Friday, 29 August 2008

What is Lateral Thinking?.. Concept and origin

What is lateral thinking? Where does this term come from? Who are lateral thinkers? Is it a talent that one is born with? Is it a function of intelligence? Can one be taught to think laterally?
“Lateral+thinking” resulted in 7,050,000 hits on the Internet. I must be the only person in the world that does not fully understand the scope and nature of this concept.
My first exposure to this term was during the late 80’s. I was employed as a Programme Manager by an Internationally recognised research organisation, heavily involved with research, development and implementation of technology. So, I have had more than a fair share of exposure to original or creative thinking, but more of that later.
While digging around the amazing thing was that the concept of lateral thinking seems to be equated with intelligence. In other words lateral thinking is an area reserved for those who have an above average intelligence. I don't even want to go to the can of worms that defines intelligence, maybe sometime later. Anyhow, the suggestion is that average or below average people cannot think laterally. Surely this must be utter nonsense.
One of the quick answers to lateral thinking is “thinking outside the box”, an all encompassing statement that in itself can be more confusing than explanatory. I have a vivid memory of a colleague explaining the concept of lateral thinking at a management meeting. He walked up to the whiteboard and drew a rectangle. On the right hand side of the “box” he made a fat black dot. Lateral thinking was the dot, outside the box, so you have to think outside the box, which he repeated over and over. How this was to be done was not clear, but obviously important, if you want to solve a problem. ( In retrospect, he was one of the most linear thinkers I have ever worked with.)
So, lateral thinking is only for problem solvers? (More again later)
I have that sinking feeling that I have bitten off more than I can chew, not really sure where this is going to, and there is too much to post as a single post, will have to break it up into bits.
Next post will cover the origin and concept of “thinking outside the box”

I have skipped the outside the box example in favour of an example of lateral thinking.Outside the box next

Butcher on a Mono-cycle

Butcher on a mono-cycle, serious stuff, scary.
My computer has been upgraded, new service provider, broadband etc etc. Taking a while to get familiar with all the little changes, this technology will most probably be good for the next 12 months before becoming outdated.
What has happened to the millions and millions of the old 'stiffy' discs? And all the information on them?

Thursday, 14 August 2008

General Hannibal of Carthage

General Hannibal, one of history’s most talented Generals, is well known for his invasion of Rome via Spain and the Alps. Hannibal was a Carthaginian who spent his entire life in a pursuit to destroy Rome. He was the son of a Carthaginian General, Hamilcar Barca. As a 9 year old boy he made an oath “ I swear that so soon as I am old enough, I will pursue the Romans both at sea and on land. I will use both fire and steel to arrest the destiny of Rome”.
Volumes and volumes have been written about Hannibal, and detailed stuff can be obtained from the Internet.
However, a bit about the 2ND Punic War and his trip over the Alps with his elephants.
After Carthage had been defeated during the 1st Punic War by the Romans, he went to Spain with his father to learn the arts of war. He became the commander of the Carthaginian army in Spain after his father’s death in 228BC. Three years later he set off for Rome with and army of 50,000 soldiers, 9,000 horsemen and about 200 elephants. (These figures vary, depending on what you read.)
He went up the East Coast of Spain, over the Pyrenees and across the river Rhone. By the time he got to the Alps autumn had set in and it was bitterly cold. Many soldiers were lost during the crossing due to men slipping into crevasses and over precipices while others were slain by falling boulders, rolled down by locals in an endeavor to halt his progress.
It was bitterly cold with snowstorms; soldiers were almost blinded and suffered many hardships.
When Hannibal reached the plain of Northern Italy his army had been reduced by half. He won a number of minor battles on his way toward Rome, but his progress was severely hampered by delaying tactics employed by Rome and the local population. The use of war elephants was not the first time elephants had been used in warfare, as this tactic had been employed in Asia for a long time, but was unknown by the Romans, and scared them to no end.
A major battle took place at Cannae during the summer of 216BC. A Roman force of between 70,000 and 100,000 men was defeated by a vastly outnumbered Carthaginian force. Hannibal managed, by superb strategy, to surround the Romans, and the army was annihilated.
Many famous Romans died in the battle and legend has it that Hannibal sent home to Carthage a bushel of gold rings worn by Roman nobles as a sign of rank.
Anyhow, Hannibal had a number of problems. Firstly the tribes he had conquered he could not control, and he had to spend a vast amount of time keeping them subdued, as they had all taken sides with the Romans. He received no re-enforcements, or help from Carthage. His brother raised an army to help him, but this army was destroyed at sea by roman ships.
Hannibal was in Italy for 10 years and never lost a major battle, a long time.. He had to return to Carthage when the Romans under Scipio had launched a counter attack on his home city.
Hannibal never achieved his dream of conquering the Romans, but spent the rest of his long life devoted to this cause.
He inspired fear into the Romans as no other person ever had.
“Hannibal became such a figure of terror, that whenever disaster struck, the Roman Senators would exclaim "Hannibal ad portas" (“Hannibal is at the Gates!”)” ( Wikipedia)
A quote attributed to Hannibal is “We will either find a way or make one”
Lots and lots of available stuff on Internet if you surf around
A post on Carthage here

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Installing a TV antenna during thunderstorm, Image

Image of two guys installing a TV antenna on a rooftop during a thunder storm.
Cannot believe this, serious stuff
Received via email, source on image.
My limited German translates image caption to " this cannot be true"

Wednesday, 06 August 2008

How the Plumber handles his troubles

I am a cynic when it comes to reading "inspirational" emails, usually delete them before reading all of it. This one, however, I liked.

"I hired a plumber to help me restore an old farmhouse, and after he had just finished a rough first day on the job: a flat tyre made him lose an hour of work & his electric drill quit, his ancient one-ton truck refused to start. While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence.
On arriving he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked towards the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the tree. When opening the door he underwent an amazing transformation.
His tanned face was wreathed in smiles and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss. Afterward he walked me to the car. We passed the tree and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier.
Oh, that's my trouble tree," he replied. "I know I can't help having troubles on the job, but one thing's for sure, those troubles don't belong in the house with my wife and the children.
So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home and ask God to take care of them. Then in the morning I pick them up again.
"Funny thing is," he smiled, when I come out in the morning to pick them up, there aren't nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before."
Received by email, origin unknown