EDWARD DE BONO PDF
Dr. Edward de Bono. ▫ Traditional Thinking. ▫ What is Parallel Thinking? ▫ Traditional Thinking vs. Parallel Thinking. ▫ What is Lateral Thinking? ▫ Introduction. Edward de Bono has had faculty appointments at the universities of Oxford, Dr de Bono has been invited to lecture in fifty-two countries and to address. Edward de Bono’s efforts as an advocate for lateral thinking and creative thinking as an essential skill for creativity and innovation have not gone without criticism. Robert Weisberg, a cognitive psychologist, argues that there is insufficient evidence for the effectiveness of.
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See discussions, stats, and author proﬁles for this publication at: https://www. myavr.info Creative and Lateral. HOME ABOUT LOG IN SEARCH CURRENT ARCHIVES Home > Issue > Chiaramonte Thinking for a Change: Interview with Edward de Bono Aur ora. The melancholy and other fluids. I CAPITULATE 6. The intention of thinking with six hats. I CAPITULATE 7. Six hats, six colors. CHAPTER 8. The white hat.
Are they? Absolutely not. Corporations hate new ideas. They really do because an idea is a risk to someone. Ideas divert people from whatever they are doing. We've got new corporate strategy divisions, but all they do is find targets for takeovers. A culture of innovation is very difficult to establish no matter what an organization says. If you get a product championed by an individual, it might happen: But not normally. What about the public sector? How can a progressive-thinking public administrator systematically seek opportunities?
That is difficult in a public institution because whenever you make a mistake, the press is on your back. If you do something good, they ask why you took so long. When you have just discovered how to do something better they ask why you've been wasting money for 20 years. So, the rewards and motivation for innovation are difficult, and the risks are high.
Also, you can't try things out. You can't say, "Okay, we're going to try this tax system this time, and if it doesn't work, we'll drop it. We need to ask how we can test things in public administration, how we can motivate and reward people, and so on. You have been convinced for some time that the business world uses thinking more than any other sector in the world.
What makes this sort of thinking different from that of the academic world? Well, in the business world there is a bottom line. You have got to sell things or your market share shrinks. If you set mortgage rates at 13 per cent while other people set them at 10 per cent, you've lost your market. So there is an intense pressure to engage in problem solving. And there are very definite results. In most other segments of society, including the academic world, it may be enough to defend your point of view.
If you are an economist and you write a good paper defending the idea that monetary theory is wonderful, that is all you are asked to do. This applies not only to the academic and political world but even to domestic life.
Take, for example, a husband and wife arguing; all they are doing is justifying themselves. What is preventing academics from teaching thinking?
Academics have not really begun to realize the importance of perception. Even in science, people still believe that if you analyse data, you will get ideas even though everyone says, "No, that is not true. People are still bogged down in finding truth and building arguments. The whole culture of academics is way behind.
I have much more hope for teachers and students at secondary and primary schools than I do for academics. Academics are highly intelligent people, so they are very good at defending their position, or dismissing something, or retreating into a corner and saying, "It doesn't affect me. Take, for example, free will, which is a cornerstone of our culture. What does free will actually mean in physiological terms?
If you understand that, free will means a very different thing. But if you are just talking about free will on an empirical phenomenological basis, you really won't get very far. A philosopher in the future has got to be an information theorist and a physiologist. You have said that the most dangerous fallacy in education is the belief that intelligence and thinking are the same thing. How do they differ?
An intelligent person scans quicker. He may cover four or five activity areas in the brain, while another person covers only two. You can test intelligence by such things as reaction times. There is a physiological component to intelligence, but how you use your intelligence is a matter of strategy. If you use your intelligence just to defend your point of view, you will do a good job of defending your point of view. But intelligence by itself is only a potential.
Now there we run into one of those silly difficulties with language, because we say everything that is right must be intelligent. Therefore, an intelligent person can't do anything stupid. Then you have reduced the word "intelligence" to mean nothing. You just mean that any good behaviour is intelligence, and if you have that wide a description, it means nothing. You have said that in order to succeed in today's highly competitive world, the business community needs schools and universities to graduate people who can not only solve problems and make decisions but who also can generate new knowledge.
Why are efficiency, new technology, and problem-solving no guarantee of success? Efficiency helps you slim down the organization by selling off operations, reducing your work force, and putting in automation. But gradually you come toward a baseline where everyone else is doing the same.
So you have no competitive edge. What is going to make a difference to your competitive position is your concepts or initiatives. People will still copy you and catch up, but you will have leadtime. That is the only area in which you can actually do something different from other people. I'm not saying efficiency and the other things aren't useful.
I'm saying it is like a stool with three legs. One leg is problem solving, one leg is efficiency, and the third is concept generation. How can we ensure that technology does not drive education? The use of a computer expands to equal the capacity of the computer; therefore, people may end up doing things that really do not need doing. Or they may do them in unnecessary detail because of the computer's power. So they say, let's simulate this, and let's modulate in five dimensions instead of using the computer as it is needed.
It is a danger. I would even state a rule of thumb: If it is all filled up, there is no gap, no margin. That is going to be seen by some as a terrible dilemma. It is like a university. You could also say that 20 per cent of university positions should be unfilled so if a good guy comes along you can hire him.
You can't say, "Wait five years; maybe one of our guys will die. Are universities becoming more like businesses and corporations more like universities? Certainly universities have become more like businesses in that they often have to raise funds in the market place, get paid for research, and all that sort of thing. At the senior level people spend something like 70 per cent of their time handling funds and administering things.
Are we getting better people from universities than the ones we send in? Sure, but only marginally so. One way to look at it is to ask if it would be better if those people hadn't gone to university. The answer is probably not. But do we get as much out of that allocation of their time and the national resources in going to university?
I would say absolutely not. In other words, given their time and given those resources, we could get much better people. You have written about the Japanese today and yesterday.
Many Canadians feel that now is the time to be making some kind of agreement with Japan rather than the United States.
I'll tell you what the Japanese are going to do.
At this point I seemed to have two choices: I could call the reception desk and feebly enquire how I might silence my clocks or I could throw the thing in a bucket of water. The moral of the story is that at no point did I pause even to consider whether there could be an alternative source of the noise. It seemed so obvious to me that it Ttmst be the radio clock that I had set, that I never set out to look for alternatives. Had I done so I could have saved myself a great deal of trouble.
There is a counterbalancing story. At a seminar of mine in Austraha a senior computer man seemed to be having a hard time appreciating the purpose of lateral thinking. After the coffee break on the second day he came to me with more enthusiasm.
What he said was this: I have aliirays opened one packet and then the other. Today, without apparently thinking about it, I found myself placing one packet on top of the other and making one opening operation. Much simpler.
Beyond the adequate There is a simple experiment which has worked for me every time I have tried it Two small boards are placed on the floor. Eadi has a hole in the end. On each board is a coiled piece of string. The task is to use the boards to cross the floor of the room in such a manner that no part of the body or clothing comes into contact with the ground.
Sometimes the thinker stands on one board and pushes out the other board ahead of him, moves to that board, retrieves the first board and pushes that further ahead. This sort of stepping-stones approach works but is slow. A more usual response is to use the string to tie one board to each foot and then to shuffle across the room as if on skis or snow- shoes. A rather better approach - which I have never seen used sponta- neously - is to forget about one of die boards. The string is tied to the front of the remaining board.
The thinker steps on to that board, uses the string to hold tlie board up against the soles of his feet, and hops across the room at a great rate. Contentment with an 'adequate' solution or approach is the biggest block there is to any search for a better alternative.
The inhabitants of a remote village pre-TV days know that the most beautiful girl in the village is the most beautiful girl in the world. They have no way of conceiving that there can be anyone more beautiful until after they have experi- enced that additional beauty.
So it often is in science, in industry, in government and in other areas. It is only through realisation of this and an act of will that we can set out to look for alternatives - knowing that in most cases we shall not find anything better, but still being willing to invest that thinking time.
This states quite simply that: A classic example of this is Darwin's theory of evolution. It is plausible and rational and better than anything else. It is also impossible to prove. Our proof for it rests on our lack of imagination in tliinking of a better mechanism. Similarly, we reject Lamarckian evolution because we cannot conceive how it could occur.
Part of Darwin's theory is a tautology: As to the mechanism of change, that could well happen in viruses or bacteria which go through generations several thousand times faster than animals. The change is xhcn transferred to the animal by genetic transference which we know can take place.
Or we might even have non-genetic evolution with chemical inducers and suppressors passed from mother to child in unbroken continuity this could lead to Lamarckianism. On the whole, adequate theories in science are the biggest block to progress. But to open the floodgates to all sorts of wild and woolly theories would be quite impractical. In practice in science, we stay with one hypothesis imtil we can reject it. Then we move on to a better one.
In order to reject the hypothesis we carry out experiments with which we actually hope to confirm it such is human nature and human ego needs. The fallacy with this approach is that the existing hypothesis deter- mines our perceptions and tihe sort of evidence diat we look for. Thus it often needs mistake, accident or chance to provide the intrusive evidence we could never have looked for when holding the orthodox h3rpothesis. So what should we do about it?
The simple answer is to change the idiom. Instead of just holding the best hypothesis we spend a lot of time generating alternatives - not in order to reject diem in fevour of the best one but to allow us to look at things more broadly. But scientists, like many others, have never been particularly concerned with the operations of thinking.
The three words are there in order to make APC pronounceable. In different situations one or odier word may seem more appropriate but no attempt should be made to distinguish between them. Doing an APC means making a deliberate effort to generate alternatives at that particular point.
There is no magic about it and at the same time there is a lot of effectiveness in it. It converts a general desire into a specific operating instruction or 'executive concept'. Do an APC on this. What possi- ble explanations might there be for this behaviour? Some starting alternatives arc given below. Try and add to them: In judging the behaviour of others, in trying to explain a swing in a political poll and in examining market behaviour, we need to create alternative explanations no matter how likely one of them may seem.
The search is not for the most likely but for the most likely and a number of others as well. Explanation is an area where it is only too easy to be trapped by the adequate.
Hypothesis Although men seem to be sitioking less, women seem to be smoking more. Do an APC on this and put forward some alterna- tive hypotheses as to why this might be.
There are times when an hypothesis is virtually the same as an explanation. On the whole an explanation refers to a single happening or instance, whereas hypothesis refers to some process or trend. Many of them complained that in New Zealand there were so many restrictions and regula- tions that it was difficult to pursue opportunities.
He welcomed the regula- tions by saying: Do an APC on this: Problems With problems, APC can be done at several points. This first is in the definition of the problem. The best definition of a problem can only be reached by finding the solution and then working back- wards to the definition.
But we can look for alternative definitions of i he problem. Do an APC on alternative definitions of the peak travel problem in city transport. When it comes to tackling the problem we can generate a number of different approaches instead of just searching for die best one from the start. Do an APC on approaches to the peak travel problem in cities: Finally, when we have an adequate solution to a problem, we can go beyond the adequate and search for difforent solutions.
The satisfaction of finding a solution at all makes us very unwiUing to look for another one. Besides, the other solution may be found by someone else!
Review A problem is something we are forced to trickle. In a review we need to make an effort of will to look again at something which is not a problem, which is going reasonably well, which does not demand attention.
We look at it, however, to see if the process could be simphfied or made more effective or more productive. This always involves seeing if there are other ways of carrying out the operation and also whether it needs to be done at all.
Do an 32 APC review style on the packaging of chocolate bars. In a sense it is much freer than problem-solving because, provided we achieve the purpose, we can use different approaches and diiferent styles. The important point here - as far as APC goes - is to realize when you are using alternatives which lie within the same general approach and when you really are using a totally diiikrent approach. Only too often, in my experience, a proposed alternative approach is only an alter- native within the same basic approach.
Do an APC on the design of a telephone. Decision Business schools and management training put a great deal of emphasis on nialdng decisions - as I shall do later in this book. The decision process itself will not produce these alternatives. We need to shift some emphasis away from the deciding between alternatives to the generating of alternatives. A competitor undercuts the price of the toilet rolls your company is selling.
You are asked to decide whether you should lower prices to match his. Do an APC on the alternatives available for your decision. Course of action I am told that there is an old Jewish saying which states that if there are two courses of action you should always take the third. As in decision making, this properly shifts the emphasis to the search for alternatives. Finding courses of action involves problem solving, design and decision making. Do an APC on the courses of action open to you if you invented a new children's game.
Decisions and plans made now are going to operate in the future. Investments made now are going to pay off in the fature. All future forecasting is based on the extrapo- lation of present trends. No matter how incorrect this method may be, there is no way anyone would ever be brought to beheve in a forecast derived in any other way. Yet we know there will be discontiniiittes and the future will not just consist of present trends carried forwards.
The best we can do is to generate alternative futures in a deliberate manner and allow them to enrich our perception even though we will never believe them until after they have happened. Science fiction performs a useful function in this respect. Do an APC on possible future scenarios for the entertain- ment industry. The above list of situations in which an APC nught be useful is not complete.
We should also look at negotiation, communication, opportmiity search, investment, planning and many other areas. Praetleallty Tliere are two common objections to the APC process. The first is that it is a waste of time and creates unnecessary work. The second is that too many alternatives create a dither of indecision. Both have some validity. The answer to the first objection is that there is no way of telling that the first answer to a problem is the best one imtil at least some effort has been made to find other answers.
Further alternatives in a decision situation do increase the work of deciding between them. That is just too bad. Anyone who does not like the work of decision making should get out of that job. The answer to the second objection is to be ruthless about practi- cal cut-ofife. Sir Robert Watson-Watt, the fedier of radar, apparendy had a saying: The designer who is forever changing the design makes production impossible.
CUT OFF The main point is that we should not be reluctant to look for alter- natives because we cannot conceive of anything better than what we have. Hie secondary point is diat we should not be afraid to look for alternatives for fear of the extra hassle they might cause.
Alternatives and creativity Without the willingness to look for alternatives we remain trapped in the past and in what we have always done before. If you generate alternatives you can always reject them if they do not seem superior to the existing way of doing diings. But if you never generate alter- natives you never have a choice. Generating alternii lives opens up possibilities. A tool that deliberately signals the need to look for alternatives is a key thinking tool.
We need it even more because the patterning nature of the mind seeks certainty - not alternatives. Try the following exercises: What are some alternative explanations? Give some possible explanations. What action alternatives should you consider? The roads are getting more and more crowded. What action alternatives could you consider?
What alternative approaches might there be? The main purpose of thinking is to abolish thinking. The mind worls to make sense out of confusion and uncertainty. The mind works to recognise in the outside world famihar patterns. As soon as such a pattern is recognised the mind switches into it and follows it along - fiirther thinking is unnecessary. It is not unlike driving a car. As soon as you hit a familiar road you can stop figur- ing it out from the map, using a compass, asking for directions or even reading road signs.
In a way, our thinking is a continuing search for these femiliar roads that make thinking unnecessary. But how are diese patterns formed and how does the mind use them? How does it affect our thi nkin g and what should we do about it?
In order to understand thinking we need to know something about how the mind works as an information processing system. This is what I intend to deal with in this section. I hope in this section to illustrate some aspects of how the mind works. Such an aware- ness is an important part of general thinkin g skill. On ray first day at Oxford I going off to a party in London, The college gates were closed at midnight and I knew that I would be back late.
So I asked one of the old hands about climbing back into college. He indicated that it was quite simple. Tliere was one wall to be cHmbed and then a second wall and then you jumped down from the top of the bicycle shed into the quadrangle.
I returned at about three in the morning and proceeded to climb the fiKt wall which was about fifteen feet in height I dropped down on the other side and proceeded until I came to the second wall, which was the same height.
I climbed the second wall and dropped down on the other side. It took quite a while to dawn on me that I was out in the meadow again: I started all over again. This time I was more careftil in escploring the second wall. I found an iron gate, which offered easier footholds, I climbed to the top of the gate which then swung slowly open: Eventually I got in. I I I was telling that story to a computer group when someone at the mectiiig said that he had a similar experience at the same place.
It seemed, however, that he had had somewhat more to drink. He climbed to the top of the wall, lost his balance and fell off. This did noi worry him too much. He got to his feet and proceeded to climb over the wall. Unfortunately he had Men off on the inside. So he found that he had indeed climbed out into the meadow. The mora! That moral is profoundly important for thinking. So we find that excellence in processing does not make up for inade- quacies of perception.
Perception is the way we look at things. Processing is what we do with that perception. In our thinking we have accepted three feUacies. The first is that it does not matter where you start i. The second is that from within the situa- tion, through the use of farther processiog, you can tell where you ought to have started. These three fallacies have made us concern ourselves with processing, for which we have developed such marvellous tools as mathematics. We have neglected the perception area because there did not seem to be much we could do about it.
Once we can take processing for granted then perception becomes even more important, because the way we look at a situation will determine what we can do about it. In practical Ufis most thinking takes place in the perception area: It is only in rather specialized situa- tions that we then have to proceed to elaborate processing.
In the future we shall be able to delegate more and more processing to computers. That leaves the perc: And we need to get very much better at it. My favourite illustration of the problem of perception is the oil and vinegar problem which 1 have used elsewhere as the wine and water problem.
You are about to make a salad dressing and have before you a glass of olive oil and a glass of wine vinegar. You take a spoonful of oil from the oil glass and pour it into the vinegar glass. You stir thoroughly and then take a spoonful of the mixture and put it back in the oil glass.
You stop at this point. Is there now more oil in the vinegar or vinegar in the oil, or what? It does not matter but we can suppose the spoon to be less than one-fifth the volume of the glass.
I wrote in an earlier book, The Use of Lateral Thinking, that it seemed to me there would be as much oil in the vinegar glass as vinegar in the oil glass. My publishers were highly sceptical of this assertion. After publication a logician wrote politely to point out my error.
The return spoonful was a spoonful of mixture and hence contained less vinegar than die first spoon had contained oil. So there should be more oil in the vinegar than vinegar in the oil. Hie logic seems impeccable. But the perception is faulty. The two spoonfuls are of equal volume. The lirst spoonful contains pure oil. But where has this small amount of oil come hrom? Obviously from the vinegar glass. But that glass contained no oil in the beginning.
So the little bit of oil must have done a round trip: It ends up where it started, so we can forget about it. If we now subtract this same amount of oil from both spoonfuls we must be left with equal volumes in ea di: So the exchange of oil and vinegar must be equal.
It matters not at all how much oil comes back. In fact it does not even matter if the oil is never stirred into the vinegar glass. There are many possible approaches to this problem. A particular- ly easy approach is shown below.
The numbei? If we made the stack higher we would really be adding the next odd number. All we now have to do is to cut a piece of the stack off and show how it fits round on die other side - so giving a square. This will always hold no matter how high the stack may be.
Both the above examples are intended to illustrate the differ-, ence between perception and processing. Perception is how we look at things in the first place.
Documents Similar To Edward De Bono - De Bono's Thinking Course (BBC Books)
Crossing the road The drawing below shows a noughts-and-crosses grid. If you start in any square and then proceed to any other square and then on to any further square and so on until all squares have been visited once , in how many different ways could you make the journey?
Some people say 27 and some say several hundred. The right number I think is no less than , This imexpectedly large number simply reflects the large numbers that occur in the mathe- matics of combination the number of ways in which different i 3 things can be put together. The task iras to arrange these 16 pieces to form a large square of a certain design. But the design did not emerge imtil aU the pieces had been placed in the right position - so there was no way of telling which piece ought to fit against which other piece.
Each small square had two feces: With this simple jigsaw of just 16 pieces it would take many million years to go through all the possible combinations - even if one piece was placed every second, day and night.
If we had to cross a road by analyzing all the information coming to us and trying it out in different ways it would take us more than a month just to get across. We do not take a month to cr ss the road because the mind does not work in that way. We cross the road in a suitable time because the mind is designed to be 'brilliantly uncreative'. If the mind was anything else it would be quite useless.
Pattern making The mind in perception provides a means whereby incoming information gets organized into a pattern - as suggested in the drawing below. We shall see shortly how this actually comes about. All that is required is enough informa- tion to trigger the pattern. So any vague movement along the road at a certain speed is instandy treated as an approaching vehicle. There is another important characteristic of the patterning stem of the mind. Unless there are competing patterns, then anything remotely similar to the established pattern will be treated just as if it were that pattern.
It is not unlike the watershed into a valley. Unless there is a competing valley, water which falls quite far away will end up at the centre of the valley. How patterns are formed A tray of sand is shown below.
A steel ball is dropped on to the surface of the sand at a specific point. The bail sinks into the sand and remains exactly at die point at which it was dropped. This is the same as making a pencil mark on a piece of paper at a certain point or changing the magnetism of a magnetic tape at a certain point.
The paper, the tape and the sand all carry a passive and accurate record of what has happened to them. We also have a tray into which is inserted a moulded plastic surface see opposite. Again we drop a steel ball on to the surface, just as we did for the sand. This time the ball does not stay where it has been dropped but roUs along until it reaches the bottom of the dip. No matter from where we dropped the ball it would always end up in this same position.
The incoming infonnation is altered or 'curved'. This is no longer a passive information system but an active one. We pass to the third tray in the drawing below.
Tliis contains a heavy viscous fluid covered by a stout membrane. A steel ball is dropped on to the surface. Gradually it sinks in. When it comes to rest the membrane is depressed to give an appearance similar to that in the plastic tray. If a farther steel ball is dropped on to the siirfncc it wtli roll down the slope and end up nestling against the first ball. Like the plastic surface tray, this Sascous' tray is an active information system.
In the plastic tray the contours were formed before the first ball arrived. In the viscous tray it is the first ball, itself, which forms the contours. In fact the viscous tray is an envi- ronment in which incoming information can organize itself into clusters. We can now move to anotlier model.
This time the passive surface is a towel laid on a table. There is a bowl of ink alongside. A spoonful of ink is taken from the bowl and poured on to the towel at some specific spot.
The ink leaves a stain at that spot. Hie process is repeated to give the final arrange- ment as shown here. The towel surface is an accurate and passive memory surfece. The bowl of ink is heated up. When a spoonfiii of hot ink is placed on the gelatine surfece it dissolves the gelatine. When die cooled ink and dissolved gelatine are poured off, a shallow depression remains on the surface of the gelatine. If a further spoonful is placed on the surface in the same position, as was done with the towel, then the hot ink will flow into the depression making it deeper.
The same thing will happen with the third and fourth spoonfuls. In both cases die first arriving information altered the surface.
This altered surface then affected the way in which further infor- mation was received. The gelatine model is more sophisticated because die information essentially 'organizes itself into a track or pattern'.
The nerve networks in the mind seem to work in a somewhat similar manner. How these interconnected nerve networks allow incoming information to organize itself into patterns is described in detail in The Mechanism of Mind. Those who want this further detail should read that book.
When I wrote The Mechanism of Mind in the ideas put forward in the book were rather unusual. Today, these ideas of self-organizing information systems have become mainstream thinking. Much more work has been done in the field.
In fact, the model I put forward in that book has been simulated on computer and does work as predicted. An xmderstanding of how the brain w orks is very important for the design of thinking tools.
Otherwise we are limited to describ- ing what seems to happen and then seeking to use descriptions as tools. This is the usual approach and it is far less effective than designing tools iirom an understanding of how the system works.
Edward De Bono
At tLis point it is enough to appreciate how 'active' information systems are different from our usual 'passive' systems. How such systems allow information to organize itself into patterns. We can now forget all about how the patterns come to be formed and treat them as channels, roads or tracks. The use off patterns The purpose of perception is to allow patterns to form and then to use them. As suggested earlier, the pxupose of thinking is to find the familiar pattern and so remove the need to think any more.
We can look at tius use of patterns imder a number of headings. Recognition When you are reading poor handwriting it may take a while to recognize a word. Then suddenly it becomes dear. With print we recognize the words so rapidly that we are hardly aware of this 'pattern recognition'. It is only when there is any difficulty for example, recognizing a famiUar voice over a bad telephone connec- tion that we become aware of the active process of recognition: Adults often take hours or days to work out the Rubik's cube puzzle.
Children can do it in minutes and the record is in the region of 25 seconds. Clearly this does not give much time for working things out. Pattern recognition is used. The recognition of a certain pattern triggers a course of action which in turn leads to another pattern, which triggers another course of action and so on to the end.
This pattern recognition is a most marvellous property of the human mind. It allows us to greet friends and to use languages. It allows us to eat and to live. The whole of conscious life is based upon it. In perception the entire effort is directed towards recog- nizing femiUar patterns. Someone has given this design to a carpenter and asked him to construct the cube.
The upper half is going to be made of one type of wood and the lower half of another type. TTie two halves are to be joined by proper dovetail joints as shown. The cube design looks exactly the same from the other side. The question is whether it would be possible for the carpenter actually to make up the cube.
Al first sight it would seem to be impossible. Wc imagine that the joint Hnes would run as shown below. It would be impossible to put the pieces together or to separate them if they had somehow been assembled. Using this pattern wc should reject the design. But the pattern is a wrong one, It is possible to make up the cube. It is also possible to separate the top half from the bottom half after the cube has been assembled.
Instead they run at an angle as shown overleaf. As a result the top half is easily sHd on to or off from the lower half. It is inevitable that in a pattern-recognizing system we should use the wrong pattern from time to time. It also follows that the fewer the patterns we have the more often are we going to use the wrong ones. Abstraction The mind is good at recognizing whole patterns, such as faces, leuers or words. It is also extremely good at abstracting or pulling out hidden patterns.
If you take eight random objects and put their names down as a list there is a very high likelihood that an observ- er would be able to divide those words into two groups of four by abstracting some pattern. Yet the words were chosen at random. Consider the list below: You can try this exercise with any eight random words. If you do it with an audience you may be surprised at the variety of patterns that are abstracted.
Are the abstracted patterns in the material or in the way we choose to look at it? They are triggered by the material and 6nally are checked against the material, but the patterns have to exist in our mind before we can use them. Grouping The process of grouping makes life very much easier. Instead of having to learn about every single car, we can group them all into the general group of 'cars' and for some pmposes like crossing the road , treat them all as similar.
Grouping and classification also allows us to make certain predictions about things. This was the basis of classical philosophy. AU we are really saying is that we expect certain clusters of properties to go together so that if we identify some properties we can predict the rest by using the established pattern. Science is based on a judicious mix of lumping and splitting. Analysis There are really two sorK of analysis. In the first sort we strive to break down a complex situation into familiar and recognizable patterns.
We suppose that these elements have actually come together to produce the situation: The second type of analysis is more like explanation.
We look to see what femiliar patterns we can recognize in the situation but never suppose that they are the actual components of the situation. This last sort is very close to abstraction. Chinese science was quite far advanced long before science developed in the West. Then the theorists got to work and created all sorts of explanations: Science died, lliis was the explanation type of analysis.
Western science has tried to follow the 'component' type of analysis and has eschewed the hobglobin approach. The dilemma is that too many concepts stag- nate a subject because everything is possible and too few concepts stagnate a subject because evidence is led by concepts.
Awareness We need to be aware of the huge importance of the perception part of thinking. We need to be aware that in perception the mind works as a self-organizing information system active system which allows incoming experience to organize itself into patterns. This is a marvellous system which allows us to make sense of the world.
Without it Hfe would be impossible. We need to be stmic that the purpose of thinking is to search for these familiar patterns and then to stop thinking as we race along them. We need to be aware that we may often lock into the vnrong pattern. Our experience forms certain concepts, patterns and organizations. We follow along this pattern. In order to progress we may have to backtrack and change to another pattern which is more appropriate for the conditions. But we have no mechanisms for this backtracking or changing patterns.
So progress is excruciatingly slow.
This is the sort of progress that we get in the social area as contrasted with the tech- nical area. It is no one's fault. That is the way our minds work.
That is the way organizations work. They are summaries of the past, not designs for the future. This slower type of progress is illustrated here. This allows us to make sense of the world and to live. Without such a system, life would be impossible.
The main purpose of the brain is to be brilhantly uncreative. And so it should be. But from time K time a change of pattern is required. TTiis is difficult because we do not really have any mechanisms for doing this.
In the pohtical sense we have the extraordinarily wasteful and inefficient 'clash' system. In science and tfiought we have tended also txj use this method - for lack of anything better. In medicine most of the major discoveries have come about through chance observation, accident or mistake.
This is hardly surprising because, in a system as complex as the body, systematic search is not possible. It is difficult to see what other mechanisms there could be. Working within existing patterns will not itself lead to new patterns. Humour is probably the most significant characteristic of the human mind.
It tells us much more about how the system works than anything else. Reason tells us very Utde and we can devise reasoning systems with pebbles, beads on an abacus, cogwheels or electronics. Below, I have drawn a major track or pattern and a side track. It is a characteristic of patterning systems that as we move along the main track the side track is, for the moment, inaccessible for an explanation of this see my book The Mechanism of Mind.
So we go shooting past along the main track. In the pun type of humour the double meaning of a word is used as the pattem-switciiing device to force us along the side track.
Edward de Bono
Consider the following puns: He was only given three golf clubs. What is worse only two of them had swimming pools. In this mechanism we are taken to an apparently unreasonable point and suddenly see our way back. For example: The young man began to search frantically for his ticket: After a while the inspector took pit ' on him and extracted the ticket from the young man's mouth where it had been all along. Art One of the purposes of art is to help us stock our mind with further patterns.
Art crystallizes patterns of experience so that we can absorb them without having had to Hve through and learn them by a slow process of induction. Art can also give us a range of experience we would never otherwise have had. In a sense art is an accelerated life macliine. Exercise It is a useful habit to stand back and then to try to pick out the patterns that seem to be in use in certain situations. For instance, in much psychotherapy the pattern is still Freudian: In education the pattern is that it is enough to provide information and then wWow the mind to acquire thinking habits as it deals with that information.
In poUtics it is the adversary system in which opposing parties claim the tightness of their ideologies and seek electoral permission to impose that ideology on everyone. As an exercise, try to pick out the basic patterns diat prevail in the ibllowing areas: The word has now become part of the English language and is in wide use.
This is because there was a real need to have a way of describing the sort of thinking that was concerned with changing perceptions and concepts. It covers artistic e3q ression and all sorts of things which have little to do with changing perceptions and concepts. Lateral thinking can also be a deliberate and formal process for which there are tools. Tliere are two types of progress. One is fest, the other is very slow. The first type of progress is illustrated below.
We are going along and a technical input or an idea allows us to move faster. Another input accelerates our progress even iurther - and so on. There are people alive today who were born before the first aero- plane flew.
So were the other passengers on Concorde. Extraordinary progress in a very short time. Hiat also is amazing progress. We switch to a new pattern and suddenly see that something is reasonable and obvious. In hindsight any creative idea must be logical - otherwise we could never accept it as having value. The mistake we make is to assume that since it is logical in hindsight then the better exer- cise of logic could have got us there in the first place.
This mistiike is only made by people who do not understand the nature of patterning systems.
Patterning systems are necessarily asymmetric - otherwise they would be quite useless. In the figure below the route fix m A to B is very different fi: The purpose of lateral thinking is to provide a more deliberate means for pattern-switching than relying on mistake or accident. Lateral thinkin g seeks to achieve the pattem-switxJiing that occurs in insight The reason we have not paid serious attention to creativity is given by this 'hindsight logic'.
Since we have always been looking at passive systems we have never really seen the mathemat- ical necessity for creativity that there is in any self-organizing information system.
Creativity and lateral thinking I am often asked why it was necessary to invent the term 'lateral thinking' when the word 'creativity' seemed quite adequate. That may be why the term 'lateral thinking' is now included in the Oxford English Dictionary. A creative person may have a way of looking at the world which is different from the way odier people see the world, as illustrated below. If that person is successful in expressing and communicating his own special perception, then we call him or her creative and value the contribution that takes some of us to see the world through a new perspective.
We acknowledge the creativity. But that person may be locked into that special perception: Thus many creative people are actually 'rigid' at the same time. This does not at all diminish their value to society and their abiHty to create within their special perception.
But in 'lateral thinking' I am interested in the abihty to change perception and to keep on changing percep- tion. Clearly such people are indeed creative but not lateral 54J thinkers. Some creative people are both. If a youngster of about nine is given a problem, he may well come np with a highly original solution since he is not trapped within the conventional approach.
So his approach is creative and original. But that same youngster may be reluctant to look for, and unable to find, a differ- ent approach. So he is creative and original and also rigid. Lateral thinking can be precisely defined as pattern-switching within a patterning system. To explain the nature of a patterning system takes quite a long time. So in ordinary terms we can describe it as the ability to look at things in different ways.
Grandma is knitting and young Susie is disturbing Grandma by playing with the ball of wool. The fether suggests putting Susie in the play-pen. The mother suggests that it might make more sense to put Grandma in the play-pen - a different way of looking at things which is quite logical in hindsight. Lateral thinking as process Another difficulty with the word 'creativity' is that it is a value judgement.
No one has ever called a new idea which he or she personally did not like, 'creative'. Lateral thinking is a neutral process.
Sometimes we use it and come up with nothing at all. Sometimes we use it and come up with a good idea but one that is no better than the existing idea. Sometimes occasionally we use it and come up with a new idea that is much better than the existing one. In all three cases we are using lateral thinking.
IntelHgent people often tend to be conformists. They learn the rules of the game and make use of them to have a comfortable life. At school they learn the rules of the game: Creativity tends to be left to the rebels who cannot or will not play the rules for a variety of reasons. The paradox is that if we treat creativity in the form of lateral thinking as a perfectly sober part of information processing then we may get the strange effect of the conformists being more creative than the rebels - because the conformists are also better at playing the rules of creativity.
If creativity is no longer a risk then non-risk takers may decide to be creative. Lateral thinking is both an attitude of mind and also a number of defined methods.
It involves an understanding of how the mind uses patterns and the need to escape from an established pattern in order to switch intxi a better one. There is no mystique about it. Judgement and provocation In my seminars I often use a drawing of the strange wheelbarrow shown below.
I ask the audience to write down, individually, five comments on the design.
Invariably die comments criticise the design: The low figure shown for the yoimgsters reflected two things: The 'interested' comments were many and varied: In order to operate a patterning system we do have to use judgement. We use judgement for recognition and identification as we saw in die last section. We use judgement to find out which pattern we are using. So all the negative comments of the adults were based on dieir proper use of judgement. That is why the teachers got a somewhat higher score than the others.
I believe that people ought to use judgement. Without it we could not get by.
A patterning system camiot work without the use of judgement. But we also need to create another idiom. This is the idiom of 'movement'. So we use judgement for staying within existing channels but are also able to use 'movement' when we want to change patterns.
It is no different firom having different gears in your car. You use one gear for starting, another for cruis- ing, a third for reversing.
So, in our thinking we ought to be able to use judgement when we want to and movement when we want to. That is what the 'skill' of thinking is all about. The figure below illustrates what we mean by 'movement'. This means using it as a stepping stone to help us move to a different pattern. It means using it to see where it will lead to, what it might suggest. It is not that we treat a bad idea as a good idea. It is that we are operating outside the judgement system, and irrespective of whether the idea is good or bad we want to use it for its movement value.
Movement value is 'provocation'. It is derived from such words as: The syllable 'po' is in all these. Also all these words describe the 'forward use' of an idea: In all these cases the idea is put forward to see what effect it will have on our thinking. In a sense tliey arc all provocative rather than descriptive situations. Why do we need po? Simply as an indication to omselves and to others that, for the moment, we are operating in the 'move- ment' system and not in the 'judgement" system.
There is no magic about it. Like any notation it is designed for convenience. It is not a matter of suspending judgement or being unwilling to judge. It is a matter of operating outside the judgement system.
The best definition of provocation is as follows: There may not be a reason for saying something until after it has been said'.
On one occasion we were considering the problem of traffic parking in a small town where commuters tended to park in the centre and so block the -"aces that would otherwise be used by shoppers.
Parking meters could have solved the problem. We 58j wanted a simpler solution. From this came the notion that anyone could park anywhere for as long as he or she liiced - provided the headUghts were left on. So parking would be self-limiting. In a way this idea could be applied in towns with meters.
If you left your headlights on you would be indicating that you were only there for a few minutes and so would not need to pay the meter fee. This would give a greater turn-over of meter spaces. On another occasion the problem was river pollution by fecto- ries sited along the river. Tlie further down river you were, the greater the pollution of the water reaching you.It is not that we treat a bad idea as a good idea. They would go on strike.
That is what makes the PMI so important a tool: Another girl in a different part of the countryside looks towards the north and sees the same church spire. You have said that the most dangerous fallacy in education is the belief that intelligence and thinking are the same thing. Lateral thinking can be precisely defined as pattern-switching within a patterning system.
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