Weekend innovation tip: 6 Lateral thinking techniques

As we age, we humans tend to follow familiar patterns of thinking. Using the same method that worked is useful but it has huge disadvantages when trying to create new products or services.

We have a tendency to think in a linear way, following logic, adding incremental improvements to the product or service along a predictable vertical.

Lateral thinking is the art of creating something new out of something existent, you achieve this by manipulating elements in the product or service. Lateral thinking is commonly known as .

Lateral thinking is all about making new connections that aren’t entirely obvious.

Here are 6 lateral thinking techniques you can use to create new ideas, new options and ultimately something new:


  • Substitute. Substitution consists in removing one or several elements of the product and changing it.
  • Combine. Combination consists of adding one or several elements to the product or service, maintaining the rest.
  • Invert. Inversion consists on doing or saying the opposite to an element of the product or service.
  • Eliminate. Elimination consists on removing an element of the product or service.
  • Exaggerate. Exaggeration consists on imagining an exaggerated state of your product or service.
  • Reorder. Reordering consists of changing the order or sequence of one or more product or service elements.


Here a simple example of how this works using a pizza delivery service:


Substitute it. Send hot dogs instead.

Combine it. Send the pizza + lasagna for free.

Invert it. Send the pizza only on certain hours during the week and but on the weekend all day.

The Baader Meinhof Complex full Eliminate it. Don’t deliver pizza.

Exaggerate it. Deliver a pizza with double everything and call it extreme pizza.

Reorder it. Customer sends you the ingredients he wants and you make the pizza.


Give it a try, you’ll come up with new ideas in no time!