Vertical thinking refers to solving a problem by analysis. It focuses on the known and correct method to address a particular problem. Consequently, it helps you save time, money and energy; and you can get the results you want by hitting the bull’s eye. This approach may be the right one if you’re operating under tight budgets.
Better solutions and creative processes can be discovered only when you break out of your comfort zone of knowledge. Lateral thinking does just that. It attempts to break traditional notions which develop vertical or conditional thinking. Conditional thinking fails you in exploring the other possibilities or probably the best ideas.
Structured Vs. Restructured:
Vertical thinking encourages a sequential approach. There is a structured approach which you follow to redress a problem. You make decisions on the basis of the available knowledge base which you attempt to extend. On the other hand, lateral thinking attempts at restructuring the set pattern. By disorienting and restructuring the set pattern, it arrives at a new insight or a new approach to the organizational problem. Lateral thinkers believe that what is the best idea now can be out of fashion tomorrow. This attitude leads to the generation of new perspectives and ideas.
Logical Vs. Illogical:
Vertical thinking takes a logical approach. In fact, its methods have already proven to give the desired results. However, with lateral thinking, this is different. It seeks to approach a problem through ostensibly illogical methods. This does not mean lateral thinkers make illogical decisions. They combine both reasoning and imagination to arrive at the most suitable solution. They use critical and creative thinking skills to reach the desired outcome. Nevertheless, they do not believe this is the best solution forever. That is, in my view, the crux of lateral thinking.
I think vertical thinking deprives you of novelty, which is essential to find and apply to innovative processes in business management. It does not help generate any new ideas since it looks for a finite approach to a problem. So, there is little chance for experimentation and deviation from the right course. Though, vertical thinking helps you use details at every step. If information is not available, no further course of action can be taken. Therefore, I do not think one can solely depend on this problem solving approach, especially if the problem looks intractable.
Even when you are 100 percent sure that vertical thinking can help you solve a problem, you must not forget that you are closing the doors for better solutions. It always pays to have more alternatives to a problem than just one, so that you can choose the best and most creative approach. This is possible through lateral thinking. Lateral or creative thinking need not put any weight on your exchequer. These skills can be cultivated through proper training.
Do share your thoughts on the same.