625 � Current Issues

October 20, 1999















Edward de Bono
















Submitted to: Dr. Gerard Puccio

Submitted by: David González


Dr. Edward de Bono makes things happen. He's made a lot of things happen � he's a universal change maker. Strategic planners in the advertising world praise Dr. de Bono's work and base many of their ideation models off of his approach to creative problem solving and creative thinking. I never really took the time to study up on this creativity man, but felt myself drawn to what he represents. After much investigation, I find myself completely identifying with many de Bonian concepts and forms of thinking, including the following:

"There are highly intelligent people who are poor thinkers. Intelligent people may use their thinking to simply defend a point of view. The more skilled they are at mounting a convincing defense, the less they see a need to explore that subject, listen to others, or generate alternatives. This is poor thinking" (Wiesendanger, 1991, p. 73).

I like it. The above is powerful and makes sense. I also enjoy de Bono's thought of "If you never change your mind�why have one?" Knowing that he has created a mammoth commercial enterprise worth millions, I feel that many consider de Bono as a lofty creativity "expert" who has made a quick buck teaching people how to think. And there are those who are following his every step as we enter the new millennium. I shall unveil the truth�the real scoop. Where would the world and category of creativity be without such a champion?



Born in Malta in 1933, Edward de Bono's background is in medicine and psychology. As a Rhodes scholar at Oxford, Dr. de Bono has held appointments at the Universities of Oxford, London, Cambridge and Harvard. A lecturer in over 52 countries, Dr. de Bono has written over 60 books with translations into over 35 languages and has made two television series that have been shown around the world. Moreover, his new movie, 2040, is about the possible outcome of being frozen today and awakened 45 years later (Advanced Practical Thinking & Training, 1999, Online). Dr. de Bono's client roster ranges from Microsoft, IBM, Du Pont, Prudential, AT&T, British Airways and Federal Express to the Minister of Education in Kuwait, Academy of Sciences in Moscow, Education Commission of the States, Research Board and the United Nations to name a few. (De Bono, 1994, p. ix).

The response to Edward de Bono's work has run the gamut � it has tapped an unusually wide spectrum of audiences. His awards and accolades are many. They too come from all over the world, be it from government, politics, and international forums and task forces or international corporations and educational systems. Dr. de Bono is one of few in the field of creativity who can be said to have had a major impact on the way we think � rather than on what we think. Many consider this man to be the best-known thinker alive (Edward de Bono's Web, 1999, Online).


A firm believer that thinking is a skill which can be learned and improved, de Bono has been able to take a misperceived "mystical " and/or "unknown" subject and industry such as creativity and creative problem solving and place it on solid ground. Edward de Bono's vision, pursuit and primary concern is to improve and better our thinking in order to design a better future. De Bono feels that without creativity, competence becomes a commodity (personal communication, October 15, 1999). Ronald Gross (1990) describes de Bono's focus in four statements:

"The future is ours to shape if we approach it intelligently, creatively, and positively. We must work to improve our capacity to cope with our lives and our world rather than rely upon supernatural control and guidance. We must use human intelligence and creativity � our greatest resources � to the utmost. We must consider and devise new ways of thinking and acting" (p. 13).

Dr. de Bono has been lumped into what is known as the pragmatic approach to the study of creativity. His focus is on seeking actionable results. According to Sternberg and Lubart (1999, p. 5) "He's been considered the foremost proponent of this approach and his work has had what appears to be considerable commercial success. Edward de Bono is concerned with practice, not with theory."


In a telephone interview with Dr. de Bono (October 15, 1999), he summarized his stance on research as - "I'm more concerned about action-research�I deal in real life scenarios and have plenty of measurable, success stories. Too much academic research is too far removed from the real world and it's unrealistic and lacks objectivity." Moreover, de Bono specifically had this to say about measurability:

"It's not really an interest of mine to publish work and case studies that demonstrate measurability and results, although it certainly exists, or have to justify my work among academia. Research tends to be so artificial�nobody has ever been able to prove that literature, history or mathematic classes have prepared people for society. The skills of action are every bit important as the skills of knowledge. We neglect them completely and turn out students who have little to contribute to society".

Edward de Bono is known, worldwide, primarily for his concept and tools of lateral thinking, introduced in his book New Think in 1967. After having received such widespread acceptance, the term lateral thinking now appears in the Oxford English Dictionary, credited to de Bono and defined as "a way of thinking which seeks the solution to intractable problems through unorthodox methods, or elements which would normally be ignored by logical thinking (Gross, 1990, p. 14). Lateral thinking is to contrast and go beyond the rational thinking process to help change directions, concepts and perceptions. De Bono uses the analogy of digging a hole deeper and deeper as opposed to digging many holes. The devices of lateral thinking stimulate flexibility and provide a willingness to look at things in a different way (Torrance, 1999, p. 80).

Another major work by de Bono � parallel thinking, better known through his book Six Thinking Hats, is best understood in contrast to traditional argument or adversarial thinking. Parallel thinking is designed to help an individual solving a problem, understand all aspects of the problem�it focuses more-so on constructive and co-operative and co-ordinated thinking (Edward de Bono's Web, 1999, Online). By wearing each hat you can effectively scan the entire situation and separate your thinking modes and ultimately embrace a more holistic or global perspective and approach to your problem or challenge.

The last key concept and of major importance worth noting in this paper is de Bono's CoRT Thinking Program, which has been adopted around the world in several thousand educational institutions. "CoRT stands for Cognitive Research Trust. It can also be regarded as being short for CORTEX where all the thinking takes place in the brain" (de Bono, 1976, p. 11). The CoRT Program is composed of six units, each of which contains several lessons intended to fit within a single class session. De Bono designed this program in order to teach creative thinking to school children at an early age that will help them assimilate other subjects and better prepare them for society.

For those interested in Edward de Bono's work, I would first recommend they navigate his website, which offers a plethora of information. His website is the single best, centralized source of information available. To become familiar with key concepts and have a thorough understanding of de Bono's work, I would suggest Lateral Thinking and Parallel Thinking, along with the well-known Six Thinking Hats. For those in education, it would be beneficial to look into the CoRT Program, Teach Your Child How to Think and Teaching Thinking. Having received such wide attention from so many fields and industries, you'll find that de Bono's work is universal in nature and offers the student/learner the opportunity to apply many of his concepts across a wide variety of challenges and situations.

De Bono gets a bad rap. They question his intentions and are quick to judge and point the finger. Creativity "experts" who preach that we must first always defer judgment are usually the first ones to judge. De Bono works in the real world where action=compensation and doing=visibility. Too many researchers don't do, they test, and test, and test, and test, and test until they're blue in the face. They test in safe and controlled environments. Many of them get bogged down in reams of paper, academic investigations and data and lose site that there is a world out there that is thirsty for guidance � a society that rewards individuals for their action oriented and change-making ability contributions. They forget however that they too could play in the same sandbox as de Bono and they too could receive such visibility, money, fame, etc., if they so chose. De Bono just makes things happen�that's all. Let's not be jealous shall we? After all, where would the world of creativity be without such a champion?

Bibliography - Seminal Importance


De Bono, E. (1967). The 5-Day Course in Thinking. New York: Basic Books.

- A series of simple but intriguing problems to help develop your thinking skills (insight/sequential/strategic thinking).


De Bono, E. (1976). Thinking Action: Teacher's Handbook - CoRT VI. New York: Pergamon Press.

- A teaching program composed of six units, of which each contains several lesions intended to fit within a single class.


De Bono, E. (1968). New Think: The Use of Lateral Thinking in the Generation of New Ideas. New York: Basic Books.

- A look into the concept and devices of lateral thinking to help spark new ways of viewing problems and generating more useful ideas.


De Bono, E. (1970). Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step. New York: Harper & Row.

- "Sideways" thinking. A process and willingness to look at things in a different way. Solve problems by illogical means.

De Bono, E. (1972). Children Solve Problems. London: The Penguin Press.

- Helps children tap into their imagination with nine different tasks, requiring them to think in impractical terms and helps them to increase their fluency.


De Bono, E. (1990). PO: Beyond Yes and No. New York: The Penguin Press.

- Helps you step outside of preset thought patterns to create new ideas.


De Bono, E. (1969). The Mechanism of Mind. New York: Simon & Schuster.

- Dr. de Bono tells how the brain works by constructing a nerve center (brain) built from everyday materials and symbols you easily understand.


De Bono, E. (1986). Six Thinking Hats. New York: Little Brown and Company.

- Shows you how to separate your thinking into six distinct modes. By switching "hats," you are encouraged to take on a more global perspective of problems and situations.


Bibliography - Germinal Importance


De Bono, E. (1993). Six Action Shoes. New York: Fontana.

- De Bono shows us how to take control of any business or life situation with easy and practical techniques and processes.


De Bono, E. (1992). Sur/Petition : Creating Value Monopolies when Everyone Else is Merely Competing. New York: HarperBusiness.

- De Bono explains how competition in the business world sets dangerous traps that limit and restrict our thinking. He shows business owners how to avoid these seductive traps.


De Bono, E. (1991). I am Right, You Are Wrong: From Rock Logic to the Water Logic. New York: Viking.

- You will learn how to chart your current views, then focus attention on the power points which are most likely to generate change.


De Bono, E. (1985). Conflicts: A Better Way to Resolve Them. New York: Viking Penguin, Inc.

- There are only three roads to conflict resolution: fight/litigate, negotiate/bargain, and design a solution. De Bono highlights the design approach in this book.


De Bono, E. (1994). de Bono's Thinking Course: Revised Edition. New York: Facts on File.

- Based on the BBC television series, Dr. de Bono shows how your thinking techniques can be enhanced and improved through practice, attention, and the use of simple tools.


De Bono, E. (1990). Word Power. New York: The Penguin Press.

- A compilation of "thinking chunks" (words) that will help you to become more expressive. This work will prepare you to provide impressive answers in any situation.


De Bono, E. (1990). Atlas of Management Thinking. New York: The Penguin Press.

- Dr. de Bono encourages the use of the right side of our brain and provides business executives with tools in order to add right-brain thinking, through images, to their left-brain thinking.


De Bono, E. (1990). Lateral Thinking for Management. New York: The Penguin Press.

- De Bono shows how creativity and lateral thinking working together in the process of management can help to develop new products, ideas and adopt new approaches to problems and challenges.

Bibliography - Current Importance


De Bono, E. (1999). New Thinking for the New Millennium. New York: Viking Press.

- De Bono emphases the importance of creative thinking and the importance of bettering the way we think to help us improve our future and prepare ourselves for the new millennium.


Tanner, D., De Bono, E. (1999). Total Creativity in Business & Industry. New York: The Penguin Press.

- David Tanner, founder of the Du Pont Center for Creativity and Innovation, gives a road map for using de Bono Methods to change corporate culture.


De Bono, E. (1997).Textbook of Wisdom. New York: The Penguin Press.

- De Bono provides us with thinking tools, guidelines and principles for attaining wisdom.


De Bono, E. (1998). SuperMind Pack with Other. New York: Dorling Kindersley.

- A boxed set, interactive guide to expand your thinking skills. More than 100 games, puzzles, and exercises.


De Bono, E. (1998). How to Become More Interesting. New York: The Penguin Press.

- A self-help manual for the cataclysmically boring, with over seventy helpful exercises.


De Bono, E. (1999). Simplicity. New York: The Penguin Press.

- De Bono shares tools and techniques to help us simplify our approach and "trim the fat" from everyday challenges and situations. Looks at simplifying our lives into the new millennium.


De Bono, E. (1995). Parallel Thinking. New York: The Penguin Press.

- De Bono teaches us how to accept both sides of a contradiction and lay them down in parallel. Thinking of traditional philosophers (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle) based on analysis, judgment and argument should move towards a more constructive and design-based system of thought.


De Bono, E. (1995). Serious Creativity: Using the Power of Lateral Thinking to Create New Ideas. New York: HarperCollins.

- A fundamental textbook on the process and art of creative thinking. Summarizes 25 years of extensive practical experience in the deliberate use of creativity.



Please note that this is a select list, which may not include many other works. De Bono has a new 90-minute movie out (2040) and is the organizer of the recent DATT (Direct Attention Thinking Tools) workshop, the Edward de Bono Creative Team, a new political party - T.O.P.P. (Tired of Politics or The Ordinary People's Party), and many other new initiatives. Please visit his web-page for more up-to-date information.




Advanced Practical Thinking & Training [About Dr. de Bono page], [Online]. (1999, October 16). Available: http://www.aptt.com.


Edward de Bono's Web [Biography page], [Online]. (1999, October 16). Available: http://www.edwdebono.com.


De Bono, E. (1994). de Bono's Thinking Course: Revised Edition. New York: Facts on File.


De Bono, E. (1976). Thinking Action: Teacher' Handbook � CoRT VI. New York: Pergamon Press.


Gross, R. (1990). Teaching the World to Think: The Practical Humanism of Edward de Bono. The Humanist, Vol. 50-51, 13-14, 38.


Torrance, P. E. (1999). Making the Creative Leap Beyond�. Buffalo, NY: Creative Education Foundation Press.


Sternberg, R. J., Lubart, T. I. (1999). The Concept of Creativity: Prospects and Paradigms. In Sternberg, R. J., Handbook of Creativity. New York: Cambridge University Press.


Wiesendanger, B. (1991). Creativity, Assumptions and the "Salt Curve". Sales and Marketing Management, Vol. 143, Issue 6, 71-73.