Your creative mind is a lateral processor

Your innovation method/system is linear

This just can't produce disruptive results

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Lateral Ideation – the creative way to manage innovation

Let’s work the way our brain is working

Lateral Ideation

Linear ideation is a step by step process: first, do this, then that, then something else. Of course, because all business processes are linear – for over 1,000 years. It is the easiest to explain, the easiest to remember, and most importantly the easiest to repeat. Most jobs are repeat jobs – even the more complex science tasks, engineering, and even industrial design. But the more creativity for more unique outputs are is required, the less those linear processes work.

What is really lateral then?

While linear is “step by step” in one line, maybe some iterations, lateral is going back and forth, up and down, right and left. The lateral thoughts touch lots of experiences in ultra-high speed. There is an act of weighting between multiple experiences, risk analysis, envisioning, and back into other options, analogies, unrelated experiences. Some people think by experimenting, others do it purely intellectual. Both have advantages and a combination is in many cases the best of two worlds.

In any case normal intelligent people, in particular, when they think in teams and in the best case of highly diverse backgrounds can come to sensational ideas in a relatively short period of time. Not seconds or hours but a few weeks. This is one reason why brainstorming never sparked groundbreaking innovation. Read more under “Neuro Ideation”.

Comparing the high-speed back and forth in many ideation sessions with ideation which is a short step in an innovation process, Nobody should expect any major outcome. Just a few years ago that knowledge was just not available. And today we are one of the first to apply this in the innovation process.

Education that blows your mind

To learn more about Lateral Ideation, Neuro Ideation, Deep Innovation Design, and how neuroscience influences innovation processes such as Innovation opportunity discovery, ideation, innovation validation, or innovation-to-market: Join the Deep Innovation Design Training Program.

Comparing Lateral with Linear Ideation
There are roughly 100 innovation and ideation methods. ALL are linear, step by step, because that is how we explain business processes and eventually landed at a point where nonlinear processes have been not even looked at. Too complicated for average Joe. Really?

Kids between the age of 3 to 6 are highly creative. Their brain fires faster than they can speak and faster than they can even handle their thoughts. The most modern parts of the brain are faster than the older brain functions that move mouths and eyes. We are all – without exception – creative, innovative and our most precious asset is our creativity. 

Lateral thinking is the gold standard of brain functionality. We simply did not know when we began to consciously and strategically innovate.

1) Brainstorming

Brainstorming is the conventional starting point for innovation but typically generates the most ‘obvious’ ideas.  Traditional brainstorming is about 30-60 min. one or a few ideas are selected and on it goes. “Post brainstorm ideas” get cut off and that is the end of the ideation process. It is a small step in a much longer “process”. Even worst, the post brainstorming ideas get better but are suppressed by the “process”

2) Lateral Ideation

Neuroscience research opened some very interesting doors and windows. Creative minds are considered crazy, chaotic and so seem to be their way of coming up with amazing ideas. Indeed, if we are trained to be logical, linear, step by step, sequential, and so forth, chaos is not part of the mix. But replacing crazy, chaotic, unorganized with laterally, we find a rather natural flow. And for is a key. Rivers are neither crazy nor chaotic, their natural flow is determined by all kinds of things. And so is the flow of ideas. 

The ultimate disruptive innovation comes from deep down in the brain. The flow to the surface is anything but linear. And to get it to rise to completion requires a visit to millions of brain cells – AND THAT PATH IS LATERAL.

Learning, Negotiation, Fighting, Creating…

These are all literal processes. Content dissemination can be done linearly, but the process of learning is lateral. Maybe one reason why we have still no learning machine because everything machine-related we build linearly. Negotiation is a short and intense act where our brain can show performance excellence. Because lateral is its top domain. The same is true for fighting, painting, composing music, and more. The better we understand how our brain behaves the more we can work with it. Innovation and in particular ideation, and innovation execution cannot win when using a linear path, method, or tool, but get to amazing performance when switching to lateral.