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Edward de Bono
Edward de Bono (born May 19, 1933, in Maltamarker) is a physician, author, inventor, and consultant. He is best known as the originator of the term lateral thinking and a proponent of the deliberate teaching of thinking as a subject in schools.


Edward de Bono studied at St Edward's College in Maltamarker and gained a medical degree from the University of Malta. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Christ Church, Oxfordmarker where he gained an M.A. degree in psychology and physiology. He also has a Ph.D. degree and a D.Phil. degree in Medicine from Cambridge Universitymarker, a D.Des. degree (Doctor of Design) from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technologymarker, and an LL.D. degree from the University of Dundeemarker. He holds professorships at the Universities of Malta, Pretoria, Dublin City University, and the University of Central England. The New University of Advancing Technology in Phoenix AZ appointed Dr. de Bono Da Vinci Professor of Thinking in May 2005. He is one of the 27 for the European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009.

He was formerly married, has two sons and resides on the Channel Islands.

In 1969 de Bono founded the Cognitive Research Trust (CoRT) which continues to produce and promote material based on his ideas.

He has written 82 books with translations into 41 languages. He has spent the last 30 years teaching thinking, including working with governments, corporations, organisations and individuals, speaking publicly or privately on many matters. He has started to set up the World Center for New Thinking, based in Malta, which he describes as a "kind of intellectual Red Crossmarker".

In 1995, he created the futuristic documentary film, 2040: Possibilities by Edward de Bono, a lecture designed to prepare an audience of viewers released from a cryogenic freeze for contemporary (2040) society.

De Bono has detailed a range of 'deliberate thinking methods' - applications emphasizing thinking as a deliberate act rather than a reactive one. His writing style has been lauded for being simple and practical. Avoiding academic terminology, he has advanced applied psychology by making theories about creativity and perception into usable tools.

De Bono's work has become particularly popular in the sphere of business - perhaps because of the perceived need to restructure corporations, to allow more flexible working practices and to innovate in products and services. The methods have migrated into corporate training courses designed to help employees and executives think outside the box.


Lateral Thinking

De Bono takes several approaches to thinking in his books published over the last 30 years. One aspect is that creativity should be producible on demand, and that formation of new ideas cannot merely be left to chance. He argues that critical thinking is reductive, designed to eliminate all but the truth, and that this is in contrast to design thinking or creativity where new ideas are sought. De Bono claims that it is important to disrupt the conventional patterns adopted by the brain. So the act of provocation, or "Po", is designed to introduce a random factor into the thinking to shift the emphasis in new directions.

De Bono's contention is that everyone should strive to be more creative, but that unstructured creativity such as brainstorming is less effective than following the techniques that he prescribes. Brainstorming merely reiterates the existing held perceptions and ideas about a topic. Lateral thinking introduces new stimuli in an effort to shift the thinking in new directions.

The most comprehensive exposition of de Bono's techniques for generating creative ideas was published in his 1992 book, Serious Creativity. His work "The Mechanism of Mind" is the basis for his theories .

Direct Teaching of Thinking

De Bono proposes that most of the problems in thinking are at the perceptual level - that is, that many more mistakes are made by people jumping to the wrong conclusion than by behaving irrationally once all the relevant facts are known.

To address this problem, he created attention directing tools under the name of CoRT, later as DATT and also included as Code 2 in the de Bono Code.

As the name suggests, the tools operate by directing peoples' attention to different aspects of the situation for a couple of minutes. For example, an OPV (Other Peoples' View) prompts the thinker to list the people (or types of people) who would be affected by a proposed idea. The thinker is then required to imagine what effects that idea would have on each of these different people.

While this may sound like an exercise in altruism, it need not be. Say you've got a selfish desire (eg. you're a kid wanting ice cream), then doing an OPV will help you anticipate and plan for other peoples' responses (eg. "Mummy, me and Jimmy were thinking that cleaning our rooms to your complete satisfaction might earn us both an ice cream. But we would have to eat these ice-creams immediately to avoid spoiling our dinner.").

Schools from over twenty countries have included de Bono's thinking tools into their curriculum.


De Bono has stated that he regards language as having been both the biggest help and the biggest barrier to human progress.

His contention is that just as language has allowed one generation to pass useful knowledge onto the next, it has also allowed dangerous myths and out-of-date ideas to become enshrined.

Convinced that a key way forward for humanity is better language, he published "The Edward de Bono Code Book" in 2000. In this book, he proposed a suite of new words based on numbers, where each number combination represents a useful idea or situation that currently does not have a single-word representation.

For example, de Bono code 6/2 means "Give me my point of view and I will give you your point of view." dBc 6/2 might be used in situations where one or both of two parties in a dispute are making insufficient effort to understand the other's perspective.


In 2000, de Bono advised a U.K Foreign Officemarker committee that the Arab-Israeli conflict might be due, in part, to low levels of zinc found in people who eat unleavened bread, a known side-effect of which is aggression. He suggested shipping out jars of Marmite to compensate.

He has suggested an alternative to the penalty shootout when a soccer match ends in a draw. If the number of times each goalkeeper touches the ball is recorded throughout the game the results can be compared in the event of a draw. The team whose goalkeeper has touched the ball more often is the loser. The winner will then be the team that has had more attempts at scoring goals and is more aggressive (and therefore exciting) in their style of play. This mechanism would avoid the tension of the penalty shoot out. However, some people argue that this method of deciding a drawn match completely ignores the goalkeeper's skill which can win a game for a team. If the game goes to a penalty shootout, even though one team may have completely dominated the other, the goalkeeper has kept the scores level. Furthermore the goalkeeper can make highly skilled saves in a penalty shootout and defeat the better team.

In 2007, his Septoe idea was given life through a new website. Septoes allow people to distill their wisdom into phrases of exactly seven words.


Edward de Bono invented a simple game as a challenge, called the L Game, that requires strategy to win, and 'Concept Snap', which requires participants to think of ways in which different objects can be used to perform similar functions. He does contend that what is learned from games tends not to be transferred to thinking in real life.


In the Handbook of Creativity, Robert J. Sternberg writes, "Equally damaging to the scientific study of creativity, in our view, has been the takeover of the field, in the popular mind, by those who follow what might be referred to as a pragmatic approach. Those taking this approach have been concerned primarily with developing creativity, secondarily with understanding it, but almost not at all with testing the validity of their ideas about it." Sternberg continues, "Perhaps the foremost proponent of this approach is Edward De Bono, whose work on lateral thinking and other aspects of creativity has had what appears to be considerable commercial success."

Frameworks For Thinking is a comprehensive evaluation of 42 popular thinking frameworks conducted by a team of researchers. Regarding Edward De Bono they write, "[he] is more interested in the usefulness of developing ideas than proving the reliability or efficacy of his approach. There is sparse research evidence to show that generalised improvements in thinking performance can be attributed to training in the use of CoRT or Thinking Hats tools. An early evaluation of CoRT reported significant benefits for Special Educational Needs (SEN) pupils.... However, in a more recent study with Australian aboriginal children (Ritchie and Edwards, 1996), little evidence of generalisation was found other than in the area of creative thinking."

Published works

Books by de Bono include:

De Bono has also written numerous articles published in refereed and other journals, including The Lancet and Clinical Science.

See also


Further reading

  • Piers Dudgeon: Breaking Out of the Box: The Biography of Edward de Bono. London: Headline, 2001. ISBN 074726542X.

External links

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