I don't believe it is a question of "changing" someone's thought process. Rather, I believe it is a question of educating how both thought processes work whether you are linear or lateral. As one contributer suggested, both end up getting to the same spot, they just take different paths to get there. I would add that both types of thinkers take the same steps, just in a different order. That is, the linear thinker is obviously very sequential. A linear thinker that is about to make a decision evaluates the situation, determines the goals and criteria of that decision, generates and evaluates alternatives, assess risks, and makes a choice. The lateral thinker may start with their favorite choice first in order to come to a determination on what the acceptable criteria should be or perhaps may even look at the situation driving the decision somewhat in different context. The key is that each party understands which step the parties are relative to each other. Each method has it's strengths and weaknesses. I believe both can work together without resorting to a 'forced" change in approach. From my experience, most people have a very difficult time trying to "adjust" their comfortable way of thinking whether going from lateral to linear or linear to lateral.
Linear thinking can cause “group think” and other dangerous mind-sets to develop within an organization and this type of thinking can absolutely kill innovation.
People I work with have been trained in formal methodologies to use to manage projects and the strict adherence to these guidelines can cause a severe case of linear thinking. I am a lateral thinker and this makes me rather uncomfortable, as though stuck in a rut when there actually isnt one....I guess that is hard to understand, but how do you create a system to educate people on the dangers of too much linear thinking and/or the benefits of lateral thinking?. Interesting questions and something that I will be thinking about more in the future. It is assumed that critical and creative cannot be combined, but personally I think that is simply not true.