Sunday, April 6, 2008

On Lateral Thinking

What is Lateral Thinking?
As I understand it: Lateral Thinking is the re-patterning of existing knowledge.

How is it different from Vertical Thinking?
Vertical thinking explores the existing pattern.

Can you give me an example?
If gold was buried in the ground and I was to dig it out. I would first find the spot to dig: the pattern. I would then dig at that spot: vertical thinking. If I did not find gold till 20 feet what would I do if I continued to use vertical thinking? I would dig deeper at the same spot. And Lateral thinking? I would dig at a different spot.

Golden Rule: Lateral thinking (or re-patterning) is useless without further vertical thinking. So it cannot stand on its own.

How do I use Lateral Thinking in my life?
Among the uses the few I can think of right now are:

1)Re-patterning relationships

2)Re-patterning world view – change in assumptions of how the world works Eg. Parents can be wrong, childhood mentors can be wrong.

3)Re-patterning ‘moments’ in memory

4)Re-patterning beliefs – Strongly held belief in god, moving to confusion because of an attempt to find a proof of God through scientific means, to belief again based on view that scientific tools come with limitations of human ability while the answer to the ‘beginning of all things’ holds the key to the solution.

5)Re-patterning values – talking to girls is not a bad thing, it’s an ordinary thing, that could also be a beautiful thing


An example of “Re-patterning moments in memory”:

I remember this moment when I was in class 7. The teacher asked the class a question: the name of a certain person of accomplishment. I rattled my brain, “hmmm, maybe I know this one. I am smart”. Out came a name from nowhere: “ABC” (I don’t remember what name it was). Just then the brightest guy in class took the same name and that name rung a bell with the teacher as well. It was the name she was looking for and couldn’t remember.

I always used to think of that moment and revel in the thought of how my subconscious seemed to have the answer that my conscious mind was having trouble recalling and how out of the back of my mind the right answer just came forth.

I used to use this as an example of how the knowledge that you acquire doesn’t get wasted. If anything it gets stored in the subconscious, and thus the fascinating amount of knowledge one actually holds in their subconscious.

The moment is fresh in my mind still.

A couple of years ago this thought occurred to me again. This time it got re-patterned. It hit me that it was quite possible that the name I took was not the right answer. That the smart guy who also had the impression that I was smart, heard me take the name, and took it too (I was sitting close to him. He could have heard me though not the teacher). The teacher who was a class 7 teacher, young and inexperienced maybe, though probably not sure herself thought it to be the answer, coming from the smartest guy in the class.

So it is quite possible that the name I took, that the smart kid took, that the teacher confirmed was not at all the right name.

Since then that moment stands re-patterned.

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