Lateral thinking exercises

Welcome to Michael Muxworthy’s lateral thinking exercises that are designed to stimulate your mind and support the learning process offered in my free creativity, lateral thinking, personal development and creative management training lessons.

If it has ever been your desire to master the creativity of thought, click here.

The exercises here relate to specific skills we are leaning within the lessons that appear to the right. The lessons are categorized by the creative thinking type. Possible solutions to these exercises are shown at the bottom of the page.

(Random starting points are taught in free lateral thinking lesson 2)

Exercises using Random Starting Points

(or random entry points), (or random external stimulus technique).

This technique involves choosing a random starting point and applying it to something. Please refer to Lesson 2 for greater detail about this powerful lateral thinking tool.

Lateral thinking exercise ONE (1)

You are planning a holiday. Your randomly generated starting point is “Bonds”.

(See my ideas below, but ONLY after you have come up with your own ideas)

Lateral thinking exercise TWO (2)

You are building a new home. Your randomly generated starting point is “Portrait”.

(See my ideas below, but ONLY after you have come up with your own ideas)

Lateral thinking exercise THREE (3)

You need to determine the height of a tall building that is near completion. Your randomly generated starting point is “Barometer”.

(See my ideas below, but ONLY after you have come up with your own ideas)


Exercises that involve Alternative Perspectives

This technique involves the consideration of the perspectives of others. Please read lesson 4 before attempting these.

Lateral thinking exercise FOUR (4)

You want to create a “surprise” 40th birthday party for your sister.

You can relate this to your own circumstances or you can make it up. See what your lateral thinking creativity can devise, it must be one awesome event.

(See my ideas below, but ONLY after you have come up with your own ideas)

Lateral thinking exercise FIVE (5)

You are planning to build a marina on the east coast of Australia. It can be any type of marina, but you need to make this venture a commercial success!

(See my ideas below, but ONLY after you have come up with your own ideas)

Lateral thinking exercise SIX (6)

You have a mobile home for sale and you are creating an ad online. You want the best price!

(See my ideas below, but ONLY after you have come up with your own ideas)


Exercises that Challenge Existing Concepts

This technique is about challenging the status quo. Ask the question “why”? Please quickly read through Lesson 6 to fully understand what is required here.

Lateral thinking exercise SEVEN (7)

Why do you drive to work?

(See my ideas below, but ONLY after you have come up with your own ideas)

Lateral thinking exercise EIGHT (8)

Why do roads always look so drab?

(See my ideas below, but ONLY after you have come up with your own ideas)

Lateral thinking exercise NINE (9)

Why do we have wars?

(See my ideas below, but ONLY after you have come up with your own ideas)


Exercises that Escape Dominant Thinking

This exercise is about reviewing thinking that is dominant usually because something has been successful and worked for a long time. You should quickly review lesson 7 before attempting these.

Lateral thinking exercise TEN (10)

Every year you go to the same holiday spot with your family because it is awesome. All your family looks forward to this vacation all year long.

(See my ideas below, but ONLY after you have come up with your own ideas)

Lateral thinking exercise ELEVEN (11)

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

(See my ideas below, but ONLY after you have come up with your own ideas)

Lateral thinking exercise TWELVE (12)

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.

(See my ideas below, but ONLY after you have come up with your own ideas)


Exercises that use Creative Combinations

This technique is the combining of things in ways not previously considered. This is a massively powerful tool to use in major projects or as simple as using it around the home to create efficiency in the home. Please read through lesson 11 before you proceed for maximum benefit. Remember, you don’t have to combine ALL of the things, you just have to see what can be combined;

Lateral thinking exercise THIRTEEN (13)

Let’s start with something simple. The potential things to combine are:

Exercise; getting dinner made; getting presents for Xmas; fishing; and your customers waiting for their car to be serviced.

(See my ideas below, but ONLY after you have come up with your own ideas)

Lateral thinking exercise FOURTEEN (14)

A little bit harder this time:

Party; hairdressing; camping; dating; and getting to the football game.

(See my ideas below, but ONLY after you have come up with your own ideas)

Lateral thinking exercise FIFTEEN (15)

This one is a little bit harder:

Alien, lateral thinking; President Kennedy; the Cold War; genocide in Rwanda; UFOs; Qantas; romance; Armageddon; supercomputers; secret oaths; military coverups; Laissez-Faire economics; evolution and religion.

(See my ideas below, but ONLY after you have come up with your own ideas)


Possible Answers

How did you go?

Here are the author’s attempts at each lateral thinking exercise. Are you as good a lateral thinker as you think you are?


Exercises using Random Starting Points – Answers

(or random entry points), (or random external stimulus technique)

This technique involves choosing a random starting point and applying it to something. For a more complete understanding of this lateral thinking principle, please go to free Lesson 2.

Lateral thinking exercise ONE (1) suggestions

(You are planning a holiday. Your randomly generated starting point is “Bonds”.)

I started by thinking of what type of “bonds” there are and came up with my top two:

  1. Security bond. You could rent your home out while you are away;
  2. Take advantage of bonds with family, friends, organizations and ask for ideas, accommodation; activities, loans of cars etc etc etc; and
  3. Create strong ties with the community where you holiday. They may invite you to things, give discounts or free accommodation, or even house swap at holiday time.

Lateral thinking exercise TWO (2) suggestions

(You are building a new home. Your randomly generated starting point is “Portrait”.)

Hmmmm. Painting a portrait/taking a picture/video. My best is:

  1. Record the installation of quality inclusions and installations (like insulation) thereby creating a record of quality to be used when you eventually sell the place;
  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. You could post pictures on your social media about your project to stimulate ideas from others, attract special offers and discounts.

Lateral thinking exercise THREE (3) suggestions

(You need to determine the height of a tall building that is near completion. Your randomly generated starting point is “Barometer”.)

This is one for the imagination. My favorite methods are:

  1. You could take the barometer readings at the top and bottom of the building and use the differences to determine height;
  2. Tie a string to the barometer and lower it from the top. Then measure the string;
  3. You could offer the construction manager a bribe. “Tell me the height of the building and the barometer is yours”; and
  4. You could position yourself at a measured distance well away from the building. Using site lines and placing the barometer in front of your vision so it exactly matches the height of the building. You could use geometry to get the measure.

Consider doing my course on lateral thinking, creative thinking, personal development and creative management skills. It’s 100% FREE. Click here


Exercises that involve Alternative Perspectives – Answers

This technique involves the consideration of the perspectives of others. For a more complete understanding of this lateral thinking principle, please go to lesson 4.

Lateral thinking exercise FOUR (4) suggestions

(You want to create a “surprise” 40th birthday party for your sister.)

Let’s assume you actually like your sister, my alternative perspective ideas were:

  1. Mum, Dad and elderly relatives might like to come earlier and not “party” like some of the younger crowd;
  2. Mum would love to show off some family photos;
  3. Her best friend would be aware of any “conflict” to potentially avoid, and also know who best to invite;
  4. Her husband would know her habits, and what would get her out of the house so you can organize the party. He will have insights to things your sister would really like to have there;
  5. The neighbors may like an invite. the party needs to be sensitive to any issues there that could disrupt things such as a noise complaint;
  6. Her boss might be able to keep her at work doing overtime, or even use the occasion to announce her promotion or do something special;
  7. The kids might have a separate area where they can be part of the celebration yet not in the way of harmful impressions (drinking and assoc activities); and
  8. The possibilities are enormous here. All key guest perspectives should be considered.

Lateral thinking exercise FIVE (5) suggestions

(You are planning to build a marina on the east coast of Australia.)

  1. A local marine business owner to imagine what would attract his custom;
  2. A local fisherman would like to see a bar for after work at the end of the day;
  3. The local council member would like to have environmental and operational input;
  4. Residents living nearby concerned with noise and traffic;
  5. Yacht owners want a friendly seaward approach for bad weather and first time mooring;
  6. The future manager wants accommodation that oversees everything so he spends less time in the office; and
  7. Maintenancewantst some space in the centre of the marina that offers quick and easy access in case of problems;
  8. Potential investors/buyers of marina berths could be given the opportunity of contributing early to secure strong interest.

Lateral thinking exercise SIX (6) suggestions

(You have a mobile home for sale and you are creating an ad online.)

  1. Those wanting to tour would be motivated by images of the mobile home successfully visiting diverse places of interest;
  2. Elderly think of comforts, safety and security;
  3. Your friends remember good times when they journeyed with you, Use their memories to drive a social media campaign for the sale;
  4. Someone looking for a home to put into a mobile home park would be motivated by things like an annex etc.

Exercises that Challenge Existing Concepts – Answers

This technique is about challenging the status quo. Ask the question “why”? For a more complete understanding of this lateral thinking principle, please go to Lesson 6.

Lateral thinking exercise SEVEN (7) suggestions

(Why do you drive to work?)

  1. Work from home;
  2. Someone else could drive, car sharing;
  3. Public transport;
  4. Get a bicycle and ride;
  5. Walk;
  6. Your work could come to you, an office at home;
  7. Move your office closer to home;
  8. Turn a mobile home into an office;
  9. Buy a small apartment near work for times you just don’t want to drive.

Lateral thinking exercise EIGHT (8) suggestions

(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. A cobbled or bright red to surfaces in known past trouble spots.

Lateral thinking exercise NINE (9) suggestions

(Why do we have wars?)

  1. We could have competitions instead;
  2. We could have champions only fight’
  3. Wars could be made to take place in certain areas;
  4. We could abolish countries and borders;
  5. We could have the world vote to determine the outcome;
  6. Civilians of an attacking nation could object by moving into areas where civilian populations are at risk. Their own country would then be forced to be careful about collateral damage.

Exercises that Escape Dominant Thinking – Answers

This exercise is about reviewing thinking that is dominant usually because something has been successful and worked for a long time. For a more complete understanding of this lateral thinking principle, please go to lesson 7.

Lateral thinking exercise TEN (10) suggestions

(Every year you go to the same holiday spot with your family because it is awesome. All your family looks forward to this vacation all year long.)

  1. Extend the invitation to wider family and friends to holiday near/with you;
  2. Buy a family investment property at the destination;
  3. Move your office to an area nearby so your family can live there;
  4. Consider varying the timing to take advantage of events etc;
  5. Consider trying the same location but different accommodation;
  6. Fly instead of drive.

Lateral thinking exercise ELEVEN (11) suggestions

(Your elderly mother loves to go to the library to catch up with friends, attend interesting talks and events, and catch up on the news.)

  1. Send the kids with her occasionally so that they can learn something and Mum can show off her grandkids;
  2. It is a great opportunity to help Mum get on a computer and manage stuff with kids or you;
  3. Christmas and birthday gifts could become related to what your Mum enjoys at the library;
  4. Attend something with your Mum so that you learn more about her likes, friends, etc;
  5. Let the library know what interests your Mum has so they might create something that pleases her;
  6. Change your routine so you can drop and pick up your Mum from the library.

Lateral thinking exercise TWELVE (12) suggestions

(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.

Exercises that use Creative Combinations – Answers

This technique is the combining of things in ways not previously considered. For a more complete understanding of this lateral thinking principle, please go to lesson 11.

Lateral thinking exercise THIRTEEN (13) suggestions

(The potential things to combine are:

  • Exercise; getting dinner made; getting presents for Xmas; fishing; and your customers waiting for their car to be serviced.)

I told you this one was easy. Waiting rooms at service and repair centers are notoriously BORING. If you’re like me you spend the time on your phone . . . in other words pretty much wasted. But does it have to be? You have a captive audience . . . what could you do with them?

Imagine this! I see a service center filled with opportunity to experience and do stuff. 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 discounted fishing equipment online. It even has a computer handy so you can order your groceries ready to pick up locally.

Basically, the idea is to promote to, and profit from, the downtime people spend in waiting rooms!

I hear what you’re saying, “Aren’t doctors already rich enough?”

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

Lateral thinking exercise FOURTEEN (14) suggestions

(Party; hairdressing; camping; dinner menu; dating; and going to the football game.)

Throw a huge outdoor party at a campsite for singles. The theme of the party is to wear your hair to describe your passion so that you can meet people of similar interests. Green hair = greenie, blue = Democrat, spiked = musical. black ribbon = likes football, yellow hat = loves movies; etc etc

The idea here is that you organize an event wear singles wear their preferences and likes for easy hookups.

Lateral thinking exercise FIFTEEN (15) suggestions

(Alien, lateral thinking; President Kennedy; the Cold War; genocide in Rwanda; UFOs; Qantas; romance; Armageddon; supercomputers; secret oaths; military coverups; Laissez-Faire economics; evolution and religion.)

Roswell’s Final Witness!

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 14 day creative thinking course I have designed for this website. It’s absolutely free, short, and powerful.


Fiction book cover file

This is fiction You will believe, the first novel of the “Lateral thinking investigations . . . of the third kind” series, is nearing completion.

Author, Michael Muxworthy, invites you to stay in touch and follow the progress of this exciting new series.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s