Lateral Thinking, Vertical Thinking, Critical Thinking, Parallel Thinking And Six Thinking Hats. What type of A Thinker Are You?

You are driving down the road in your car on a wild, stormy night, when you pass by a bus stop and you see three people waiting for the bus:

1. An old lady who looks as if she is about to die.
2. An old friend who once saved your life.
3. The perfect partner you have been dreaming about.

Knowing that there can only be one passenger in your car, whom would you choose?

Acting on an anonymous phone call, the police raid a house to arrest a suspected murderer. They don’t know what he looks like but they know his name is John and that he is inside the house. The police bust in on a carpenter, a lorry driver, a mechanic and a fireman all playing poker. Without hesitation or communication of any kind, they immediately arrest the fireman. How do they know they’ve got their man?

I guess I have forced you all to put on your thinking hat to answer these questions? But what sort of thinking leads to the right answer? A thinking which is more geared towards critical and indirect approach? Using reasoning that is not immediately obvious and involving ideas that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic a.k.a Lateral Thinking.

For the first question Most of them would either choose one of the three but more of the humanitarians would choose the Old lady but the Lateral thinker comes with a solution where he not only chooses the Old Lady but also makes way for the other two options. How? He asks the Old Lady to get into the car however asks his best friend to take her to the hospital after handing over the car keys and spend time with his partner until his friend comes back. Now the answer to the second question is much simpler why? Because only the fireman is a Man and the rest are Women.

So to get to an answer to both these puzzles or trick questions we arrived at the most appropriate answer by searching for alternatives and attacking the problem from all angles; if you master this art you are on your way to be a good Lateral Thinker!

Now say one fine day after a good work out at a gym you get back home and looking forward to a nice bath; and realize the shower is not working what do you do? You possibly rely on your experience and see if there is a notice in the building about no water supply; if there is none open the shower cap and see if there is any problem with the shower cap assuming you have some plumbing knowledge or call the Plumber himself. This kind of solution is the result of processing known theories, knowledge and experience on fixing a shower cap. Therefore, this group of solutions are generated from vertical thinking. Vertical Thinking is always a slam dunk scenario as there is no out of the box thinking here and is often used on known problems.

Do you take for granted the Information which is dished out to you without a thought? If you do I am afraid you are not much of a critical thinker.
Critical thinking means making reasoned judgments that are logical and well thought out. It is a way of thinking in which you don’t simply accept all arguments and conclusions you are exposed to but rather have an attitude involving questioning such arguments and conclusions. It requires wanting to see what evidence is involved to support a particular argument or conclusion. People who use critical thinking are the ones who say things such as, ‘How do you know that? Is this conclusion based on evidence or gut feelings?’ and ‘Are there alternative possibilities when given new pieces of information?

Additionally, critical thinking can be divided into the following three core skills. Curiosity is the desire to learn more information and seek evidence as well as being open to new ideas. Skepticism involves having a healthy questioning attitude about new information that you are exposed to and not blindly believing everything everyone tells you. Finally, humility is the ability to admit that your opinions and ideas are wrong when faced with new convincing evidence that states otherwise.


Lateral, Critical or Vertical whichever way you think are the different ways you can challenge your brain to think. But say you are working as a part of a group to identify solutions to a problem what type of thinking should a group adopt? As I broaden the horizons on this discussion I introduce the much talked about six thinking Hats a concept promoted by Edward de Bono which promotes Parallel thinking in a Group.

Dr. Edward de Bono introduced a simple, but powerful technique called the Six Thinking Hats. The technique outlines different thinking styles that are associated with a different colored hat. This parallel thinking approach forces each of the participants in a team meeting or focus group to adopt the particular thinking style represented by each colored hat. By conceptualizing each type of hat, the person focuses on the style of thinking associated with each color. For example, when wearing the RED hat a person will state what he or she feels about a particular situation. Wearing the YELLOW hat compels people to think about the positive aspects of a topic or situation, while the GREEN hat encourages people to adopt a creative thinking focus. The Six Thinking Hats encourage even the most pessimistic or negative people to think of the positive outcomes of a given situation.

So please take a minute and think what type of a thinker you are ?

Published by


RS is a deep thinker. His hobby is to analyze and reanalyze. Out of a passion to analyze he started this blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>