Lateral thinking is a technique that can be hard to use deliberately. These top tips will help you work on improving your lateral thinking.
USE ALL OF YOUR SENSES
You can use all of your senses to gain inspiration from what is around you. Look at colours and shapes near to you. Listen for what sounds you are hearing. Try and make a link in your mind from these items to your particular problem you want to solve. It may help to take your thoughts in new directions.
RANDOM IDEA GENERATION
Lateral thinking is about not going the obvious route, so sometimes it can help to have a random element thrown into your thinking. You can use a dictionary or any book for this, turn to a random page, pick a word and make the connection from that word to your issue, however weak the link.
Compare your problem or issue to something that people are familiar with. That might be something in the natural world, like a mountain or river, or something man-made; it could be a legend or a story or even an animal. It is about trying to help you see your issue from a different viewpoint.
BREAKDOWN THE ISSUE
Break your issue down into smaller steps. So if you are worried about your sales process, start to think about the individual small steps involved when you first interact with your customer – how do they find you, what are they looking for, what is their first interaction with you generally?
WRITE A STORY
Try writing a short sentence (5-7 words) defining your problem. Include images if you want to inspire imagination.
Try making a list of the keywords connected to your issue. Then brainstorm the issue but limit yourself to not using these words. By trying to use different words, you may come up with different solutions.
You can use the mind map tool to consider an issue from all angles.
WHAT WOULD ______ DO?
Think about the issue from someone else’s perspective. What would Donald Trump do? What about Mother Theresa? What would your parents do, your boss, your competitor?
Consider what the standard approach might be and then consider doing the opposite. What would be the impact, is there any benefit to it? While doing the opposite completely may not work, there might be elements that help you come up with new ideas.
Having done some or all of the above, carry out a free flow writing exercise. Start writing and don’t stop until you hit a limit. It might be 500 words; it might be 5 minutes. It doesn’t have to make complete sense, but it does have to be continuous. Sometimes interesting ideas come from the subconscious in this exercise!