In the last week of September, I was one of the few guests of Zavarovalnica Maribor, and having dinner with Edward de Bono. De Bono coined the term of lateral thinking and created the concept of ‘six thinking hats’ – a well-known model for creative solving of problems.
I have to say, a Grand man of the present and a warm speaker.
There is no person in the world who doesn’t want to be creative. Everybody has to want to be creative. Life can be more interesting, fun and advanced if followed by creativity.– Edward de Bono
I’ll try to sum up the main elements of De Bono’s scientific work.
We’ll start with a few lines on the theory of thinking…
From the aspect of cognitive contents, thinking can be:
- Convergent– starts from the assumption that there is only one solution and all activities and efforts are directed towards the finding of that one ‘right’ solution
- Divergent – the thoughts are not directed towards one, but more different solutions.
In psychology, there is a division into:
- Vertical – thinking that is being developed ‘step by step’, and thoughts are aimed at one goal. This is a slow a and tiring process, freed of enthusiasm and freshness, but very often successful; and
- Lateral – thinking as De Bono defined it and it basically means that thoughts choose a ‘curvy’ road; with many associations and sparkles which enrich the main stream of thinking.
Lateral thinking results in creative ideas whose implementation creates innovations. – De Bono
Creativity & innovation…
It is crucial to understand that creativity is an ability of making new ideas. Even more, however, you have to understand innovation as the implementation of those creative ideas. It is only logical to conclude that mankind, as we know it, is filled with amazing visual, cultural and technological treasures-> all the results of creativity!
In history, creativity was assigned to the Muses, the God’s intervention, the cognitive process, social surrounding, and finally, during the XX century, creativity was understood as a possibility, that is, potential, of each individual.
De Bono reminds us that our innate way of thinking is based on analyses and making conclusions. A situation is being analyzed in order to identify any standard element for it to be used in a standard reply. This, according to him, is an exquisite thing, but not even close enough to makeing something new and fresh. De Bono sees the dominance of vertical thinking mainly in the bases of our culture and a specific way of thinking making us believe that we always have to push forward on a predetermined direction.
If an idea is not absurd in its beginning, nothing will come out of it!- A. Einstein
Thinking & business…
De Bono sees the pulsating economical and overall social movements, fast pace and permanent pressure the companies are disposed to as great markets and playgrounds for the implementation of the lateral-> out of the ordinary, fresh and dynamic way of thinking.
Do not presuppose, in any way, that creative ideas are always high-risk businesses.- De Bono
De Bono points out that companies often claim that they have all the new ideas they need. Creativity is in most cases an unknown quantity and big corporations do not like to put themselves into mercy or unmercy of something so insecure. Likewise, there are companies which believe in the osmosis; they let others try out the new ideas and if they are successful, take all the credit for themselves. The new ideas are being absorbed through the process of ‘osmosis’, even unconsciously. To make it short and simple, corporations do not want new ideas; they want ‘successful new ideas’
The bigger the productivity in a company, the bigger the need is for creativity. Productivity will elicit the max provided by a new idea. If a company is unproductive, it will have less new ideas. Productivity and creativity are complementary to one another, not the other way around.- Edward de Bono
In order to graphically show where the thoughts are going to, and where they could must go to, he created a model of ‘six hats’. In this way, De Bono suggested that the problem or challenge should be put into pieces, taking into account, when giving solutions, the six elements of the stream of thought (ratio, information, sensation, but also optimism…). Only when each angle of perspective is touched by our cognitive activities do we find an adequate solution and make the process which helped us come to that solution worthy of creative potential of each person.
How to be (even) better…
Although we are not all born to be artists, chefs or sportsmen, there are numerous techniques which can help us perfect our abilities. It’s the same with knowledges. It’s the same with thinking, in that aspect. De Bono believes that with the use of new methods of thinking, together with permanent training and curiosity, our cognitive and creative possibilities are also becoming bigger.
Hm, we could give it a shot, but I am not convinced that every stone is a precious one, i.e. that it can become precious. In that spirit, pay attention to the basic features of the persons with high potential for creativity -> innovation- perhaps with it we can more easily comprehend which of our own features we can work on in order to increase our fresh intellectual capacity:
|HIGH POTENTIAL FOR CREATIVITY||LOW POTENTIAL FOR CREATIVITY|
||1. You are highly specialized|
||2. You reject everything out of the ordinary|
||3. You expect quick & superficial results|
||4. You reject everything that doesn’t give instant results|
||5. You are afraid of an embarrassing truth|
||6. You are not motivated to work|
||7. You reject personal responsibility|
||8. You are not comfortable with collective work|
||9. You pay too much attention to your superiors|
|10. You are ambitious & confident||10. You criticize everything modern and new|
|11. You do not have affinity towards authorities||11. You are afraid of failure & ‘play the safe card’|
|12. You are persistent & committed to work||12. You are a pessimist, discourage your surrounding, constantly criticizing|
|13. You are a bit egoistic and narcissistic||13. You lack self-confidence|
New times demand new ideas!
What can we offer to the world?