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Creative and Lateral Thinking: Edward de Bono

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Abstract

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 lateral thinking and that the creative process is better described as a process of logical thinking, trial and error, feedback, and reflection. Another criticism is that his description of traditional Western thinking overemphasizes the more extreme forms of adversarial argument apparent in some traditional methods of classroom practice, assuming that all Western philosophical thinking is necessarily adversarial. An alternative view of Socrates is that the purpose of his method of philosophical inquiry was to show people how to think for themselves rather than to destroy another person’s argument for the sake of proving one’s own position. Indeed, other thinking frameworks, such as Philosophy for Children, founded on nonadversarial conceptions of philosophy, also employ the deliberate teaching of skills to encourage creative and divergent thinking. This raises a further criticism of de Bono that while he has been highly successful in gaining the attention of a wide readership, his contributions are not particularly original in substantive content but are restatements of the previously developed concepts of “convergent thinking” and “divergent thinking” without historical or scholarly attention given to key figures in the field of critical thinking and creativity in which he is situated.
Encyclopedia of Educational
Theory and Philosophy
Creative and Lateral Thinking: Edward de
Bono
Contributors: Gilbert Burgh
Edited by: D. C. Phillips
Book Title: Encyclopedia of Educational Theory and Philosophy
Chapter Title: "Creative and Lateral Thinking: Edward de Bono"
Pub. Date: 2014
Access Date: June 18, 2016
Publishing Company: SAGE Publications, Inc.
City: Thousand Oaks,
Print ISBN: 9781452230894
Online ISBN: 9781483346229
DOI:
http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781483346229.n86
Print pages: 187-188
©2014 SAGE Publications, Inc.. All Rights Reserved.
This PDF has been generated from SAGE Knowledge. Please note that the
pagination of the online version will vary from the pagination of the print book.
Edward de Bono is renowned for his criticism of logical, linear, and critical thinking and
for his range of thinking techniques to facilitate potential creative abilities that
emphasize thinking as a learnable skill and deliberate act. He originated the concepts
of lateral thinking (literally sideways thinking) and parallel thinking to distinguish the
many techniques for deliberative creative thinking that he has developed from what he
considers to be normal perceptions regarding creativity and innovation.
De Bono (1994) draws attention to traditional critical thinking as a judgmental and
adversarial process and compares it with parallel thinking, which he claims emphasizes
cooperative and coordinated thinking. Critical thinking, he says, has its foundations in a
method of philosophizing, known as the Socratic method, first used by the ancient
Greek philosopher Socrates and developed further by Plato and Aristotle (whom
together de Bono calls the “Gang of Three”). However, his contention is that the
Socratic method is focused on discovering the truth and uses adversarial techniques
such as refutation of opposition, which rests on is/is not, true/false, either/or
dichotomies—a form of argumentation in which contradictory claims are argued to
strengthen one side’s argument and diminish the opposing position. In practice, each
interlocutor takes a different position and points out contradictions to attack the other
position in order to prove the other side wrong and, consequently, force a judgment.
De Bono claims that this form of argumentation, which for him is synonymous with the
Socratic method, pervades Western thought and that it is “intrinsically fascist in nature”
due to its appeal to adversarial thinking. He does not deny a place for the Socratic
method but rather argues that it has deep-seated inadequacies no longer able to deal
with the kind of radical change that has become a feature of the modern world. It is not
so much the search for truth that is required for the increasing complexity of
contemporary societies but the development of creative and more effective approaches
to problem solving. Subsequently, he introduced the term
parallel thinking to describe
what he considers to be a fundamentally different method of thinking; not only does it
reject the adversarial framework in favor of a cooperative model for thinking, but it
emphasizes possibility and “designing forward” from the “field of parallel possibilities”
by placing claims in parallel instead of in opposition to each other. To use de Bono’s
preferred terms, useful outcomes are obtained by “design” rather than by “judgment.”
De Bono has many formal techniques that can be deliberately applied to teach
structured, parallel thinking. His most notable technique, lateral thinking, aims at
restructuring thought patterns from which new combinations can arise. De Bono
assumes that lateral thinking is the basis of insight and creativity because it is for
changing concepts and perceptions and, therefore, is most effective prior to the use of
traditional methods of vertical or logical thinking. Its value lies especially in problem
solving since it generates alternatives, challenges previously held assumptions, and
develops innovative thinking. He argues that thinking can be more effective through
direct teaching of thinking as a skill rather than through resisting habitual thinking
patterns. In doing so, de Bono makes a distinction between thinking and intelligence
and places emphasis on the development of
metacognitive
thinking skills. Accordingly,
it is necessary to be conscious of how we think, for new thoughts “can be applied only if
one is aware of one’s own thinking or thought processes, and understands new thinking
techniques” (Burgh, 2005, p. 26).
De Bono has developed formal techniques for deliberate creative thinking, which can
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be contrasted to coping or reactive thinking strategies. The latter can function only when
there is something to react against; it does nothing to produce proposals. Deliberate
creative thinking, on the other hand,
focuses attention on what he calls mapmaking—a
type of thinking that requires a certain detachment.
De Bono’s largest curricular program is the Cognitive Research Trust (CoRT) Thinking
Program. It uses strategies, called attention-directing tools or devices for generating
ideas, to direct the attention of students to aspects of situations that might have
otherwise been neglected before they make decisions. Some of the techniques used in
CoRT are as follows: PMI (Plus, Minus, Interesting); CAF (Considering All Factors);
C&S (Consequences and Sequel); AGO (Aims, Goals, Objectives); FIP (First Important
Priorities); APC (Alternatives, Possibilities, Choices); and OPV (Other Point of View).
The main aim of the CoRT thinking lessons is to improve planning and decision
making. By employing the attention-directing tools of CoRT, students apply the skill of
operacy, a term coined by de Bono to describe action thinking, which he maintains
ranks alongside literacy and numeracy.
Another use of attention-directing tools is the Six Thinking Hats that de Bono designed
for teaching structured parallel thinking with groups of participants. The Six Hats
supposedly represent every basic type of thinking. Each hat has a different color that
provides the name for the hat as well as its related function. The white hat suggests
neutrality and objectivity. The red hat deals with emotional views, feelings, hunches, and
intuitions. The black hat represents the devil’s advocate. The yellow hat covers hope
and positive thinking. The green hat expresses creativity and new ideas. The blue hat is
concerned with thinking about thinking, the organization of the thinking process, and the
use of the other hats. Throughout the discussion, hats are used and exchanged,
although it is not necessary that people always consciously use one hat or another.
The purpose of the Six Hats is to provide a tangible way of translating intention into
performance by simplifying and unscrambling thinking so that the thinker can deal with
one mode at a time. It was also designed to allow a switch in modes of thinking by
deliberately putting on a particular metaphorical hat depending on which mode of
thinking is required. De Bono contends that the artificiality of the thinking hats provides
a formality and a convenience for requesting a certain type of thinking either by oneself
or by others. Each thinker follows exclusively the mode of thinking indicated by the hat
that is being used. The metaphorical use of the thinking hats also establishes rules for
the game of thinking, and anyone involved in the game will be aware of these rules. The
Six Thinking Hats framework, therefore, provides a process that can be self-monitoring.
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 lateral thinking and that the creative process is better described as a
process of logical thinking, trial and error, feedback, and reflection. Another criticism is
that his description of traditional Western thinking overemphasizes the more extreme
forms of adversarial argument apparent in some traditional methods of classroom
practice, assuming that all Western philosophical thinking is
necessarily
adversarial.
An alternative view of Socrates is that the purpose of his method of philosophical
inquiry was to show people how to think for themselves rather than to destroy another
person’s argument for the sake of proving one’s own position. Indeed, other thinking
frameworks, such as Philosophy for Children, founded on nonadversarial conceptions
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[Page iv]
Page 2 of 3 Encyclopedia of Educational Theory and Philosophy
of philosophy, also employ the deliberate teaching of skills to encourage creative and
divergent thinking. This raises a further criticism of de Bono that while he has been
highly successful in gaining the attention of a wide readership, his contributions are not
particularly original in substantive content but are restatements of the previously
developed concepts of “convergent thinking” and “divergent thinking” without historical
or scholarly attention given to key figures in the field of critical thinking and creativity in
which he is situated.
See also
Critical Thinking
;
Metacognition
;
Socrates and Socratic Dialogue
Gilbert Burgh
http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781483346229.n86
10.4135/9781483346229.n86
Further Readings
de Bono, E. (1994). Parallel thinking: From Socratic thinking to de Bono thinking.
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: Penguin Books.
Burgh, G. (2005). From Socrates to Lipman: Making philosophy relevant. In D.
Shepherd (Ed.), Creative engagements: Thinking with children (pp. 25–31). Oxford,
England: Inter-Disciplinary Press.
Moseley, D., Baumfield, V., Elliott, J., Gregson, M., Higgins, S., Miller, J., & Newton, D.
(2005). De Bono’s lateral and parallel thinking tools. In D. Moseley (Ed.),
Frameworks
for thinking. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Weisberg, R. W. (1993). Creativity: Beyond the myth of genius (
2nd ed.
). New York, NY: W. H. Freeman.
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[Page iv]
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... Lateral thinking, according to Bono, is the process of using the information to spark creativity and transform perceptions through restructuring. Lateral thinking generates the notion that simultaneously divergent and convergent thinking should be carried out (Phillips, 2014). It involves the development of numerous ideas and then selecting the best of them. ...
... Lateral thinking trains the student to be brave to walk in a different path from others (Aydemir, 2021). Students need to move out of their current zone; as Bono stated, "you cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging the same hole deeper" (Phillips, 2014). Mustofa and Hidayah (2020)show that applying Problem Based Learning can increase students' thinking skills because students memorize information and present their ideas, defend, and revise what they need. ...
Article
Several conceptions of convergent and divergent thinking are being compared to determine the superior one. However, lateral thinking has emerged, blending convergent and divergent thinking whose potentials impact High Order Thinking Skills (HOTS). This conceptual writing aimed to describe the practice of lateral thinking skills in ELT situations. Furthermore, its role in promoting HOTS was discussed, especially in modern classrooms. A library research design was used to gather primary data through literature reviews. The examinations were done qualitatively; triangulated for more reliability and compelling. The findings reveal that lateral thinking is most commonly delivered on a problem-based learning model, which might be utilized to encourage students to think beyond the box in the future. Lateral thinking is also adaptable and applicable in various settings and courses. It is anticipated that practicing lateral thinking in the modern classroom would significantly impact students' problem-solving skills, discover new solutions, create discoveries and breakthroughs. It is highly suggested that both teachers and students employ lateral thinking to ensure that HOTS is trained to its full potential.
... Concerning the degree of ingenuity, the distinctions between innovation and creativity, the two terms are almost the same or even blurred. As far as finding new ways of doing things goes, it is ideation to the process of ideation is concerned, we might as well use the same formula as previously suggested by Edward de Bono: concept creation = idea generation (Burgh, 2014). The first step through the process of creativity is to define a particular challenge. ...
Article
Any design challenge could be solved by identifying systemic complexity in the issue before following any problem-solving process. Designers approach problems in different forms but historically worked effectively to build a template or phase sequence. The design process can be used by designers virtually in any project which plays a crucial role in designing innovative architectural projects for many architects. Many studies were conducted to analyze, review, compare and recommend several creative approaches to problem management that allow designers to recognize their work and propose new solutions. However, there are not many studies on the stages to follow to undergo a comprehensive design process in architecture. This study aims to review the various stages involved in the design process. Firstly, it addresses the conceptualization phase of design critically examining the creativity and ideation process with creative and strategic thinking. Secondly, it discusses the representation of the design process expressing through storyboards and animatic, computer-aided design and building information modeling, and virtual reality and augmented environments. Thirdly, it discusses design assessment stage where the techniques for assessment of creativity in design and simulation for analyzing users’ perspective is explained. In the conclusions of the paper, a discussion has been made on an inter-relationship between the various stages in the design process and its relevance for a comprehensive understanding of the architectural integrative design process to address any design challenge both as a studio project for architecture students or in live projects by the practicing architects.
... iii. Gaps in current research the study aimed to address Despite many hundreds of thousands of adults being trained world-wide since the first de Bono authorised course was established over 25 years ago, there is a paucity of rigorous studies focusing on the correct use of these tools by groups or work teams within the context of business organisations (Burgh 2014 After comprehensive investigation by the Researcher of academic databases focusing on research within the fields of business, business and innovation, organisational development, business leadership and management and more particularly work teams and work team occasions, prior to conducting the study presented in this Thesis; during the study and during the write-up of the Getting-On-The-Same-Page Theory in this Thesis, it is apparent there is a significant paucity of rigorous academic research on the utilisation of de Bono's thinking tools by work teams in a business organisation context. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
Edward de Bono’s thinking tools have been utilised world-wide by work teams for at least three decades. Over this period there has also been extensive research focusing on work team effectiveness, because work teams are intrinsic to the operation of 21st century business organisations. Despite widespread use of de Bono’s tools however, there is a paucity of quality research focusing on the correct use of these tools by work teams. The purpose of the study presented in this Thesis was to explore the correct utilisation of de Bono’s thinking tools by work teams within business organisations. The problem investigated was the main concern of people who correctly use de Bono’s tools during work team occasions. Their main concern being, the emotional stress they feel each time they perceive particular types of cognitive interplay, that indicate to them a work team is not-on-the same-page, because no one is utilising de Bono’s tools. The Getting On-The-Same-Page Theory is presented in this Thesis as a classic grounded theory explaining how this concern is resolved. The core variable of the theory is the cognitive capability process of getting-on-the-same-page. This process has three stages, Tooling-Up, Tensing and Enabling. Tooling-Up starts when bettering is activated at the time someone is introduced to the tools and changes in their cognitive capability commence with structuring, which occurs each time they utilise the tools. Tensing commences with distinguishing and a user perceiving polarising, powering, holding-back and/or bouncing around in contrast to collective purposing, collective aligning and collective equalising. The former being types of cognitive interplay that indicate to a user a work team is not-on-the-same-page because de Bono’s tools are not being utilised, the latter being types of cognitive interplay that indicate a work team is on-the-same-page because the tools are being utilised. Enabling occurs when taking-it-on emerges and a user commits to helping people in business organisations to get-on-the-same-page, by helping them utilise de Bono’s tools during work team occasions. Empirical data for the study was collected through interviews and observation of nine work teams, in six business organisations, utilising de Bono’s tools for periods ranging between six weeks to at least four months. Data was analysed and collected while adhering to the tenets of classic grounded theory methodology. The Getting On-The-Same Page Theory contributes to both theory and praxis, including theory focusing on work team cognition, conflict and cohesion.
... The main objective of a CoRT lesson is to improve planning and make a decision. By utilizing the CoRT attention directing tool, students apply their operational skill, a term introduced by De Bono to illustrate action thinking besides literacy and calculation (Burgh, 2014). ...
... The condition of students actually wants learning that requires the use of their thinking to solve problems with diverse solutions. Edward de Bono originated the concepts of lateral thinking (literally sideways thinking) and parallel thinking to distinguish the many techniques for deliberative creative thinking that he has developed from what he considers to be normal perceptions regarding creativity and innovation (Burgh, 2016). Lateral thinking has positive relation with academic achievement, it fits More & Jagadesh, (2017) with the conclusion that all the five dimensions of lateral thinking ability is positively correlated with academic achievement. ...
Article
Full-text available
This study aims to investigate problems concerning water-drinking habits among children, ongoing efforts to resolve these problems, limitations in these ongoing efforts and recommended ideas to overcome these limitations. The TRIZ approach was used primarily to identify the root causes of the main problem and establish technical contradictions in order to steer the researchers to specific solution models. The solution models generated from the 40 inventive principles of TRIZ were used to recommend ideas that could potentially resolve the technical contradictions. The recommended ideas were then substantiated with existing research, concepts or analogies in order to authenticate their practicalities with regard to the study’s aim. The inventive principles extracted include the universality, preliminary action and segmentation principles. The principles used allowed the proposal of inventive design recommendations at the end of the study. For instance, based on the segmentation principle, the idea to improve water-drinking habits among children can be in the form of a water bottle that is compartmentalised into two parts; the top part being the containment unit for the water and the bottom part being the storage section for a reward beverage (perhaps a sweet drink such as orange juice or syrup). The compartmentalised water bottle idea would entice children to completely consume the water in the bottle before accessing the reward beverage. Although further research and verifications are still required, the proposed ideas can serve as precursory recommendations for researchers and designers in their pursuits to improve the water-drinking habits among children in future.
Chapter
This chapter introduces the research on rule-breaking market behavior. It includes the relevance of the phenomenon; the objectives and research questions; and an outline of the methodological approach.
Chapter
Full-text available
There is a widespread view that philosophical thinking has no application to matters pertaining to the 'real world'. It follows from such reasoning that if the purpose of education is to prepare students for the real world, then philosophy has no place in schools or university courses, and by implication in everyday life. One of the aims of this paper is to illustrate that the reasoning behind this view is mistaken. The ability to think critically and creatively through philosophical inquiry provides an intellectual context for study and discussion of issues related to all areas of study. But the introduction of philosophy into the classroom is not without its critics. This paper, therefore, explores a major accusation aimed at philosophy, i.e., that it is necessarily adversarial. The final section of the paper argues that Matthew Lipman's approach to philosophical inquiry 2 offers much to remedy the more adversarial and limiting elements of the Western philosophical tradition. It is clear that we should not simply aim to reproduce traditional methods of doing philosophy in the classroom. The community of inquiry is an illustration of a positive direction in respect to participation, relatedness and relevance to those involved.
Parallel thinking: From Socratic thinking to de Bono thinking
  • E Bono
Bono, E. (1994). Parallel thinking: From Socratic thinking to de Bono thinking. Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: Penguin Books.
De Bono's lateral and parallel thinking tools
  • D Moseley
  • V Baumfield
  • J Elliott
  • M Gregson
  • S Higgins
  • J Miller
  • D Newton
Moseley, D., Baumfield, V., Elliott, J., Gregson, M., Higgins, S., Miller, J., & Newton, D. (2005). De Bono's lateral and parallel thinking tools. In D. Moseley (Ed.), Frameworks for thinking. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
See alsoCritical Thinking
See alsoCritical Thinking; Metacognition; Socrates and Socratic Dialogue Gilbert Burgh http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781483346229.n86