Lateral Thinking Problem Solving
From this entry point, it was obvious that providing every new building with car park would only increase the problem by encouraging people to go by car to work. Seems very obvious, but it takes at least a small amount of creativity. Find a way to eliminate, reduce or prevent (Street parked cars), under the condition of (Traffic moving in and out of city). De Bono suggests to list up to 5 alternatives (more than 5 will often be discouraging) in which we look at the situation in a different way.If the city planners had been using the problem formulator at least they would have been able to establish the above graph. This is his technique of “Quota of alternatives”, The problems will be discussed and followed, and they may lead to new approaches.The formulator is not shy and will suggest event the most provocative alternatives that very few would have dared to suggest even in a brain storming session!De Bono uses the following example to demonstrate the technique of “Quota of alternatives”: “Consider the problem of a business which requires highly trained operators (for instance telephone operators).Using the Problem Formulator, this comes automatically.Triz always includes at least one useful effect and one harmful effect (problem) in the link. Quota of Alternatives The natural search for alternatives is directed to finding the best approach.Lateral thinking forces us away from patterns that have deep grooves in all of us, and we all know that such behavioral grooves are very difficult to get out of.Ideation’s Problem Formulator, a technique that was added to TRIZ to help develop a clear view of the exact nature of the problem that must be solved, can help us here.
Lateral thinking is not specifically concerned with problem analysis, nor is it concerned with proving an idea to be inadequate.
It is remarkable to see the clear connection between the suggestions coming out of the Problem Formulator and the suggested solutions from De Bono. De Bono suggests A: Take only trained people, do not train at all.
The Problem Formulator covers them all, but not as specific as De Bono. Find an alternative way to provide (Increasing operator qualifications), which provides or enhances (Highly skilled operators), but doesn’t cause (Operators become attractive to other companies), and doesn’t require (Training of operators). Find a way to enhance (Increasing operator qualifications). Find a way to resolve CONTRADICTION: (Increasing operator qualifications) should be for providing (Highly skilled operators), and should not be for not causing (Operators become attractive to other companies). Find an alternative way to provide (Training of operators), which provides or enhances (Increasing operator qualifications), and doesn’t cause (Operators not working while being trained). (This can be derived from 3) B: Subsidize job training in this field as part of general education having nothing to do with business itself. (This can be derived from 6 and 4) C: Simplify system so that training is not complex and costly (This can be derived from 8) D: negotiate contracts which call for a minimum period of service after training (This can be derived from 17) E: Charge for training by deduction from salary with repayment during service years (This can be derived from 17) F: Provide salary and job structure so that there is no incentive to leave Using Triz-operators will provide guidelines that will lead us into the more specific alternatives.
Having the useful effect into the chain is an improvement relative de Bono’s technique. Find a way to resolve CONTRADICTION: (Going to work) should be for providing (Work is done), and should not be for not causing (Traffic moving in and out of city). Find an alternative way to provide (Work is done), which doesn’t require (Going to work). In lateral thinking, however, one is not looking for the best approach but for other approaches.
A very simple example from the chapter in De Bono’s book is how city planners in London tried to solve the problem of traffic congestion in London by using street parked cars as the only entry point. The emphasis is on novelty and difference, not on suitability.