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Experimenting with Lateral Thinking

"Experimenting and trying to overcome the barriers in my own thought process"

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My father is a PhD in computer engineering and my mother is a PhD in bio-physics I used to live in a joint family back in India and my uncle and aunty both are doctors. My father and my uncle write plays and articles and always been involved in the “creative” activities, although they do make good money in their respective careers as engineer and doctor. As a kid I used to always wonder why they were doing it. I mean I could understand them doing it as a hobby, but I felt there had to be something more. I asked them one day why they did it? They gave me a very interesting answer that has influenced me until today. They told me that engaging with these “creative” activities made them think beyond the logical and the obvious. It helped them in the process of generating alternatives and prevented them to try to reach the optimized solution. This helped them in their professional life too. They gave me a book to read called ‘Lateral Thinking’ by Edward De Bono. The books talks about the concept of Lateral thinking. Lateral thinking, is the ability to think creatively, or "outside the box" as it is sometimes referred to in business, to use your inspiration and imagination to solve problems by looking at them from unexpected perspectives.

I believe in having wider perspective of problem/ challenge. Taking a holistic approach is more likely to let you reach an optimized solution. After reading this book certainly felt the need of developing a broader perspective. I came to NYU-Poly after completing my undergraduate degree in Electronics engineering, which has sharpened my logical thinking capability. But when I started studying business courses, I felt that in real life in many cases there is no right or wrong or not one correct solution. In contrast, engineering problems do have one solution most of the times! Generating the alternatives, ideas is not an easy task. Moreover as engineers, we don’t try to imagine things that seem ‘illogical’.

I have an interest in product development. I have taken couple of courses and I enjoy that. And I would say being a student of Design thinking class I can more confidently put forth my ideas regarding product improvisation/ development etc. I can generate “alternatives”. Be innovative is easy to say but how to go about it and overcome the barriers in thought process is what makes it interesting for me.

My key insights from reflecting on my experience:

- Role models (my dad and uncle) are my source of inspiration

- Lateral thinking

- Change acted as a trigger : Moving to the US and shifting from electrical engineering to management

- Experimenting with new courses and trying to overcome the barriers in my own thought process

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