This book has become one of my foundational books for thinking. I have summarised and distilled the book into 13 core principles:
We are surrounded by chaotic systems, adaptability is vital to our success.
Invert always Invert. Inversion can unlock new ideas and solutions. For example, instead of asking: "How can I be healthy?" ask yourself: "How can I not be healthy?" and then do the opposite of those things.
Use counterfactual thinking by asking what would have happened if I did a/b/c. How would it have changed the outcome?
People use strategies, tactics and technology that were successful for them in the past. What was useful for the last battle may not be useful now. The most effective strategies change over time. If your opponent is using out of date strategies you can win with a much smaller force.
Rejecting evidence that contradicts established norms is known as the Semmelweis Reflex. For example, doctors washing their hands before surgery.
Institutions will try and preserve the problem to which they are the solution. This is known as the Shirky principle.
Overcome confirmation bias by playing devil's advocate and using ‘thinking in grey concept’.
Unfairness Triggers strong emotions. People know this and will try to influence by framing situations from a fairness perspective.
When making a decision ask someone who has made a similar decision if there are any variables that you may not have considered.
Use the idea from tennis of 'Unforced Errors' when making decisions. For example with dating: Don't make a bad first impression. Dress well.
The Placebo Effect - The BMJ reported that in trials of fake surgeries, 74% saw some improvement and in 51% they improved about as much as the actual surgeries.
As opposed to critical thinking, with lateral thinking you jump between ideas. A technique to help with lateral thinking is to choose a random object or noun from the dictionary and try and associate it to your idea.
When making changes to a situation or system, think about (CHOPS):