Monday, May 02, 2005

Horizontal and Vertical Thinking at ZenPundit

Check out an interesting discussion of Horizontal and Vertical Thinking at ZenPundit. There mark asks the interesting question, can we do anything to improve our frequency of learning by 'insight'?

Among the highest level creative thinkers, both horizontal and vertical types of thinking appear to be working together to get the job done. Pure vertical thinking may fail by not casting the net wide enough, while pure horizontal thinking may fail by not selecting the best match.

Intuitive thinking is somewhat mysterious because most of it seems to be below the level of conscious thought, but we think it can be fostered and cultivated, though with different approaches than conscious deductive or analytical thought.

Interestingly, mark's post mentions Edward De Bono. At least in our elementary understanding of De Bono's work, we did not view his Lateral (or Horizontal? ) approach to thinking as being Intuitive - rather it seemed to be a rigorous Conscious or Cognitive approach to generating Horizontal data.

That's not exactly what biographies suggest the Intuitive process is like for some thinkers - nor in our intuitive experiences as well. What we'd like to think about more in future posts is how Intuitive or Insight-Based approaches to problem solving can be enriched or improved. There's quite a lot of autobiographical and biographical material on this subject.


  1. Thanks for the link ! Much appreciated !

    I agree with your characterization of De Bono's methodology, it is systematic and conscious.

    I think that De Bono's thinking strategy complements intuitive thinking where people are recognizing possible patterns or imagining such possibilities across domains.

    It may be possible that regularly engaging in the former exercises will make you better at intuitively thinking horizontally as well. Or it might not but it sounds like a fruitful area to investigate in a clinical setting - has this been done ?

  2. It certainly is complementary. We don't know if it's been studied clinically - but it might be that clinically-based studies aren't the best ways to study this anyway.

    De Bono's intuitive hat is probably too vague "follow your gut feeling" - at least from what we know of it. It is clearly not the emphasis of his work, and I think it's fair to say his approach is distinctly non-intuitive or insight-related.