Where can I park?

Vic Ward
3 min readAug 11, 2020

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A place to turn around at the end of the lot.

Recently I saw an application of lateral thinking. It worked in a situation where vertical thinking didn’t provide an immediate answer.

“Lateral thinking seeks to get away from the patterns that are leading in a definite direction and to move sideways by re-forming the patterns. Lateral thinking is necessary precisely because the brain functions so well in a vertical fashion.” Edward deBono

The way people write about creativity you’d think it occurs to people who have superior habits. Who are naturally creative. Who take creativity classes. Or, run large organizations.

Let’s take a daily, ordinary problem. How to find a parking space in a lot with no parking spaces available.

At the end of this parking lot is a place to turn around.

The problem how to get out of the lot and find a place to park remains insoluble as long as the usual way. Vertical thinking, makes us think of the pattern:

  1. This lot is full.
  2. Turn around.
  3. Go to another parking lot.
  4. Or, park on a nearby street.
  5. Wait for someone to leave.

The problem, where to park, remains insoluble as long as the usual ways of looking at this parking problem come to mind.

The parking problem has no answer.

But, it does. It was easily solved. By suspending judgement an obvious alternative was thought of and acted on.

Often a situation is a problem because its viewed and analyzed in a fixed, rigid way. Like the list above. Looking at this situation and many other problems in a new way allows a lateral thinker to do something so obvious that the problem disappears.

I was parked in the lot and reading as I waited for my wife to return. I noticed that there was a pile of leaves and yard waste in the place to turn around next to where I was.

I happened to be reading one of my favorite books on creativity, New Think, by Edward deBono. I used copies of New Think as business cards when I ran my first business, Ideation. In the day, they cost 94 cents apiece.

An SUV pulled into the turnaround, all the way up to the pile of limbs and leaves. And, stopped. I assume he decided that he couldn’t drive through the pile. So he backed out and drove off.

A few minutes later I noticed a person pulled into the driveway.

I had just read an appropriate passage from the deBono book.

“…new ideas tend to occur much more often to those who are able to escape from the rigidity of words and classifications.”

Leaves create a parking space.

I thought, she’ll start backing out any time.

She didn’t, she suspended judgement. She got out of the car and walked to the doctor’s office.

She created a parking place in a “full parking lot”. She used the blocked turn around as a parking space.

This is an example of deBono’s idea of changing the view of a problem. Suspending judgement and making it disappear. Solving it.

Creativity occurs everywhere, I just have to notice it.

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Vic Ward

Help people apply creativity, start new small businesses, use mobile devices, collaborate, understand the coming recession and keep up with the future of work.