My SCRAPBOOK (సేకరణలు): A COLLECTION of articles in English and Telugu(తెలుగు), from various sources, on varied subjects. I do not claim credit for any of the contents of these postings as my own.A student's declaration made at the end of his answer paper, holds good to the articles here too:"I hereby declare that the answers written above are true to the best of my friend's knowledge and I claim no responsibility whatsoever of the correctness of the answers."

Monday, October 09, 2006

On lateral thinking

It was Napoleon who said that 'impossibility' is a word found only in the dictionary of fools. With proper and clinical application of the mind, one can find solutions to all problems in the world except perhaps the Kashmir problem, the Vande Mataram imbroglio and the Self-financing Educational Institutions Bill of Kerala.

When conventional thinking fails, one has to take recourse to lateral thinking. Lateral thinking is a management concept according to which a problem is sought to be solved by adopting a flanking movement, that is, a completely different approach that could even involve reformulating the problem.

The term was coined by Edward de Bono, a Malta-born English physician and management guru, in 1967. Problems that defy solutions by direct method of reasoning are believed to be amenable to the lateral approach.

Lateral thinking has introduced many puzzles to challenge your preconceptions about problems. Here are some of them.

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

(a) an old lady who looks as if she is about to die

(b) An old friend who once saved your life and

(c) a bewitching beauty, a perfect partner you have been dreaming about.

Knowing that you can accommodate only one passenger in your swanky sports model, whom would you choose?The answer: the old lady, of course! After helping the old lady into the car, you can give your keys to your friend, and wait with your perfect partner for the bus.

2)Again, the problem: How could a baby fall out of a twenty-storey building onto the ground and live?
Answer: The baby fell out of the ground floor window.

3)Problem: A man and his son are in a car crash. The father is killed and the child is taken to hospital gravely injured. When he gets there, the surgeon says, "I can't operate on this boy, for he is my son!" How can this possibly be?
Answer: The surgeon cannot operate on her own son; she is his mother.

4)A poor Indian farmer who owes money to a moneylender agrees to settle the debt based on the choice of two stones, one black and one white, from a moneybag. If his beautiful daughter chooses the white stone, the debt is cancelled. If she picks the black stone, the moneylender gets the farmer's daughter. However, the moneylender 'fixes' the outcome by putting two black stones in the bag. The daughter sees this and when she picks up a stone out of the bag, immediately drops it onto the path full of other stones. She then points out that the stone which she picked must have been the opposite of the one remaining in the bag. Unwilling to be unveiled as dishonest, the cutthroat moneylender must agree and cancel the debt. The daughter has thus solved an intractable problem by lateral thinking.

However, to sort out some of the pointless problems of the subcontinent, even lateral thinking would not do. It requires the wisdom of a Solomon.

- The Colonel
(The Week
OCTOBER 15, 2006 )




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