Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Edward de Bono on creative thinking

Having more of a background in the arts, I have been conditioned to distrust advice on creativity from business gurus, academics and motivational speakers. However, if I employ lateral thinking and look outside to box, I can find value in the words and ideas of Edward de Bono.

Thanks to Zenpundit

Here's a simple example of Lateral Thinking via Wikipedia:

A man and his son are in a car crash. The father is killed and the son is taken to hospital gravely injured. When he gets there, the surgeon says "I can't operate on this boy- he is my son!" How is this possible?

This is an example of an instant perception blocking the mind's ability to explore alternatives. In this case the instant perception is that most people imagine a surgeon as a male; this leads to the conclusion that either the surgeon or the "father" in the car crash was not the boy's real father.

If you switch your perception to allow for a female surgeon then the answer is suddenly obvious,the surgeon is the boy's mother.

Most people imagine a surgeon as a male, but in this case it is the opposite! Lateral thinking is the method of switching perceptions to allow the alternate view point...
Interesting de Bono nugget:
Edward de Bono is a prolific originator of ideas, only a few of which are listed here.

In 2000 he advised a U.K Foreign Office 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...

Not sure how that worked out., but it seems like as good an idea as any.

As far as the video goes, sometimes I struggle with the semantics involved with the term "creativity." It seems that the creativity that has value in the worlds of business, technology or strategic thinking is not necessarily the same as that of the aesthetic. This does not make them exclusive of each other, but sometimes the novel, unique or different can have worth outside the realms of utility and cognitive resonance. Therefore, a triangular door might serve no useful purpose, but within certain contexts could conceivably be charged with significant value and meaning.

Sorry, just thinking outside of outside of the box.

More de Bono videos

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