Random . . . External Stimulus Technique
(Random Entry Points)
Muxy’s lateral thinking definition: A range of strategies to break the shackles of preconceived thinking to facilitate original thinking and recognize alternative pathways
In Lesson 1 we discovered that lateral thinking is much like humor in that it reveals “escape” pathways not immediately recognizable because of our education, training, and experiences.
To find the answer to the joke, (or the previously unseen “escape” alternative) requires looking outside our normal blinkered thinking.
But … how do we break the shackles of our blinkered thinking to reveal these “escape” alternatives?
We use DISRUPTIONS.
Your first DISRUPTIVE lateral thinking technique uses a random input.
Reductions on the roads
Devise an original idea to help reduce the road toll, carbon emissions, and average travel times all with ONE simple innovation.
Let’s generate our first RANDOM STARTING POINT.
Pick up any book, magazine, or newspaper and open it to any random page, then select a keyword from the second paragraph.
The word I found was “magnet”.
How could a magnet be used to achieve these objectives?
- We could fit magnetic swipe cards underneath all vehicles to identify weight, speed, fuel efficiency, braking capacity, typical load, trailers etc.;
- Traffic light intersections scan vehicles to determine the most fuel and time-efficient solutions;
- Warning lights on your dash tell you if you’ll be required to stop and might warn other vehicles if you don’t demonstrate compliance.
Maybe we should update the technology and instead fit all cars with onboard computers that communicate with intersections as they approach to determine the optimum solution.
My final response: SMART INTERSECTIONS THAT COMMUNICATE WITH DRIVERS.
(You’ll note that the outcome has nothing to do with magnets. The Random Starting Point was simply a way of pulling me away from preconceived thinking.)
I’ve introduced Random Starting Points first because of their simplicity. In subsequent lessons, I’ll be introducing you to more “targeted” disruptive techniques.
YOU TRY THIS:
Apply the Random Starting Point you selected to the same problem.
How did you go? Practice will improve your outcomes.
Sink or swim
A sailing boat hits a reef. The Captain is out cold. A hole in the hull about eight inches across is letting in water at an incredible rate that is too much for the bilge pump to handle . . . you’re sinking. What to do?
Let’s generate a RANDOM STARTING POINT.
I reach into my pocket, remove a coin, and toss the coin into the boat’s cabin. (Ha, ha, I actually did this as I sat writing this example from the back deck of my boat).
The coin landed on a discarded “bedsheet” left on the floor.
Maybe I could use a sheet to put over the hole? NO!
Maybe I block the hole using the sheet in combination with something else? Possibly.
(I actually did this. I imagined the boat sinking … felt the urgency … worked through the process calmly)
I raced below to grab the sheet and I saw pillows. Taking two pillows, I wrapped and twisted them very tightly in the bedsheet which produced a spiraled length of the sheet culminating in a bulbous head.
Of course! (Ha, ha, I didn’t jump into the water. Realism only goes so far)
I “imagined” that I jumped into the water, fed the loose sheet through the hole, pushed the tightly wrapped pillows into the hole as best I could, then climbed aboard and pulled the spiraled sheet from inside until the water flow had abated sufficiently for the bilge pumps to handle the load. “IMAGINED!”
Is it the best solution? Possibly not. Probably not. (I actually have no idea).
Lateral thinking doesn’t guarantee the best solutions, but it does promise creative solutions regularly and reliably. Sometimes, it will give you superior solutions, and sometimes it will give you AWESOME solutions.
OK, YOU TRY THIS:
Generate a RANDOM STARTING POINT using a different (more urgent) method. For example, look around and use the first printed noun or verb you see.
Apply it to the problem of the hole in my yacht and see what you come up with.
Lateral thinking uses tools to disrupt blinkered (or preconceived thinking).
Random starting points are a non-targeted disruption.
See real-life examples of RSPs in action HERE
What is creativity?
Click this link to understand exactly what it is that defines lateral thinking