverse opportunities here;
  3. Create “bonds”/ties with the community where I regularly holiday. They may invite me to things, give discounts or free/cheaper accommodation;
  4. Use any work/client bonds. They may want to look after me and promote a closer relationship;
  5. James Bond, secret agent 007? I could use my holiday to “investigate” new business or investment opportunities, or, holiday near some of my business opposition, and use the opportunity to “spy” on their activities LOL;
  6. I could write a new novel/”spy” novel while relaxing.


  1. Go to any book, newspaper, or magazine and select a random word;
  2. Apply the RSP to the “TAKING A HOLIDAY” of your own circumstances.


How did you go?

If you need/want a deeper understanding of how Random Starting Points are used most effectively, take a quick look at this free lesson: Random Starting Points

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I think I might have the most dysfunctional family on the planet sometimes … LOL.

See the power of creativity at work in everyday real situations HERE

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(RSP) Exercise TWO


I asked my partner to give me a random word. She gave me … “Portrait”.

Painting a portrait/take a picture/video. My best is:

  1. Record the installation of quality inclusions and installations (like insulation) thereby creating a record of the high standard of build quality to be used when I eventually sell;
  2. Think about where I want to put things like works of art and hangings, even the TV etc before I choose the window and door positions. Too many designs forget this; and
  3. I could post pictures on social media about my project to stimulate ideas from others, attract special offers and discounts;
  4. I could take pictures of the family at tree plantings and different stages of development of the property to show how the home and garden has grown with the family.


  1. Choose a random starting point;
  2. Appy it to the same “BUILDING A NEW HOME (or renovating)” idea and see what you can come up with.

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Test yourself with these brainteasing Puzzles

Or … if you have some kids close by …

Puzzles that stimulate young minds

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(RSP) Exercise THREE


My randomly generated starting point from the first word I heard on the TV … “Barometer”.

(Ha, ha, you are allowed to go back and choose another word, but, I’m here to demonstrate that all RSPs have potential value). I (eventually) came up with:

  1. I could take the barometer readings at the top and bottom of the building and use the differences to estimate height;
  2. Tie a string to the barometer and lower it from the top. Then measure the string;
  3. I could offer the construction manager a bribe. “Work out the current height of the building for me and I’ll give you this great barometer”; and
  4. I could position myself at a measured distance well away from the building. Using site lines and placing the barometer in front of my vision so it exactly matches the height of the building. I could then use geometry to get the measure. (That was hard LOL).

Sometimes, you just need to pick another word, or two words, or more.


  1. Create a random starting point;
  2. Apply it to the problem “FIND THE EASIEST NEW WAY ACROSS THE LOCAL CREEK” and see what you can come up with.

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Competition Vs differentiation

“Competition” reduces profit. “Innovation” lifts profit.

Let me show you how with these examples of lateral thinking in use in BUSINESS

2nd lateral thinking exercise tool:

Alternative Perspectives (AP)

Lateral thinking to solve crimes
Detectives use Alternative Perspectives

N.B. If you are unfamiliar with this tool, please take a look at: ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVES

(AP) Exercise ONE


I want to create a “surprise” 40th birthday party for my sister.

I role-played some alternative perspectives.

Mom’s perspective:

  • Elderly relatives might like to come earlier and not “party” like some of the younger crowd;
  • A display of some old family photos.

My sister’s best friend:

  • I could check the guest-list with her;
  • Can help me avoid “conflict” invitations;

Her husband:

  • Would be able to get her out of the house (without arousing suspicion) so we can put everything in place;
  • Would possibly be able to give greater insight into what she wants at her birthday party.

The kids (2 teenage boys):

  • Design a space for the kids to “hang” away from the adults;
  • Some games/activities to break the ice with the other kids they don’t know well.

The neighbors:

  • Get them onside (an invitation) for any noise.

Her boss:

  • Could “unexpectedly” keep her back late at work or take her for an after-work drink;
  • Maybe invite a crowd from work.

The ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVES lateral thinking tool has created some good ideas here, don’t you think?


  1. Imagine that you are organizing a birthday party for someone you know;
  2. Consider the ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVES of others to see what great ideas you can come up with.

See My FREE lateral thinking lesson Alternative Perspectives for a deeper understanding. Click here


How did you go?

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Creative skills lead to improved opportunities in every aspect of your life. Be creative:


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(AP) Exercise TWO


I want to build a marina somewhere on Australia’s idyllic east coast.

I “role-played” some perspectives I imagined to be important to the success of the project.

Marine business owners:

  • What attracts them to open an outlet at my Marina;
  • Ask them for input and cautions.

Fishermen (pro and amateur):

  • Talk to the local professionals to understand their needs;
  • Get local knowledge about boating conditions/hazards before design.

Local council member:

  • Try to anticipate problems;
  • Get insight into what sort of objections I might face.

Local Residents:

  • Anticipate the concerns of locals;
  • Make sure access roads are neighbor-friendly;
  • Position noise away from residential.

Boat owners:

  • What do they like and dislike about the competition marinas?

Future onsite manager:

  • Think about how to keep that person “on top” of the operation at all times.

Investors in the project:

  • Devise a number of different investments for people who use the marina.

Alternative Perspectives is a simple and effective lateral thinking tool … do you agree?


  1. Imagine that you are about to build a caravan park in a location you like;
  2. Consider the ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVES of others to see what great ideas you can come up with.

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Take a quick break to look at my vision for the future of creative thinking:

What is Lateral Thinking? And what is its future?

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(AP) Exercise THREE


Consider the perspectives of prospective buyers.

Elderly people:

  • Safety and security imagery;
  • Images of a close community/bond with neighbors;
  • Show off the security at the entrance to the park;
  • Make sure you highlight any “convenience” advantages like shops/bus/doctor etc.


  • Give an estimate of the rent potential;
  • Explain the low maintenance features;

Buying for relocation:

  • Demonstrate/explain mobility;
  • Show any versatility of the layout/interior/extensions;
  • Show imagery of “granny flat” potential.

I rushed this exercise due to family about to arrive. The above ideas took about one or two minutes, and I’ll bet that they already SMASH the ideas of competitive ads. Alternative Perspectives is a very powerful and easy to use lateral thinking tool.


  1. Imagine that you are creating an ad to sell a boat;
  2. Consider the ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVES of others to see what great ideas you can come up with.

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Check out these examples pages:

Everyday Examples

Examples in Business

3rd lateral thinking exercise tool:

Challenge Existing Concepts (CEC)

Always challenge existing concepts

Challenge the status quo

Please quickly read through CEC Lesson 6 if you’re not confident about what is required here.

(CEC) Exercise ONE

Why drive to work?

Ideas that come to mind:

  1. Work from home (occasionally);
  2. Car sharing;
  3. Make it an opportunity to train a learner-driver;
  4. Set up some prepared calls to clients that can happen as you drive;
  5. Drive a client or work colleague to their work regularly as a way to make the time productive;
  6. Drive to the kids’ school and bus from there;
  7. Drive to a train station that serves both kids and you;
  8. Drive to the gym and then share a ride after a workout;
  9. Public transport;
  10. Leave the car near the shopping center so you can easily get what you need on the return trip home;
  11. Get a bicycle/scooter;
  12. Walk/fitness;
  13. An office at home;
  14. Move my office closer to home;
  15. Move closer to work;
  16. Buy a small apartment near work for times you just don’t want to drive.

Sometimes, we get into a habit too easily. Challenge everything occasionally to always strive for better.


  • Choose a location that you regularly travel to:
  • Ask “why do I drive/bus/train there?”;
  • Try to come up with 5 or more interesting alternatives.

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Bookmark the full range of free creative tools available:

Lateral thinking TOOLS

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(CEC) Exercise TWO

Why do roads always look so drab?

  1. Different colors mean different speeds/safety concerns;
  2. Routes could be color-coded for tourists;
  3. Neighborhoods could have themed roads;
  4. White roads reflect heat;
  5. Barriers could be replaced with suitable plants;
  6. Residents could be given the opportunity to decorate roads outside their properties;
  7. Cobbled or bright red surfaces in known past trouble spots.

Honestly, I do like some of my ideas.


  • Apply the same thinking to sidewalks/footpaths;
  • Ask why are they mostly so drab:
  • See how many ideas you can come up with.

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Check out some great examples of lateral thinking in play here: Lateral thinking daily life

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(CEC) Exercise THREE

Why do we get engaged before we marry?

  1. Maybe ADD several more formal steps in the process to be sure you have the right partner;
  2. We could introduce legal contracts before marriage that slowly ease the new couple into a lifetime commitment;
  3. We could have “trial marriage periods” during which time either partner could pull out without obligation;
  4. Instead of getting “engaged”, couples could attend marriage universities/courses before tieing the knot;
  5. Not just the couple … the families get engaged. It becomes something bigger;
  6. Create “multiple stages” in the engagement process designed to prepare for future difficulties. Something like “care for multiple children for a week” etc.


  • Apply the same thinking to any other formal process of your choosing;
  • Challenge the way things have always been done;
  • See how many ideas you can come up with.

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If you are this deep into a page full of exercises, you have what it takes … WELL DONE!

I need fresh “disruptive” thinkers to critically beta-read my upcoming novel.

If you are showing genuine aptitude and passion for the greater subjects of creativity and disruptive thinking … if you believe you’re a potential “top 3%er”, don’t be modest, please use my contact page to get in touch.

CONTACT Michael Muxworthy about critical beta-reading

4th lateral thinking exercise tool:

Escape Dominant Thinking (EDT)

Lateral thinking tool to escape dominant thinking

With many things in life, there is a dominant way of thinking; a prevailing idea or accepted “norm”. It usually comes about because something is successful and works well. Try recognizing dominant thinking, and deliberately going off on a tangent.

We’re not attempting to “swim against the tide”, we’re simply doing a review to make sure we haven’t missed any opportunities for something better.

If you are not familiar with this skill, take a quick look at my free lesson:


(EDT) Exercise ONE

Don’t wreck the holiday, Dad!

Every year you go to the same holiday spot because you love it soooo much. You and your family look forward to this vacation all year long.

The temptation is to leave the holiday untouched. Disruptive lateral thinking is all about challenging EVERYTHING. Some of my thoughts, without risking spoiling the greater success of the holidays, are:

  1. Extend an invitation to wider family and friends to holiday near/with us;
  2. Buy a family investment property at the destination;
  3. Move there;
  4. Consider varying the timing to take advantage of events etc;
  5. Consider trying different accommodation;
  6. Change the way we get there (and leave). Maybe a stopover at some great spot or …


  • Apply the same thinking to your favorite weekend/time off activity;
  • Remember, don’t risk the fundamental success of your activity, just think about “tweaking” it a little;
  • See how many interesting ideas you can come up with.

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If there was ever a page you needed to bookmark to secure your future success and happiness, it is this one:

A page full of creative TOOLS

Easy access to everything you need to kickstart your creativity. Enjoy!

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(EDT) Exercise TWO

Mom’s happy, maybe we shouldn’t interfere?

My elderly mother loves to go to the library to catch up with friends, attend interesting talks and events, and keep up with the news.

It’s great that she still gets out. The last thing I want to do is get in the way.

However, it is still worth taking a creative look at the activity to see if something can be tweaked:

  1. Send the grandkids with her occasionally so that they can learn something and Mom can show them off;
  2. It is a great opportunity to help Mom learn to do some things on a computer;
  3. Christmas and birthday gifts could become related to what she most enjoys at the library;
  4. Attend with her occasionally to learn more about her likes, friends, etc;
  5. Let the library know what interests Mom has so they might create something that pleases her;
  6. Change my routine so I can drop/pick her up sometimes.


  • Apply the same thinking to any specific activity of a person you care about;
  • Don’t get in the way, just try to add something extra, or tweak something better;
  • Try to come up with five or more gentle persuasions.

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You’ve come this far. Do the free course. 14 powerful lessons in creativity that will change your life forever … guaranteed! Learn the skills and teach others:


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(EDT) Exercise THREE

Don’t mess with my profits!

Your cafe has a coffee stand out front that is enormously popular with commuters who want good coffee fast. It is the MOST profitable and successful part of your business.

  1. Offer additional things for commuters like magazines, puzzle books, crosswords;
  2. Expand to include health shakes and “smoothies” for those out on an exercise run or ride;
  3. Set up a carpool register at the cafe;
  4. Advertise on your coffee cups with other stuff your cafe can offer commuters;
  5. Let other businesses subsidize the price of their coffee through advertising; Offer a 20 cent discount if you accept a cup with advertising;
  6. Provide public transport information/tickets/cards; and
  7. Offer pre-packed lunches for those that run out of time in the mornings.


  • Think about something that is highly successful in your experience;
  • Without undermining the success, see what ideas you can come up with.

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Test yourself:

Stimulating Puzzles

5th lateral thinking exercise tool:

Creative Combinations (CC)

The creativity of combining the unexpected


Creativity is merely the combining of things that already exist.

An artist combines existing colors on a canvas to create something new. A musician combines existing notes in a new way to create the latest hit. Creativity of the mind is no different.

CREATIVE COMBINATIONS are the simplest, yet most powerful exercises on this page. I left them for last … for those that are truly passionate.

Please quickly read through CC Lesson 11 if you’re not confident about what is required here.


(EDT) Exercise ONE

Let’s start with something simple.


The potential things to combine are:

  1. Dinner;
  2. Exercise;
  3. Presents for Xmas;
  4. Fishing; and
  5. Customers waiting.

I told you this one was easy. Here are my thoughts:

  1. Provide a fully equipped mini-gym for waiting customers (I’d never go anywhere else);
  2. Do a “joint service for the holidays” promo for those with boats and cars;
  3. Offer Xmas service vouchers that can be given as gifts;
  4. Carry a small range of gift items to tempt customers as they wait;
  5. Offer free use of bicycles until the car is ready (ride to work);
  6. Do a promo with a local market or deli so your customers do a bit of shopping while they wait.

Imagine this!

I see a service center filled with opportunities to experience and do stuff while you wait. There’s a free mini-gym for those who like to exercise. On display is a range of products available from stores in the immediate (walking distance) area. This service center also promotes a fishing club and offers pushbikes instead of courtesy cars.

Basically, the idea is to promote to, and profit from, the downtime people spend in your waiting rooms, and also to differentiate … to go after a “fitness/health” niche that will appreciate the unique offers.

Remember, you can combine anything; your imagination is your only limit here.


You own an ART GALLERY.

The things you consider combining are:

  1. The kids getting a raise in their allowance;
  2. Saving petrol;
  3. Going on a diet;
  4. Attracting new artists; and
  5. Reducing costs.

A nice easy start, yes? How did you go?

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Check out some great examples of lateral thinking in play here:

Lateral Thinking Everyday Examples

Lateral Thinking Examples in Business

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(EDT) Exercise TWO

A little bit harder this time:

Spice up your “SINGLE LIFE”.

The things you consider combining are:

  1. Party;
  2. Your hairdressing job;
  3. Camping;
  4. Dating; and
  5. A football game.

Here are my thoughts:

  1. Throw an outdoor party where guests can bring a tent;
  2. Get your work to sponsor a hair competition at your party;
  3. Invite your single friends and their single friends camping;
  4. A “hair-themed” party that gives away your preferences to attract a like-minded partner. (Green hair = greenie, blue = Democrat, spiked = musical. black ribbon = likes football, yellow hat = loves movies; etc etc); and
  5. Get work to do a hair color promo to support various teams so you can meet other supporters of your favorite club.

A lot of fun combinations.


You move to a new city and you want to MAKE NEW FRIENDS.

The things you consider combining are:

  1. This time I’d like you to think of some things (4 or 5, keep it simple for now) you might combine;
  2. Write them down BEFORE proceeding.

How did you go?

If you want to be creative for the rest of your life …



(EDT) Exercise THREE

This one is much harder.


  1. Alien conspiracies;
  2. Lateral thinking;
  3. The President Kennedy assassination;
  4. UFOs;
  5. Laissez-Faire economics;
  6. New evolution theory; and
  7. Breakthrough philosophy.

What did I come up with?

We should never have trusted the aliens!

Sorry to trick you on that one, but you’ll have to read the book to understand how lateral thinking has brought those things together for the most incredible revelations in HISTORY

There are no right or wrong answers to these lateral thinking exercises. You will, however, find that if you can make it a habit to think creatively, your creative thinking WILL improve substantially. I strongly recommend that you do the creative thinking course I have designed for this website. It’s absolutely free, short, and powerful.



  • Combine them in as many ways as you can imagine; and
  • Let your passions grow.

Life is too short not to make the most of every single minute.

Everything has a purpose … to evolve.

Allow creativity into your life … and evolve.

More/new tools and exercises will be posted in the coming weeks.

Bookmark this page!


Check out the concise definition: What is lateral thinking?

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For the complete lateral thinking menuClick here

All the best,

Michael Muxworthy

Disruptive Lateral Thinking Author of Fiction

Coming soon:

For most of his adult life, Evan Armstrong has been afflicted by dreams of a frightening encounter that warns of an apocalyptic future. A traumatic incident ends the dreams, to be replaced by fractured memories of something he was never meant to remember.

A twisted evolutionary pathway . . . a bridge from science to religion. Was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy an unintended consequence of Roswell?

Illuminati – Majestic 12 – Freemasons – A New World Order

 Not just theories . . . you will believe.

Michael Muxworthy Sci-fi Novel
Coming soon – Michael Muxworthy

We should never have trusted the aliens, the first novel in the “Lateral thinking investigations . . . of the third kind” series is nearing completion. Sharpen your skills, do my free lateral thinking course. Get ready to have your entire world tipped upside down as I apply lateral thinking to the alien question.

Michael Muxworthy

Lateral Thinking Investigations . . . of the Third kind

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