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.