Life evolves through vertical and horizontal transfers. And companies, too. The classical bottom-up and top-down dualism is cracked by horizontal transfer.

Horizontal and vertical: The evolution of evolution by Mark Buchanan
At the root of this idea is overwhelming recent evidence for horizontal gene transfer – in which organisms acquire genetic material “horizontally” from other organisms around them, rather than vertically from their parents or ancestors.

This new scientific vision of Darwin’s evolution (the tree of life), as described in the article by Mark Buchanan, is a good metaphor not only for effective ideation, but for most of processes that take place in companies or other defined systems. That’s why an idea detective has to be open to vertical processes and to all horizontal forms of exchange, influence, and forces. The classical dualism of bottom-up or top down for process control, decision making, change induction or idea implementation is cracked with a third element: horizontal transfer. It seems that life applies lateral thinking, too.

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