Dr Edward DeBono popularised lateral thinking.
And, yes, some fortunate individuals have a propensity for it and others can train themselves to embrace it.
Isolated in the Rockies or on a desert island, yes very useful.
But in the real world, given a suitably diverse group of people, lateral thinking is almost guaranteed!
DeBono was just perpetuating the rugged individual, male dominant, competitive drive old school and old “schools” approach to the world. You must solve this problem on your own! (Sharing ideas and work at schools was for so long considered cheating!!!)
On the domestic front, we have spouse, friends, neighbours, relatives – talk to them!
At work, workshops and discussion groups.
I clarified my thinking on this whilst discussing the validity of QA/Test involvement in ALL aspects of the life cycle. In response to the question “What input can QA/Test have to design workshops when they don’t have the technical knowledge?”
My answer, “why, to ask dumb questions!”.
Re: Lateral Thinking......
I don't think DeBono was saying you 'must solve this problem on your own', he was just trying to get people to think differently when approaching problem solving. Groups are comprised of individuals and if each of these has well developed problem solving skills, then wouldn't you expect the group to perform better? I agree that a tester has a valuable contribution to make in a design workshop without necessarily having specialist technical knowledge and yes "asking dumb questions" is part of that, but I don't see how this relates to a devaluation of lateral thought. If anything, isn't a 'dumb question' an example of the expression of a lateral thought? By asking the dumb question (assuming it's not just stupid), aren't you getting the technical team to think differently (maybe laterally) about what they are doing? 'Lateral thinking' is an archaic phrase these days, but I think the principal of developing your problem solving skills as an individual is still sound.