EDWARD DE BONO - BIOGRAPHY

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Edward de Bono was born in Malta in 1933. He attended St Edward's College, Malta, during World War II and then the University of Malta where he qualified in medicine. He proceeded, as a Rhodes Scholar, to Christ Church, Oxford, where he gained an honours degree in psychology and physiology and then a D.Phil in medicine. He also holds a Ph.D from Cambridge and an MD from the University of Malta. He has held appointments at the universities of Oxford, London, Cambridge and Harvard.

Dr Edward de Bono is one of the very few people in history who can be said to have had a major impact on the way we think. In many ways he could be said to be the best known thinker internationally.

He has written numerous books with translations into 34 languages (all the major languages plus Hebrew, Arabic, Bahasa, Urdu, Slovene, Turkish etc).

He has been invited to lecture in 52 countries around the world.

In the University of Buenos Aires five faculties use his books as required reading. In Venezuela, by law, all school children must spend an hour a week on his programmes. In Singapore 102 secondary schools use his work. In Malaysia the senior science schools have been using his work for ten years. In the U.S.A., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland and the UK there are thousands of schools using Dr de Bono's programmes for the teaching of thinking. At the International Thinking Meeting in Boston (1992) He was given an award as a key pioneer in the direct teaching of thinking in schools.

In 1988 he was awarded the first Capire prize in Madrid for a significant contribution to humankind.

What is unique about Dr de Bono is the response to his work across an unusually wide spectrum.

At the special request of the delegates Dr de Bono was asked to address the Commonwealth Law Conference in Vancouver in August 1996 (2,300 senior lawyers, judges etc from 52 Commonwealth countries and other invited countries such as China). This followed an address which was regarded as the highlight of a previous Conference held in Auckland.

Dr de Bono has worked with many of the major corporations in the world such as IBM, Du Pont, Prudential, AT&T, British Airways, British Coal, NTT(Japan), Ericsson(Sweden), Total(France), etc. The largest corporation in Europe, Siemens (370,000 employees) is teaching his work across the whole corporation, following Dr de Bono's talk to the senior management team. When Microsoft held their first ever marketing meeting, they invited Edward de Bono to give the keynote address in Seattle to the five hundred top managers.

Edward de Bono's special contribution has been to take the mystical subject of creativity and, for the first time in history, to put the subject on a solid basis. He has shown that creativity was a necessary behaviour in a self-organising information system. His key book, 'The Mechanism of Mind' was published in 1969. In it he showed how the nerve networks in the brain formed asymmetric patterns as the basis of perception. The leading physicist in the world, Professor Murray Gell Mann, said of this book that it was ten years ahead of mathematicians dealing with chaos theory, non-linear and self-organising systems.

From this basis, Edward de Bono developed the concept and tools of lateral thinking. What is so special is that instead of his work remaining hidden in academic texts he has made it practical and available to everyone, from five years olds to adults. The late Lord Mountbatten once invited Dr de Bono to talk to all his admirals. Dr de Bono was asked to open the first ever Pentagon meeting on Creativity. At the UN Social Summit in Copenhagen he was asked to address the banking and finance group.

The term 'lateral thinking' was introduced by Edward de Bono and is now so much part of the language that it is used equally in a physics lecture and in a television comedy.

Traditional thinking is to do with analysis, judgment and argument. In a stable world this was sufficient because it was enough to identify standard situations and to apply standard solutions. This is no longer so in a changing world where the standard solutions may not work.

There is a huge need world-wide for thinking that is creative and constructive and can design the way forward. Many of the major problems in the world cannot be solved by identifying and removing the cause. There is a need to design a way forward even if the cause remains in place.

Edward de Bono has provided the methods and tools for this new thinking. He is the undisputed world leader in what may be the most important field of all in the future: constructive and creative thinking.

In 1996 The European Creativity Association surveyed their members across Europe to ask who had most influenced them. Dr de Bono's name came so far ahead that they requested the official naming committee of the International Astronomical Union (in Massachusetts) to name a planet after him. So DE73 became EdeBono.

In 1995 the Malta Government awarded Edward de Bono the 'Order of Merit'. This is the highest award available and is limited to only twenty living persons.

For many thousands, indeed millions, of people world-wide, Edward de Bono's name has become a symbol of creativity and new thinking.

In December 1996, The Edward de Bono Foundation in Dublin will be hosting a European Union sponsored conference on "the teaching of thinking in schools".

In 1972 Edward de Bono established the Cognitive Research Trust as a charitable organisation devoted to the teaching of thinking in schools (see CoRT Thinking Lessons).

Edward de Bono founded the International Creative Forum which has had as members many of the leading corporations in the world: IBM, Du Pont, Prudential, Nestle, British Airways, Alcoa, CSR etc.

The International Creativity Office in New York to work with The UN and member countries to produce new ideas on international issues - has been set up by Dr de Bono.

Dr de Bono has made two TV series: de Bono's Course in Thinking (BBC) and The Greatest Thinkers (WDR, Germany)

Peter Ueberroth, whose organisation of the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles rescued the Games from oblivion, attributed his success to his use of de Bono's lateral thinking. So did John Bertrand, skipper of the successful 1983 challenger for the America's Cup yacht race. Ron Barbaro, President of Prudential Insurance (USA) also attributed his invention of living needs benefits to de Bono's methods.

Perhaps what is so unique about Edward de Bono is that his work spans from teaching 7 years olds in primary schools to working with senior executives in the world's largest corporations. His work also spans many cultures: Europe, North and South America, Russia, The Middle East, Africa, SE Asia, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand etc.

In September 1996 there was launched in Melbourne a 'de Bono Institute' as a world centre for new thinking. The Andrews Foundation has donated $8.5 million to make this possible.

In 1997 Dr de Bono has been invited to be one of the major speakers at the first ecology conference to be held in Beijing, China. His role is to provide the 'new thinking' element.

Some of Edward de Bono's recent activities:

Edward de Bono is the consummate peripatetic educator! Nearly every week he is in a different part of the world talking to government leaders, educators and heads of industry and business. Some of his key engagements listed below demonstrate the broad appeal of Dr de Bono's message: thinking can and should be taught if we are to meet the needs of today's fast-paced and changing world.

  • Invited to Moscow by the Academy of Sciences to train teachers in School Project One - ten Moscow schools used as laboratories for innovative teaching techniques. Also, working with a translator, Dr de Bono taught CoRT Thinking lessons to children ranging in age from 7 years old to 17 years old at School 57, the top school in Moscow.
  • Met with the Minister of Education in Kuwait at a special meeting of 500 educators. The Education Research Institute there is interested in initiating a pilot programme using the CoRT Thinking Programme.
  • Spoke at PACRIM, an economics meeting of senior business and government personnel from the Pacific rim nations.
  • Travelled to Minneapolis to talk to the Education Commission of the States about the direct teaching of thinking in schools, and conducted several workshops for Minnesota teachers.
  • Spoke to the Research Board, a group of Information Managers from top Fortune 500 companies, at their meeting in Newport Beach, California.
  • Visited the Annadale Campus of the Northern Virginia Community College where Liz Grizzard, Dean of Student Development, has organised an introductory thinking skills course.
  • Invited to address INSEAD on its 25th anniversary - one of Europe's leading business schools.
  • Arranged a meeting with the corporate leaders from the United States of America, Japan, New Zealand and the United Kingdom to pursue the formation of a task force on thinking. Senior representatives from Xerox, Digital, McDonnell Douglas and Hewlett Packard joined Dr de Bono to explore new strategies that will allow us to consciously plan our future.
  • Delivered a keynote address to the Eighth World Conference on Gifted and Talented Children in Sydney, Australia.
  • Delivered the keynote address to an OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) entitled The Curriculum Redefined: Learning to Think - Thinking to Learn, New Strategies for Effective Communication. Attendees explored the theoretical background of the teaching of thinking, as well as techniques with which thinking skills are now being taught, and the ways those techniques relate to current cognitive development research.

Accolades

  • In January 1995 Dr de Bono was awarded the National Order of Merit, the highest honour, by the President of Malta. This honour can only be held by 20 living persons at any time. Dr de Bono was born and received his early education in Malta.
  • July 1994 he was awarded the Pioneer Prize in the field of Thinking at the International Conference on Thinking at M.I.T. in Boston.
  • 1992 the first recipient of the Capire prize in Europe for outstanding achievement.
  • The book by Edward de Bono - I am right, You are Wrong has forwards by three Nobel laureates.
  • A recent survey by the European Creativity Association of its members showed that 40% considered Dr de Bono as the greatest influence in the field of creativity. This was far ahead of any other nominee.
  • When the US Defense University held their first ever symposium on creativity they asked Dr de Bono to open it by telephone from Helsinki, in Finland, where he was at the time.
  • In 1990 Dr de Bono was invited to chair a meeting of Nobel laureates from around the world. The meeting took place in Korea.

What the World is Saying about Dr de Bono's Works....

In Du Pont, we have many good examples of how out technical people have applied Dr de Bono's lateral thinking techniques to successfully solve difficult problems David Tanner Ph.D, Technical Director, Du Pont

The complexity and pace of contemporary life being what they are, de Bono's course should be an essential curriculum for the human race Alex Kroll, Chairman & President, Yong & Rubican

It's difficult for anyone to put a precise value on Edward de Bono's work and expertise. His views on thinking and creating are persuasive and cumulative Jeremy Bullmore, Chairman, J. Walter Thompson Company

Dr de Bono's course builds up your thinking skills quickly and enjoyably and you then find yourself using the skills instinctively in approaching all situations......

Leaders in every field - from skilled labour to nuclear physics, from manufacturing to selling - have this in common : the ability to think clearly. I've seen in my own organisation how de Bono's concepts have triggered ideas, enthusiasm and positivism - at every level of personnel. Paul MacCready, Founder/President Aero Vironment Inc., known as the 'Father of Human Powered Flight'.

de Bono's work may be the best thing going in the world today. George Gallup, originator of the Gallup Poll.

I definitely know of Dr de Bono and am an admirer of his work. We live in an information economy, where we have to live by what comes out of our minds. John Sculley, Chairman, President and CEO, Apple Computer Inc.

It is a function of clarity of de Bono's approach that his thinking course works well with school children or executives. John Naisbitt, Author of MEGATRENDS 2000

We all hang on to assumptions of the past to make conclusions about the future......de Bono teaches us to challenge such assumptions and develop new creative solutions to problems. Philip L Smith, President, General Foods Corporation

Lateral Thinking.....really transformed my approach to business problems. A. Weinberg, Management Consultant, NY

Creative Thinking is a new field and Dr de Bono is generally regarded as the leading world authority in this area.