Novelty is essential to horizontal thinking. It can be thought of as lateral or creative thinking. When I explained a useful form of horizontal thinking in a previous essay, I used abductive reasoning as an example. Here, I will divert from that by trying to provide more creative solutions. But creative in relation to what?
In the first essay of this series we uncovered a process of climate change by vertical thinking, and then proposed a solution to climate change: reverse the process. Here, by “a creative solution” I mean any solution that builds upon or differs from that basic concept. With that said, let us get to some suggestions. Keep in mind that the solutions here will not be refined, as that would be thinking vertically and deeply on said solution. Here, we will just try to brainstorm a few solutions to illustrate horizontal thinking.
An atmosphere regulating machine
It could be possible to create a machine that either stores greenhouse gases or moves them out of the atmosphere. During photosynthesis trees already do this process, so we know that it is possible. This thinking is horizontal, because it invokes novelty, namely a machine that does the process for us.
A minimalist solution could be to just decelerate the process of climate change. If done effectively enough, this could allow the natural processes on earth to restabilise. This is not an additive solution, but a subtractive one: Rather than adding something to fix the problem, it simply tries to avoid the problem’s development.
Humanity’s adaptability is both a strength and a weakness. In difficult times we can adapt to harsh conditions, which is good. However, we can also get used to harsh conditions, which is bad. This solution suggests to change both the natural and cultural world so that climate change would not be a problem. This would mean to somehow exploit or at least be able to coexist with climate change. This solution is extremely novel, as it not just adds something new to the solution of the problem, but rethinks the whole framework of human existence.
This concludes some examples of horizontal thinking. It can be anything from minimalistic and efficient to innovative and redefining. So go out there and think horizontally!
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