Lateral Thinking

The Creative Mind

About this Activity

Thinking Outside the Box

“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” (Adapted from a poem by Robert Burns). We all encounter situations in life when things don’t go to plan. No matter how carefully a project is thought through, things tend to go wrong at times.

Sometimes we need to look outside the box to find a solution to a problem or something that doesn’t work. This is when Lateral Thinking can be useful.

Collins dictionary defines lateral thinking as “a method of solving problems by using your imagination to help you think of solutions that are not obvious at first.” or “ A way of solving problems by rejecting traditional methods and employing unorthodox and apparently illogical means.”

A good way to train your brain to think laterally is to take an everyday object and think of new uses for it. The most well-known example of this is “The Brick.” What can you use it for? Here are a few examples of different uses. Can you think of more?

  • Use the brick as a model and draw the details. Good drawing practice.
  • Use it to elevate flowerpots to different heights to create a nice garden display.
  • Make it a doorstopper.
  • Tell people it is a magic brick and sell it.
  • Paint it and use it as a bookend.
  • Or a paperweight.

Thinking laterally is particularly useful in the care sector when you encounter people who may not eat or drink enough, have dementia or confusion, or other issues. Coming up with creative solutions becomes a daily challenge.

Brainstorming (discussing with other people) to come up with ideas is often useful. One person’s way of an idea can lead to another and so on.

I challenge you to come up with a novel idea for something this week. It may be a creative solution to a problem or a new use for an everyday object. It is good brain exercise and quite fun!

Maria Brady

Activity Coordinator & CQO at Maria’s Place