Solving the problem

Edward de Bono (1971), one of the key authors that dealt with creativity and innovative thinking, provided me with a huge amount of material on lateral thinking, this is the type of thinking that I had to call upon to solve the problem I was faced with at Tesco. Edward de Bono in his texts, spoke of two types of mindsets, the vertical thinker and the lateral thinker, vertical thinkers as described by de Bono, ‘take the most reasonable view of a situation and then proceed logically and carefully to work it out.’ pp. 10.

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This was a distinct characteristic of the mindsets of management at Tesco at the time of the dilemma. At first the management, were quite content on making reasonable and low risk changes to satisfy the complaints made by certain staff, such as introducing more lockers. The management at Tesco, needed to open there minds to other possible solutions that would be more efficient and less costly.

It wasn’t until I offered my idea coming from my lateral thinking that they decided to go for a transformational approach to dealing with the idea. This was an achievement that I deeply proud of, not only had I confronted the management with the problem that was present at the time, I had also given them the perfect solution to overcome it, and for them to adapt and introduce my idea gave me a real sense of self actualisation, which in turn made my job at Tesco a lot more enjoyable.

De Bono was a firm believer that creative problem solving could assist in opening the minds of the parties who are effected by the current dilemma, he stated that it could; “help people modify or even change their paradigm” (1992) this was to prove critical if I was going to shift the management’s mindset away from their vertical thinking patterns and more towards my lateral way of solving the problem. How I achieved this was through my proposal, I had not only explained my transformational solution, I had also listed all the reasons why the new system would be a win/win scenario for all.

If I hadn’t shifted my managers paradigm then they could of quite easily dismissed my idea and lean towards a more costly venture i. e. introducing more lockers. Edward de Bono, believed that; “lateral thinkers tend to explore all the different ways of looking at something, rather than accepting the most promising and proceeding from that. ” This form of thinking was required on my part to solve the problem in question, I had to step back and look at the situation and try resolve the problem so that all parties concerned came away with a win/win state of mind. A win/win solution as described by S.

R Covey, where; ‘all parties feel good about the decision and feel committed to the action plan’ pp. 207. With the dilemma I faced, it proved quite difficult to try and attempt an outcome that would leave all employees coming away with a win/win attitude, due to the sheer amount of employees at this particular Tesco superstore, however it was important to please the majority, and those resisting to change would have to adapt to the companies new policy. De Bono spoke in some of his text the idea of ‘creative pauses’, this is a term used to describe the deep contemplation that is sometimes needed to ‘dream up’ new ideas and solve problems.

This is an activity that I can relate to whilst working at Tesco, as the idea that I proposed came to me whilst day dreaming on a particular shift. During my contemplation to seek solutions I kept an open and positive mind and kept the faith that there was a plausible solution here. Creative pauses, as explained by De Bono, enables people to break out of routine patterns of thinking and begin to think laterally. Looking back at the way I solved the problem I was confronted with at Tesco, I don’t think there would have been much that I would have done differently if I could go back and change anything.

If I had the knowledge back then that I have now, from taking part in the wider reading for this assignment, then there is a possibility that I could have resolved the situation with a win/win outcome for all members of staff. This could have been achieved by adapting the tools provided by the numerous authors in the field of creative problem solving to the dilemma I was faced with at Tesco. Im a firm believer of De Bono’s quote which states; “Using creativity is the cheapest way of making better use of the existing assets.

” This quote captures the very essence of how a problematic and escalating dilemma that I faced in my work place could be solved simply by stepping back from the situation and thinking ‘out side’ of the box and providing creative solutions. What I’ve learnt from reflecting upon this particular event that I chose to tackle was the very fact that I should always be open minded to new ideas, try not to solve problems by strictly thinking in a vertical and low risk fashion, always consider that there are new ideas out there just waiting to be dreamt up.

Lateral and transformational ways of solving problems do bring high risks factors, however it is always best to have at least tried, and if your solution fails then you can learn from your mistakes and consider new ideas. In my situation I could of easily gone along with the crowd and contribute to the problem, instead I chose to do something about it, and in this incident it paid off and my creative thinking had awarded me with the knowledge that I contributed in improving the work environment at Tesco.


Covey, S. R., 1994. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Frome, UK. De Bono, E. , 1977. Lateral Thinking. Clays Ltd, England. De Bono, F. , 1977. Practical Thinking. Cox & Wyman Ltd. UK De Bono, F. , 1996. Serious Creativity Using the Power of Lateral Thinking to Create New ideas. Omnia Books Ltd, Glasgow. De Bono, F. , 1967. The Use of Lateral Thinking. Aylesbury, Great Britain. Robertson, S. I. , 2001. Problem Solving. Psychology Press Ltd. Sussex, UK. Rubinstein, F. M. , 1986. Tools for Thinking and Problem Solving. Prentice Hall, US