The School of Good Ideas #6: Lateral and Linear Thinking

Do you know the difference between lateral and linear thinking?

Scientists have identified two distinct ways our brains think: Lateral Thinking and Linear Thinking.

Lateral thinking helps to solve problems through indirect and creative approaches, working your mind to identify reasoning that may not be immediately obvious. Brainstorming and open-ended questions can help to encourage lateral thinking.

Linear thinking, however, follows known cycles or step-by-step procedures proven to work before. This type of thinking is based on logic, rules, and rationality. Think "A follows B" or "if x = y and y = z, then z = x".

You use both of these types of thinking, no matter your age, profession, gender, or any other factors. There is no right or wrong way to think, but you need to work both types of thinking when you're solving challenges!

Here are some activities that can broaden and strengthen your Linear thinking:

Play chess.

Solve Sudoku puzzles.

Make lists, analyse your work, and break it down into smaller tasks.

Study mathematics - one of the most literal examples of linear thinking.

And here are some ways to develop your Lateral thinking:

Solve crossword puzzles.

Play Dingbats (a word trivia game) and look at Word of the Day apps and websites.

Ask more provocative questions - think "what if?..."

Take a different route to work one day.

Talk to random people on your commute - how can you find new ways to connect?

Do you have any ideas on how to develop these thinking styles? Follow us on Instagram to learn more about how you can put your mind to work in challenges!