The second lateral thinking technique involves challenging any assumptions made. A particular view, model, or pattern of a situation is made up of a structure of “basic” ideas. The basic ideas are building blocks from which more complex ideas (for example, a particular view of a situation) are generated. It is usually taken for granted that these basic ideas are sound and they are seldom stated. One way of challenging assumptions is continually to ask “why” about aspects of a problem, with successive “why” questions directed at some aspect of the previous answers. The idea is not to “attack” the assumptions as wrong, but to restructure the pattern or problem area (that is, to move out of the self-imposed boundaries of the problem).
Fractionation, another lateral thinking technique involves breaking down any situation into parts and then trying to reassemble the parts in a different way. The divisions do not have to be equal, nor do they have to cover the whole of the situation, and it is acceptable if there is considerable overlap. The divisions can be fairly arbitrary and do not have to be logical.
Brainstorming is a team activity aimed at generating a cross simulation of ideas. It is used in a semiformal setting to generate ideas, where the ideas of one person serve as a stimulus to generate further ideas from other people, which in turn serve as a stimulus for further ideas, and so on. Judgment on the usefulness or validity of the ideas is “suspended” until the brainstorming session is completed. The aim is to get a free flow of ideas.
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