How to use Boundary Examination:

  • Write out the problem statement, visible to the whole group, beginning “How to….”.
  • Underline the most important words and phrases.
  • Examine each underlined word or phrase in turn for assumptions and possible connotations. See how the meaning changes if you use a synonym or near synonym.
  • Through group discussion you may arrive at a word or phrase which they feel describes the problem more accurately. This should be noted down.
  • Using these new words and phrases, rewrite a new problem statement beginning “How to…” or, “How might we …….”

Source: De Bono E. (1982) Lateral Thinking for Management. Penguin Books.

Return to: Clarify the challenge (tools to support problem exploration and definition)