2 Activities to Develop Lateral Thinking

Lateral Thinking

Creativity or lateral thinking are the skills which are fast becoming one of the most important skills to grow and succeed in life. The skill is not only required by artists and authors of fictional stories but these are required in every field.

Also Read How to Develop Creativity?

The ability to think differently, to think out of the box, to find multiple solutions to a problem is essential in any field and in any role.

Luckily, these skills can be developed and honed by practice. Today, I will be talking about 2 activities that can be done to sharpen our lateral thinking. These have been proposed by masters of lateral thinking like Edward de Bono and proven to be successful both for children and adults.

1. Picture Story

This activity requires a picture. You can take a picture out of a book, a children’s book, a newspaper or a magazine.

The task for each player is simple. Think of 3 different things that could be happening in the picture.

For example, in above picture one could interpret it as follows:

  1. The girl is holding the hand of her husband/boyfriend who is taking her to see a surprise he has planned for her.
  2. The man is pulling her forward, against her will. She is crying and doesn’t want to go.
  3. 2 friends are going on a fun adventure and enjoying every bit of it.

Note: Try to take a picture where the obvious interpretation is not very dominant. If it is, just cover part of the picture so that obvious theme doesn’t scream out too loudly.

Also Read Other Creativity Building Games- Fastest Sketcher First

Also Read Other Creativity Building Games-Spiralling Stories

2. Story Interpretation

Take any story. Each player is given a different character in the story. They then have to interpret the story based on what this character would think. The character can be one of the side characters, can even be an onlooker. The idea is to generate different points of view of the people involved.

For example: There is a story about a parrot which escaped from its cage and flew off.

Parrot’s perspective: Ah, to be free, to be able to fly. I’m hungry. I wonder where can I get something to eat. Can’t see any plate with nuts around.

Owner’s perspective: Will the parrot be safe? I hope no predator kills it. It’s his lunch time and it must be hungry. I hope he comes back safe and sound.

Onlooker’s perspective: Its good that the caged bird has flown off. Birds should never be put in a cage.

Parrot shopkeeper’s perspective: Its good. They might want to but another parrot. Perhaps I can induce them to buy a pair this time saying that the previous parrot flew off because of loneliness.

It’s a simple one sentence story – that a parrot flew away from a cage. However, all the people have different perspectives on the that incident.

Both of these activities help in developing lateral thinking. They help us see beyond the obvious and think of multiple scenarios and multiple perspectives to the same incident. Apart from this, these are great fun.

Do try these out and let me know what you think.

7 thoughts

  1. This has truly just opened my eyes!!! I’d never even heard of this before – how brilliant for those struggling with creativity


  2. Excellent lateral thinking focused on a younger audience. I love that. The story approach you have examples i

    The “alternative perspectives” example I sometimes use is the police detective who turns up at a rural warehouse fire. Everything is burnt to the ground. A safe that had a lot of cash has been forced open. There is no other evidence or witnesses. Does the investigation stop there? The detective discovers all sorts of motivations and opportunities through the consideration of alternative perspectives.

    Another is the old man being lectured by his grandson about his overzealous atheist beliefs. An observer steps in when things get heated and uses the imagined alternative perspective of God to settle the argument. “Imagine YOU are God. How do YOU explain the existence of evolution?” The young man commits himself fully to the role … “If God did exist … evolution would be part of His design”. Both sides of the argument saw something they hadn’t seen before.

    I’d like to quote you about your excellent examples on http://michaelmuxworthy.com/lateral-thinking-everyday-examples/

    Would that be ok? I very rarely come across truly excellent and well thought out strategies to showcase the use of lateral thinking and these are worth repeating.

    All the best,
    Michael Muxworthy


    1. Thank you Michael. It is great to know that you liked it. It is perfectly ok to quote me.
      The examples that you have given are quite interesting. I am sure to use them with some children next time I play this game.


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