Immersed in a crisis, instability generates an anxiety that only seems to enhance an already extremely difficult situation, which makes it difficult to see beyond the reality of the moment lived. Research has shown that, at times like this, it is very easy for the mind to get caught up in obsessive thoughts and get stuck at that point. Fears make it extremely difficult to see the big picture and the positive possibilities that lie behind the veil of fear.

The way to overcome it is to strengthen our mental stamina through resilience. Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, tragedies, threats, or significant sources of stress. To the extent that the ability to overcome implies a different way of dealing with setbacks, it is a form of lateral thinking that can involve deep personal growth.

Resilience is also necessary for business, understood as the ability of an organization to adapt quickly to disruptions, while maintaining its business operations and protecting people, assets, and brand equity. This resilience of companies goes a step beyond the recovery from the crisis, and involves thinking about post-crisis strategies to mitigate the costs of periods of reduced activity, shore up vulnerabilities and maintain the commercial pace in the face of additional and unexpected problems.

An often overlooked challenge in business resilience planning is the human element, so people who find themselves in a chaotic situation will need to be prepared and educated on how to respond accordingly. An aspect that has often been relegated to reactive rather than proactive situations. This happens because our society primarily emphasizes the development of logical thinking skills, relegating the development of our lateral thinking skills.

Traditional thinking is vertical, advancing step by step towards a logical conclusion based on the available data, on previous learning. Lateral thinking, however, is horizontal, placing the emphasis on generating new ideas, while dismissing the emphasis on the details of how those ideas might be implemented. Both vertical and lateral thinking are complementary: Without lateral thinking, vertical thinking would be too narrow-minded; Without vertical thinking, lateral thinking would produce many possible solutions, but no plan to implement them.

Psychologist Edward de Bono, who developed the concept of lateral thinking, argued that the brain thinks in two stages: The first is a stage of perception, in which the brain creates its own reality in a certain way, identifying particular patterns. The second stage uses those guidelines, that particular way of looking at the environment, and builds on them to reach a certain conclusion. No matter how effective we are at second-stage vertical thinking, better top-down thinking will never be able to correct the mistakes that have arisen in the first stage. To more accurately perceive and understand the patterns of our environment, we need to develop our lateral thinking skills.

I suggest 3 basic principles to open yourself up to lateral thinking:

  1. Analyze the problem from the outside in.
  2. Open up your connections to contemplate other possibilities.
  3. Align What Matters: Purpose and Benefit

Starting from the premise that the future is already the present and that no crisis situation lasts forever, how to deal with it requires a different way of thinking.


Carlos Puig Falcó

CEO of Branward

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