Lateral Thinking

The term Lateral Thinking was coined by Edward De Bono. Bono defines lateral thinking as methods of thinking concerned with changing concepts and perception.

I’d like to give a few examples here which might help you understand better about Lateral Thinking.


A landscape gardener is given instructions to plant four special trees so that each one is exactly the same distance form each of the others. How do you arrange the trees?

The usual procedure is to try and arrange four dots on a piece of paper so that each dot is equidistant from every other dot. The problem seems impossible to solve.

The assumption that the trees are all planted on a level piece of ground. If one challenges this assumption one finds that the trees can indeed be planted in the manned specified. But one tree is planted at the top of a hill and the other three are planted on the sides of a hill. This makes them all equidistant from one another.


This is one of my favorite problems. A man worked in a tall office building. Each morning he got in the lift on the ground floor, pressed the life button to the tenth floor, got out of the lift and walked up to the fifteenth floor. At night he would get into the lift on fifteenth floor and get out again on the ground floor. What was the man up to?

Various explanations are offered. They include:

  • The man wanted exercise.
  • He wanted to talk to someone on the way up from the tenth to the fifteenth floor.
  • He wanted to admire the view as he walked up.
  • He wanted people to think he worked on the tenth floor (it might have been more prestigious) etc.

In fact, the man acted in such a peculiar way because he had no choice. He was a dwarf and could not reach higher than the tenth floor button.

The natural assumption that man is perfectly normal and it his behavior that is abnormal.

This information was extracted from the book “Lateral Thinking” by Edward De Bono.

If you like this information please read the book. It is a very nice book where Sir Bono says that innovativeness and creativity are not by-birth gifts. Thinking can also be practiced. All that is needed is sparing some time for it.


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