Personal Growth

Lateral Thinking: 26 Effective Exercises to Practice it

The lateral thinking reflects a way of solving problems and try to find alternatives and creative solutions, indirectly, trying not to fall into the most obvious and immediate options.

 It moves away from vertical logic, which is the traditional method to solve problems (step by step, following the available data). Nor is identified with the so-called “horizontal” thinking, which is about having many ideas, but not knowing how to detail them to put them in motion. Dr. Edward de Bono was first described in 1967.

For Edward de Bono, there are very intelligent people because they have accumulated a lot of knowledge. However, there are others who have a medium intelligence but have extraordinary thinking strategies that lead to success. This is lateral thinking.

In short, it is a habit of thought that is excellent for analyzing conflicts, solving them and increasing motivation.

In fact, more and more companies value that their workers put lateral thinking into practice, and they are even beginning to evaluate it in job interviews.

In addition, lateral thinking can be trained through multiple exercises. Some of them can be a real challenge if you are not used to seeing things from a different perspective. You dare?

The lateral thinking exercises that I will explain below will help you train your creativity, ingenuity, and ability to innovate.

26 Lateral Thinking Exercises

Edward de Bono describes the “techniques of provocation” to learn to think creatively about anything you propose. To do this, you have to start by visualizing the subject as if it were the first time and recognizing what information you are taking for granted.

During the process you must answer two questions:

a) What preconceived information do I have about a certain topic?

b) What ideas do I come up with to achieve my goal or solve the problem, that is novel?

eye! Do not be afraid to let your imagination fly, even seemingly outlandish ideas can activate your most creative self.

1- Generation of random relationships

Choose a random object or a noun, and try to associate it with the subject you are dealing with at that moment or the problem you want to solve.

To make it easier to choose the word, you can use a dictionary. Write down all the relationships you can think of, no matter how strange they are!

2- Challenge of ideas: the why of things

Start using “why?” But in a comprehensive, open and instructive way. The goal is to challenge any idea. The more established it is in our mind, the better. Remember that you should avoid obvious and typical explanations.

An example would be to ask the following question: “why do cups of coffee carry handles?” The most obvious answer would be: “so as not to burn us.”

However, we can question this fact: “Yes, but the cups could have independent handles for each finger, or two handles on each side. Or, why should the coffee be hot? ”

Try to ask yourself these questions with phenomena around you and try to find alternative and ingenious ideas. I leave you some questions for you to practice:

  • Why do colors exist?
  • Why are keyboard keys organized in this way?
  • Why do shirts have buttons?
  • Why are televisions rectangular?

After these exercises, it will surely be easier for you to solve these riddles that I add below:

Ingenious questions and riddles

3- The bottle of wine

Imagine a bottle of wine, half filled and corked with a cork. How could you drink wine without removing the cork or breaking the bottle?

4- The crystal cleaner

The boy who cleaned the windows in a skyscraper was on the 25th floor when he slipped and fell. He wore no safety harness and nothing slowed his fall. However, he had no injuries, how do you explain it?

5- The dead in the meadow

They find a dead man in a meadow. There is a closed package near you, and there is no other person, animal, or any being in that place. How he died?

6- The three rooms

You have to choose between three rooms:

choose any of three rooms

a) In the first, there is a fire.

b) The second one is full of tigers that have not eaten in 3 months.

c) And the third one is full of assassins with loaded machine guns.

Which room would you choose?

7- The abandoned house

Imagine that you are alone, at night, in an abandoned house. There you find an oil lamp, a candle and firewood; but you only have one match. What would you light first?

8- The sponge cake

Using only a straight cut, how would you cut a rectangular cake in two equal parts when you had previously cut a rectangular piece?

9- The man on the tenth floor

A man lives on the tenth floor of a building. Every day take the elevator from your house to the ground floor to leave. When he returns, he climbs the elevator and presses the seventh floor. Then go up the stairs to the tenth floor. Why do this?

10- The cat

What part of the cat has more hair?

11- Coffee

This morning I dropped an earring in the cafe. And although the cup was full, the earring did not get wet. How could it be?

12- The race

During a race, you overtake the second runner. In what position are you?

13- The war

In the First World War, the soldiers had to wear a brown cloth cap. Soon, the military authorities began to be alarmed by a large number of wounded in the head. For this reason, they made the decision to replace the cap with metal helmets. However, the incidence of injuries to the head increased.

In addition, the intensity of the war did not change, it was the same as before. Why do you think the number of wounded in the head increased after implanting the metal cases instead of the caps?

14- The hungry dog

A dog is tied by the neck to a rope 2 meters long. How can it reach a bone that is 4 meters away from it?

15- The days

Name three consecutive days without using the words “Tuesday,” “Thursday,” or “Saturday.”

16- The 20-story building

How can a person fall from a twenty-story building and survive? It does not matter what falls, nor does it have any relation to luck.

17- The bear

A man built a rectangular house, and each side faces south. He saw a bear, what color was this?

18- Join the points

Join the 9 points using four straight lines or less without lifting the pencil from the paper, or drawing the same line more than once. You can print the image to make it easier.


19- The armed waiter

A man enters a bar and asks the waiter for a glass of water. The waiter crouches looking for something. At once he takes out a weapon and points the man with it. He pauses, before saying “thank you” and leaves. What happened?

20- World record

In 1930, two men traveled in a Ford car from New York to Los Angeles, a 5,375-kilometer trip that lasted 18 days.

It was not the fastest or slowest trip or the first one to be made. The car was normal, as were the roads and drivers. However, these men broke a world record thanks to this route. Why?

21- The old woman, the friend and the couple

One night of a heavy storm, you are driving through the city when you see three people at a bus stop:

– An old friend who saved your life.
– An old woman who seems about to die.
– The perfect couple you’ve always wanted to meet.
You can only choose a passenger. Who would you ride in your car?

22- The murderous firefighter

Attending an anonymous call, the police enter a house to arrest a supposed murderer. They do not know his appearance, they only know that his name is John and that he is inside the house.

In the house they find four people: one works in carpentry, another drives a truck, the other works in a mechanical workshop and the last one in the fire station.

Without asking any questions and without hesitation for a moment, they immediately arrest the firefighter. How did they know that he was the culprit if they only knew his name and his profession?

23- Driving license

A lady left her driving license at home. He did not stop at the pedestrian crossing, ignored the forbidden direction sign and traveled three streets in the opposite direction on a one-way street. A traffic agent saw all this and did not react. Why?

24- The eggs

There are 6 eggs in one basket. 6 people take an egg each. How can an egg still be in the basket?

25- The stranger in the bed

For work reasons, Mr. González traveled abroad and returned home 2 months later. When he entered his house, he found his wife sharing a bed with a stranger. For this reason, Mr. González was very happy, how do you explain it?

26- The teacup

A man was drinking a cup of tea when suddenly, he went blind. What happened?

27- Sell the truth

One manufacturer claimed that if middle-aged people told the truth more often, he would sell many more products. What did it make?

28- The suitcase

Pedro went to a baggage store to buy a suitcase. The clerk said: “It is very strange that customers buy suitcases. Why don’t you rent it? “Why did he say this?

29- The movie

Tom and Joe went to see a movie. There were many other people there. During a quiet scene, Tom pulled out a gun. Joe yelled, “Do not shoot!”, But Tom shot him.

When Tom tried to leave the cinema, the spectators held him back. The police were there and did not capture him. Why?


3. The wine bottle: Sinking the cork into the bottle.
4. The glass cleaner: I was cleaning the windows inside the building.
5. The dead man in the meadow: The man jumped from an airplane because he was going to crash. The closed package that was near him was the parachute, which did not work.
6. The three rooms: The second room. If the Tigers have not eaten in three months, they will be dead.
7. The abandoned house: The match.
8. The sponge cake: You cut the cake horizontally, halfway up (parallel to the top).
9. The man on the tenth floor: The man is a dwarf, and his height allows him to press the button on the ground floor, while the button on the seventh floor is the maximum he reaches.
10. The cat: The outside is the part of the cat that has more hair.
11. Coffee: We tend to think that the coffee must be liquid, but it could really be in grain or powder, that’s why the earring did not get wet!
12. The race: If you overtake the second person, then you are the second person.
13. War: It is not the same to have a head injury than to die. With the cloth cap, if a soldier was shot in the head he probably died, very few survived with a head wound. However, with the metal helmet, the head wounds increased, but the death register decreased.
14. The hungry dog: Running, since, the rope that was tied to the neck is not tied to any place.
15. The days: Yesterday, today and tomorrow.
16. The 20-story building: it can survive if it falls from the first floor.
17. The bear: The bear was white since only in the North Pole the four walls can be oriented towards the south.
18. Join the points:

join the dots solution

19. The armed waiter: The gentleman came to the bar asking for a glass of water to fix his hiccups. The waiter chose to give him a scare by pretending he was going to shoot him to get rid of his hiccups. Finally, he got it, so he said “thank you” and left without having to drink the glass of water.
20. World record: Beat the record because they made the whole trip back. Those men were Charles Creighton and James Hargis.
21. The old woman, the friend and the couple: You can take the old woman to the hospital, or choose to take your friend to return the favor. But you probably would not find the person you like again.
What is the best answer? Give your car keys to your friend to take the old woman to the hospital, and stay waiting for the bus with the person of your dreams.
22. The murderous firefighter: They knew because all the other people in the room were women.
23. The driving license: He did not react because the lady was walking.
24. The eggs: There is still an egg because the sixth person took it inside the basket.
25. The stranger in bed: The stranger in the bed is about his son, a newborn baby.
26. The teacup: the man had left the spoon in the cup when he drank, and it hit him in the eye, leaving him temporarily blind.
27: Sell the truth: I made candles for birthday cakes.
28. The suitcase: Pedro was in the western part of Tokyo. There the houses are very small, and normally people try to save space as much as possible. One way to do this is to rent large items that will be used occasionally, such as suitcases.
29. The movie: Tom and Joe were the protagonists of the movie. Tom shot Joe in a scene from the movie. When Tom left the cinema, people kept him because they were fans asking him for autographs.

These riddles can have other ingenious solutions that are valid, what do you think? Leave your comment!

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