Lateral Thinking & Elasticity

by megantaylor05

     Gunpei Yokoi was a video game developer who created the Mario video games, Game Boy portable gaming system, and the cross shaped button still used on video game controllers today. His work at Nintendo can be seen through these and other technologies that the company still produces. Yokoi developed a philosophy he called “Lateral thinking of Withered Technology”  Lateral thinking is the idea that problems can be solved using a creative, untraditional approach (“Lateral Thinking”, n.d.). Yokoi applied this concept to “withered technology”, which is technology that well developed and cheap. Yokoi wanted to find new, innovative ways to use technology some may consider “outdated.” He believed that concern over utilizing exciting, expensive technology could interfere with developing a good, new product. By employing this philosophy, Yokoi developed the Game Boy using simple technology, which was also used in calculators and cheap to incorporate (“Gunpei Yokoi”, n.d.).

     Lateral thinking of withered technology can lead to success for a company, as it often did for Nintendo, but I think it can also hinder progress. The Wikipedia article “Gunpei Yokoi” asserts that the philosophy prevented Nintendo’s N64 from competing with other gaming consoles because it was attempting to use “old” cartridge technology instead of the new (and would later prove superior) laser discs. However, if a developer does not have access to a innovative or superior technology, i.e. only has the “withered technology” as an option, then I think that Lateral Thinking can prove to be a successful in developing a new product. I think that any time one is able, they should look at a problem from a different perspective and think critically and creatively. This will more likely lead to a constructive solution that efficiently meets your goals (“Gunpei Yokoi”, n.d.).

     The Design and the Elastic Mind site is an online exhibition that displays the importance of “elasticity” in an age when humans are “inundated with information”, the world around them changes “scale and pace”, and communication is established often and in different manners (MOMA; Antonelli, 2008, 14-16). Due to this constant change “elasticity” in thinking is necessary. Antonelli says elasticity is “the ability to negotiate change and innovation without letting them interfere..with rhythms and goals” (Antonelli, 2008, 14). The site highlights several concepts I found particularly interesting. Thinkering is experimentation guided by engagement with the world and constructive collaboration between colleagues. Responsive design consists of elements that respond to our needs before we initiate. Visualization is the process of dealing with vast amounts of information that is miniscule or massive by visualizing it, and therefore understanding it. These concepts are significant for instructional designers because through the instruction the designer develops, the audience must experience, process and respond to the information presented in an effective manner which leads to understanding.

     The ideas found in both of these philosophies can be applied to the field of educational technology, technology integration, and instructional design. I believe that these concepts will continue to impact my understanding, teaching, and designing. In many school districts there are not funds to purchase the new and cutting-edge technology and the technology that is available is “withered.” When this is the case, it greatly benefits the teacher/IT/designer to approach technology integration with lateral thinking. The concepts from “Design and the Elastic Mind” can affect how we present information to students and how we, as facilitators or leaders, can control the flow of information within our classrooms or the instructional design we create.

Antonelli, P. (2008). Design and the elastic mind. Retrieved from

Gunpei Yokoi. (n.d.) In Wikipedia. Retrieved from

Lateral Thinking. (n.d.) In Wikipedia. Retrieved from

Museum of Modern Art. (2008). [Interactive website supplementing art exhibition]. Design and the Elastic Mind. Retrieved from