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Lateral thinking is a way of looking at a problem by using one's brain to make new connections, to go outside the usual patterns. Many of us are prone to keep doing the same thing over and over again, perhaps with a little tweak here or a little tweak there, but not looking at anything from a new and different angle. Managerial decision-making and problem-solving are as subject to this limitation as most thinking is. A good manager needs to be able to ask, "What if we did something different this time?" A good example of this is 3M, which was, I believe, the first company to provide employees with time on the job set aside for their own creative thinking and projects. Someone asked what would happen if management just let employees follow their own ideas sometimes. This resulted in Post-its, and many other successful products for the company.
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