Thinking Out Of The Box (Articles 2020)
THINKING OUT OF THE BOX : LATERAL THINKING
Many years ago in a small Indian village, a farmer had the misfortune of Owing to a large sum of money to a village moneylender. The moneylender, who was old and ugly, fancied the farmer’s beautiful daughter. So he proposed a bargain. He said he would forgo the farmer’s debt if he could Marry the farmer’s daughter. Both the farmer and his daughter were horrified by the proposal. So the cunning moneylender suggested that they let providence decide the matter.
He told them that he would put a black pebble and a white pebble into an empty money bag. Then the girl would have to pick one pebble from the bag. If she picked the black pebble, she would become his wife and her father’s debt would be written off. If she picked the white pebble she need not marry him and her father’s debt would still be written off. But if she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be thrown into jail.
They were standing on a pebble-strewn path in the farmer’s field. As they talked, the moneylender bent over to pick up to pebbles. As he picked them up, the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two blacked pebbles and put them into the bag. He then asked the girl to pick a pebble from the bag.
Now, imagine you were standing in the field. What would you have done if you had been the girl? If you had to advise her, what would you have told her?
Careful analysis would produce three possibilities:
a) The girl should refuse to take a pebble.
b) The girl should show that there were two black pebbles in the bag and expose the moneylender as a cheat.
c) The girl should pick a black pebble and sacrifice herself in order to save her father from debt and imprisonment.
Take a moment to ponder over the story. The above story is used with the hope that it will make us appreciate the difference between lateral and logical thinking. The girl’s dilemma cannot be solved with traditional logical thinking. Think of the consequences if she chooses the above logical answers.
What would you recommend the girl to do?
This is what the girl actually did.
The girl put her hand into the money bag and drew out a pebble without looking at it, she fumbled and let it fall onto the pebble-strewn path where it immediately became lost among all the other pebbles.
“Oh, how clumsy of me,” she said. “But never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked.”
Since the remaining pebble is black, it must be assumed that she had picked the white one. And since the moneylender dared not admit his dishonesty, the girl changed what seemed an impossible situation into an extremely advantageous one.
What does this story teach us? Is it that most complex problems do have a solution. It is only that we don’t attempt to think in that direction. It teaches us to think ‘out of the box’ or think laterally. Careful analysis would produce three possibilities.
Lateral Thinking: Thinking Out Of The Box.
Here is a story that illustrates the use of lateral thinking…
A millionaire named Thomas walked into a popular bank in the middle of New York City and requested to speak to a loan officer. He did not inform the staff of his immense riches but he simply said that he was going away on business for a few weeks, to another country, and needed to borrow a small sum of money – $5000. Banks being banks, they immediately asked for security on the loan. Thomas pointed out of the window to the shiny new Ferrari parked right in front of the bank. He took the title, paperwork, and keys out of his pocket and slapped them down on the counter like a man on a mission. The staff went to work checking out the validity of his own and sure enough, everything was checked out. And of course, which bank was going to turn down a quarter of million dollars in collateral security for a mere $5000 loan?
Thomas left the bank with his $5000 and the bank employee took Thomas keys and drove the brand new Ferrari down into the bank’s underground garage. He assured Thomas that it would be perfectly safe down there. Thomas then left the bank and caught his flight to his faraway land.
Anyway, two weeks went by and sure enough, the blank opened Monday morning to see Thomas stroll in and slap the $5000 he had borrowed back on the counter, plus the interest which was around $15. The loan officer asked for the car to be brought round to the front of the bank and then asked Thomas a question. “ Our bank prides itself in details and customer service,” he said, “and while you were away we did a background check, its routine, and discovered you actually one of the wealthiest men in America. Why on the earth would you need to borrow $5000, it just doesn’t make sense.”
Thomas smiled, picked up the keys from the counter and said, “Can you tell me another way I could have picked have parked my new Ferrari in the middle of New York for two weeks, for just $15, and still expect to get it back in top condition?” With that, Thomas walked out of the door and the loan officer smiled a bigger smile.