When trying to solve a problem, it is very important to consider alternate solutions instead of moving forward with the first idea. Picking one idea and proceeding until a solution is reached is called vertical thinking and this is the type of thinking that is most often used by 99% people worldwide.
When thinking laterally, you continue to generate ideas even after a promising idea has been produced. A vertical thinker must always be moving usefully in some direction and must be correct at every step.
1. A lateral thinker can wander in different directions to find creative solutions and often may be wrong in order to be right in the end. Lateral thinkers welcome and explore seemingly irrelevant facts or ideas, whereas vertical thinkers shut out all irrelevant data.
2. Vertical thinking is analytical, lateral thinking is provocative.
3. With vertical thinking one has to be correct at every step, with lateral thinking one does not have to be.
4. Vertical thinking is sequential, lateral thinking can make jumps.
5. With vertical thinking one uses the negative in order to block of certainty. With lateral thinking there is no negative.
6. With vertical thinking on concentrates and excludes what is irrelevant, with lateral thinking one welcomes chance intrusions.
7. With vertical thinking categories, classifications and labels are fixed, with lateral thinking they are not.
8. Vertical thinking follows the most likely path; lateral thinking explores the least likely.
9. Vertical thinking is a finite process; lateral thinking is a probabilistic one.