Wisdom From Books

A few words on lateral thinking puzzles

Posted on: December 6, 2010

On Friday, one of the most famous puzzles of lateral thinking was put on the blog i.e. man in the elevator. (you can read the puzzle on: http://wp.me/pHUHq-e2). I would like to thank all those who read it, thought about it and /or tried to answer. 

Answer is being given at the end of this post, once some light is thrown on the lateral thinking puzzles. (Source: Paul Sloane’s list of Classic Lateral Thinking

Lateral thinking puzzles teach to check assumptions about any situation.

To think laterally, a person need to be  open-minded, flexible and creative in  questioning. Further while thinking about the solutions for lateral thinking puzzles, a person has to be able to put lots of different clues and pieces of information together.

Once a person reach a viable solution, he / she has to keep going in order to refine it or replace it with a better solution. This is lateral thinking!

Lateral thinking puzzles are often strange situations which require an explanation. They are solved through a dialogue between the  quiz master who sets the puzzle and the solver or solvers who try to figure out the answer. The puzzles as stated generally do not contain sufficient information for the solver to uncover the solution. So a key part of the process is asking questions.

The questions can receive one of only three possible answers – yes, no or irrelevant.

When one line of enquiry reaches an end then another approach is needed, often from a completely new direction. This is where the lateral thinking comes in.

Some people find it frustrating that for any puzzle it is possible to construct various answers which fit the initial statement of the puzzle. However, for a good lateral thinking puzzle, the proper answer will be the best in the sense of the most apt and satisfying.  Here is the answer to Friday’s puzzle:

You can read the puzzle / question on: http://wp.me/pHUHq-e2

Answer: The man is very short in height i.e. he is a dwarf!

He is unable to reach tenth floor as his hand can’t reach the tenth floor button. While on rainy days, he has umbrella, through which he can press the tenth floor button.

There may be other possible answers too. Happy thinking!


4 Responses to "A few words on lateral thinking puzzles"

OMG! nothing came to me, i didnt thought of anything, my answer was (after a very very long and hard thinking) the guy was probably fat wanted to loose weight (most of the weight loosers hate walking) and why he goes straight to the tenth floor in an elevator during rainy season? well he just finds an excuse not to walk 🙂 (does it mean iam stupid)? is it ok not to have lateral thinking ability?

As per De Bono, thinking is a skill. People should develop ‘thinking skill’ as they develop reading and writing skills. He was the one who coined the term ‘lateral thinking’ and he also proposed that thinking should be taught in schools. Certain we all learn with time and our experience and there is nothing wrong if a particular answer is not found by every one. In lateral thinking, there can be many answers to the same problem. Thanks for your comments

COOL!!! hahah!! made me laugh and wonder 🙂

Once again you helped thinking laterally.. :). I read the some articles and few books of Edward de bono on lateral thinking. I found Six Thinking Hats theory interesting i hope u’ll share it soon as it relates the topic.

thank you sir.
best regards

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