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April 18, 2021

Ask just about any leader to offer you a set of best practices they use in their company and they probably can do it. The trouble is, best practices tend to fit the often-quoted definition of insanity — you want , but you just keep doing the same thing over and over based on your set of standards, all while expecting a different result. If you really want to create something unique, lateral thinking is a far better bet.


What Is Lateral Thinking?

Lateral thinking simply means finding solutions with unconventional logic or reasoning that might not be easy to see initially. It’s what people mean when they say they want you to think “out of the box” and it’s invaluable. It can encourage you to take needed risks, embrace change and improve the  of your organization.


Lateral Thinking at Work

My company is a good example of how lateral thinking can boost a business in the real world. Our team decided together that we were going to move away from the traditional organizational structure (i.e., distinct marketing, sales, development, etc.). The alternative was to organize everything around different channels or streams of business. We broke apart what normally gets centralized and put everybody in new business units or product lines.

Decentralizing like this in favor of business streams did have a financial cost. In fact, it was hard to get our board to go along with the idea initially, because doing so required us to duplicate some resources.