Edward De Bono
Edward Charles Francis Publius de Bono
(19 May 1933, St. Julian’s Bay, Valletta, Malta – 9 June 2021, Malta) (aged 88)
Citizenship: Malta, Britain
Category: Scientists, Leaders
Occupation: Author, Consultant, Psychologist, Creativity theorist, Physician, Inventor
Specification: Lateral Thinking, Creativity, Problem Solving, Psychology of Creativity
Unique distinction: He is considered the world’s foremost expert on lateral thinking, creativity, and problem-solving.
He coined the term “lateral thinking” in the 1960s, which has an official entry in the Oxford English Dictionary. He is known as the father of ‘lateral thinking’ and as a guru who offered the key to commercial and personal success.
Family: Spouse Josephine Hall-White (m. 1971, div.)
Children: two sons.
1. Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.
2. Lateral thinking… is the process of using information to bring about creativity and insight restructuring
3. Rightness is what matters in vertical thinking. Richness is what matters in lateral thinking.
4. Lateral thinking is closely related to insight, creativity and humour.
5. Humour is by far the most significant activity of the human brain.
6. Creative thinking is not a talent, it is a skill that can be learned. It empowers people by adding strength to their natural abilities which improves teamwork, productivity and, where appropriate, profits.
7. Philosophers may look out at the world from a stained-glass window, but after a while they stop looking at the world and start looking at the stained glass.
8. Universities should be a portal through which students emerge with transcendent and transcended thinking rather than an archway through which they are funnelled in order to perpetuate narrow minded perspective.
9. If you wait for opportunities to occur, you will be one of the crowd.
10. The quality of our thinking will determine the quality of our future.
Achievements and contributions:
Social and professional position: Edward de Bono is a world-renowned psychologist, author, and consultant. He is also a Maltese physician, sought-after speaker, visionary, inventor, philosopher and Nobel Prize nominee.
The main contribution (Best Known for):
Dr. Edward de Bono is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities in the field of creative thinking and the direct teaching of thinking as a skill. He is widely recognized as the creator of the term “lateral thinking,” a revolutionary approach to problem-solving and creativity, which describes a way of thinking that seeks to solve problems through creative and unconventional approaches.
He was a proponent of the teaching of creative thinking as a subject in schools.
He has written over 85 books on topics such as lateral and creative thinking, innovation, problem-solving, and decision-making. Now his books translated into 46 languages on the topic of creative thinking.
Through his contributions, Dr. de Bono has played a significant role in advancing the field of cognitive science and empowering individuals and businesses to unleash their creative potential. His methods have proven to be extremely useful in terms of problem identification, problem-solving and inducing motivation.
Contributions to creativity, cognitive science, education, and social life:
1. Lateral Thinking:
Edward de Bono’s significant contribution to the field of cognitive science lies in his groundbreaking development of lateral thinking.
Edward de Bono developed the concept of lateral thinking as an alternative to traditional vertical or logical thinking.
He first used the phrase “lateral thinking” in an interview with London Life in 1966. He coined and introduced the concept of ‘lateral thinking’ in 1967 in his book “The Use of Lateral Thinking. Then, The Oxford English Dictionary included a definition for the first time.
Lateral thinking encourages individuals to break away from traditional, linear thought processes and embrace unconventional approaches to problem-solving.
Lateral thinking emphasizes generating fresh ideas, challenging assumptions, and approaching issues from different angles.
This methodology has proved instrumental in problem identification, problem-solving, and motivation induction, finding extensive application in corporate environments worldwide. De Bono’s emphasis on imaginative yet incidental thinking has revolutionized the way individuals approach challenges, promoting creativity and fostering a culture of innovation.
2. Concept of “Parallel Thinking”: In his book “Parallel Thinking: From Socratic to De Bono Thinking” (1994) De Bono introduced the concept of “parallel thinking,” which involves directing the thinking process along specific lines of focus.
The essence of this concept is to shift from traditional confrontational thinking to a collaborative and constructive thinking approach. In parallel thinking, individuals engage in a structured and systematic process where different perspectives are explored simultaneously. This method allows for a comprehensive examination of a problem or situation from multiple angles, without the need for debate or argument.
The key benefit of parallel thinking is that it eliminates the typical adversarial nature of discussions and encourages constructive contributions from all participants.
3. The concept of “thinking outside the box,” involves looking beyond established frameworks and assumptions, to break free from conventional and restrictive thought patterns to explore and find new and innovative solutions to problems.
This concept encourages individuals to transcend limitations and challenge assumptions, question established norms, step outside their comfort zones and consider alternative perspectives when approaching a problem or situation that may not be immediately apparent.
This concept encourages individuals to adopt a mindset that is open, flexible, and receptive to new ideas. It fosters a mindset of exploration, curiosity, a willingness to take risks and creative problem-solving.
4. Concept of critical thinking”. De Bono introduced the concept of critical thinking in his book “Practical Thinking” which was first published in 1971. In this book, he explores various aspects of practical thinking, including problem-solving, decision-making, and effective reasoning.
Critical thinking is a way of thinking that involves analyzing and evaluating information in a systematic and logical manner. It involves the ability to question assumptions, evaluate evidence, analyze arguments, consider alternative viewpoints and make sound judgments based on objective criteria. It requires individuals to suspend personal biases and prejudices and to actively seek out different perspectives and opinions.
In the “6 Hats method”, critical thinking is activated by putting on the black hat, which, according to Bono, is associated with the word checking and does not carry a negative image.
De Bono emphasizes the importance of critical thinking as a fundamental skill for navigating the complexities of everyday life and making sound judgments.
5. CoRT Thinking Program: In 1969 Edward de Bono founded the Cognitive Research Trust (CoRT), an educational enterprise offering practical training in creative thinking skills. He asserted: „Creative thinking — in terms of idea creativity — is not a mystical talent. It is a skill that can be practised and nurtured.“The
The Thinking Program was a comprehensive system designed to enhance critical and creative thinking skills and provided practical tools and strategies to develop critical and creative thinking skills in individuals of all ages.
Other than that the program incorporated specific thinking techniques to promote effective problem-solving, decision making, and communication.
Today, a global network going by the name of ‘de Bono’ links over 300 certified trainers in 72 countries through 22 affiliate authorised distributors on six continents.
6. Six Thinking Hats: In 1985, in his outstanding book Six Thinking Hats de Bono introduced the powerful technique for group discussions and decision-making.
This book also provides a more detailed introduction to the concepts of “parallel thinking” and “critical thinking.
The Six Thinking Hats method was a technique for group brainstorming that involved assigning different roles or perspectives to participants.
Each hat represented a different perspective or thinking style, facilitating a structured and comprehensive exploration of ideas.
In this method, participants mentally wear metaphorical “thinking hats” to represent different modes of thinking. Such as the white hat activates the analysis of facts and information, the red hat – emotions and intuition, the black hat – is critical analysis and drawbacks finding, the green hat – creativity and possibilities, the yellow hat – objective and neutral thinking and the blue hat -overview and process control. By sequentially and intentionally switching between these hats, individuals can approach a problem or decision from various viewpoints, uncovering different insights and facilitating efficient and collaborative thinking.
7. Design of Thinking Tools: De Bono developed various thinking tools, techniques for generating creative ideas and frameworks to facilitate creativity and problem solving, including the “Random word” technique, the “Disruptive thinking” approach,
CAF (Consider All Factors), APC (Alternatives, Possibilities, Choices) methods and The value medals, are six different values that can be used to evaluate decisions and actions.
PMI (Plus, Minus, Interesting), Analysis
PMI analysis asks us to look at the Pluses, the Minuses and the things that are interesting about a situation, option or challenge. This third dimension opens your mind to the subtleties and to new ideas.
“PO” framework. De Bono developed a framework called
the “PO” framework (which stands for “Provocation” and “Operation”).
He put forward the idea that provocative assertions stimulate lateral jumps in our thinking. De Bono crystallised this idea in his book Po: Beyond Yes and No. (1973).
de Bono believed that the dichotomies of yes versus no, or right versus wrong, or good versus bad, lead us into linear thinking that is poor at identifying new ideas or thinking in a rich and subtle way.
The concept of “po,” is a third alternative to “yes” and “no.” By analysing the provocation (or ‘PO’), we can reach new and possibly fruitful insights.
He also created the “concept fan” method, which involves breaking down a concept into smaller components in order to better understand it.
He emphasized the role of humour in creativity and argued that humour can help individuals overcome established patterns of thinking and generate new ideas.
Besides de Bono has written extensively on the importance of designing creative environments.
8. Focus on Education: Edward de Bono recognized the importance of incorporating creativity and critical thinking skills into education.
he was frustrated with the way children and graduates were taught what to think rather than how to think
He advocated for teaching thinking as a subject and introduced his methods into educational curricula worldwide, aiming to empower students with essential skills for navigating complex challenges.
The key contribution of de Bono’s is his focus on the importance of lateral thinking in education, and he has designed a number of educational programs and materials that promote this approach.
Schools from over 20 countries have included de Bono’s thinking tools in their curriculum, and he has advised and lectured at the board level at many of the world’s leading corporations.
During his lifetime, Edward lectured at Oxford, Cambridge, and as a Research Associate at Harvard Medical School, and as an honorary registrar at the St. Thomas Hospital Medical School within the University of London, and spoke to business conferences of thousands to multinationals,
One of his works published in 1982, titled De Bono’s Course in Thinking was also made into a television show.
Thus, starting in 1982, the BBC ran a series of 10 weekly programmes entitled de Bono’s Thinking Course.
This TV series was being used in more than 5,000 schools worldwide. A book with the same title accompanied the series.
He has made also TV series for WDR, Germany: “The Greatest Thinkers”.
9. Influence on Business and Innovation: De Bono’s theories and techniques have had a significant impact on the business and innovation sectors. His emphasis on creativity, collaboration, and the exploration of alternative perspectives has inspired organizations to adopt new approaches to problem-solving, idea generation, and strategic planning.
He has advised and lectured at the board level at many of the world’s leading corporations.
He taught his thinking methods to government agencies, corporate clients, organizations and individuals, privately or publicly in group sessions.
His corporate clients include IBM, Prudential, DuPont, Ford, Microsoft, GM, Shell, Exxon, BT (UK), NTT (Japan), Nokia (Finland), Mondadori (Italy), Total (France), Siemens (Germany), Bosch (Germany), Ericsson (Sweden) and many others.
Dr. de Bono was the chairman of the Council of Young Enterprise Europe, which has a membership of 1,500,000 youngsters across Europe.
10. Political activism. In his book Conflicts: A Better Way to Resolve Them (1985) he developed his concept of parallel thinking, which took him into the political arena.
In 2001, Dr. de Bono established the World Academy of New Thinking™ (WANT), based in Malta, which applied Thinking Tools to solution and policy design on the geopolitical level. He described it as a “kind of intellectual Red Cross”
He wrote: ‘We have to stop bothering about who is right and who is wrong, and ask instead, what will make a difference.’
in his work in Why I Want to Be King of Australia (1999), which he wrote on the plane from London to Auckland, he gives reasons as to how a leader should be chosen; and the qualities they need to possess.
He met with the leaders of various countries and helped settle Arab-Israeli and Irish conflicts.
In 1989, he led the Seoul Symposium of eleven Nobel Laureates in Korea, discussing the most pressing problems of the modern world.
Honours and Awards:
Edward de Bono has received numerous honours and awards throughout his career, including honorary doctorates from prestigious universities worldwide, such as Oxford, Cambridge, and Harvard, the University of Dundee and the University of Malta. Нe was Rhodes Scholar.
In 1992, he became the first recipient of the Capire Prize in Europe, for outstanding achievement.
In 1994, he was presented the Pioneer Prize in the field of Thinking, at the International Conference on Thinking at MIT, Boston.
In 1995, he was honoured with the National Order of Merit by the President of Malta.
In 2000 he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
In 2005, he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Economics.
In 2009 he was appointed an ambassador for the European Year of Creativity and Innovation.
He has also been awarded the Sir Misha Black Medal honours those who have given distinguished services to design education and the Golden Gavel Award from Toastmasters International.
1. The Use of Lateral Thinking (1967), introduced the term “lateral thinking”
2. The Five-Day Course in Thinking (1968), introduced the L game
3. “The Mechanism of Mind” (1969) This book popularized the concept of “lateral thinking. Here he developed the model of the brain on which all his thinking-skills programmes are based,
4. “Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step” (1970) This book popularized the concept of lateral thinking and introduced many of the techniques associated with it.
5. Po: A Device for Successful Thinking (1972
6. “Po: Beyond Yes and No” (1973) – In this book, de Bono introduced the concept of “po,” which he described as a third alternative to “yes” and “no.”
7. “Eureka!: An Illustrated Guide to Discovering Creative Breakthroughs” (1974) This book explores the history of invention and creativity, and how they have influenced society.
8. “Six Thinking Hats” (1985) The book introduces a method for group discussion and decision-making that is based on the use of six different kinds of thinking
9. “I Am Right, You Are Wrong: From This to the New Renaissance: From Rock Logic to Water Logic” (1991) The book introduces water logic which is a more flexible, cooperative, and constructive way of thinking
10. “Serious Creativity: Using the Power of Lateral Thinking to Create New Ideas” (1992)- a summation of many of De Bono’s ideas on creativity
11. Teach Your Child How to Think (1992) In this book, de Bono provides advice on how parents can help their children develop critical thinking skills.
12. Parallel Thinking: From Socratic to De Bono Thinking Hardcover (1994). In this book, he introduces the concept of parallel thinking as an alternative to traditional adversarial thinking to enhance collaboration and improve decision-making.
12. “Teach Yourself to Think” (1995). This book provides practical advice and exercises for improving one’s thinking ability.
13. “Simplicity” (1998) This book explores the value of simplicity in thinking and communication and provides advice on how to achieve it.
14. How to Have a Beautiful Mind (2004) is a practical guide for improving one’s thinking ability
15. The Six Value Medals: The Essential Tool for Success in the 21st Century (2005) – In this book, de Bono introduces the concept of “value medals,” which are six different values that can be used to evaluate decisions and actions.
Career and personal life:
Family background: Edward de Bono was born on 19 May 1933 in Valletta on the Mediterranean island of Malta.
He was the son of Joseph Edward, a physician and Josephine (maiden name, Burns) de Bono (1908-1996). His father, a seventh-generation Maltese physician, a studious, thoughtful man, was a Professor of Medicine at the University of Malta and had a large general practice. His mother was Irish-born, a journalist, feminist, and women’s suffrage activist on the island.
Edward used to say: “When I went into medicine, I continued a family tradition. My father’s in medicine, my grandfather’s in medicine, and my three uncles are in medicine. So in my career, these two things came together; the courage to do things and the academic side”. He was born the second of four brothers and also had one sister. As a child, de Bono displayed a keen curiosity and a natural inclination towards creative thinking
During the Second World War, Malta was severely bombed and he spent many nights sleeping in an air raid shelter. It was a hard wartime and as there were no new toys, he began looking at his old toys and other things with imagination to ascribe new qualities to them.
Education background: Edward de Bono was a prodigy. At school, he was nicknamed ‘The Genius’. From the age of 7, he attended St Edward’s College, a Maltese boarding school run along English lines.
At the age of 15, he entered the Royal University of Malta to study medicine,
where he received his B.Sc. (1953) and M.D., medical degree (1955).
Following this, he proceeded as a Rhodes Scholar in 1955 to Christ Church, Oxford, where he gained an MA (1957) in psychology and physiology. He represented Oxford in polo and set two canoeing records.
He then gained a PhD degree (1961) in medicine from Trinity College, Cambridge, an honorary DDes (Doctor of Design) from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and an honorary LLD from the University of Dundee.
After completing his studies, Edward de Bono took up a role as a research assistant (1957–60), in the Department of the Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford, while studying for a DPhil in Medicine, as well as working there as a junior lecture (1960–61); in medicine.
In 1961 however, he moved from there and began teaching at the University of London and worked there until 1963.
By the time his first book, The Use of Lateral Thinking, was published in 1967, he was assistant director of research in the Department of Investigative Medicine at the University of Cambridge, England. He held the position of assistant director from 1963 to1976
and from 1976 to 1983 he worked there as a lecturer in medicine.
In 1983, he finally left his job at Cambridge University and succumbed to the call from big business, launching the first International Conference on Thinking.
He then fully focused on developing his theories and conducting research on creativity and problem-solving.
He later went on to work as a consultant and speaker and has worked with such giants as IBM, Prudential, DuPont, Merck, Nestlé, British Airways and BAA, marshalled his work worldwide.
De Bono has travelled extensively, delivering lectures, conducting workshops, and consulting with organizations worldwide to enhance creative thinking and innovation.
He was a professor at the University of Malta, the University of Pretoria, the University of Central England (now called Birmingham City University) and Dublin City University. De Bono held the Da Vinci Professor of Thinking chair at the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, in Phoenix in the USA. Edward De Bono had held faculty positions at the universities of Harvard.
He was the Honorary director and founding member of Cognitive Research Trust, 1971; secretary-general of the Supranational Independent Thinking Organisation (SITO), 1983; founder of the International Creative Forum, 1990. In 1996, a de Bono Institute was established as a centre for new thinking.
A special place in Edward de Bono’s career is occupied by his work in medicine. he was a Research Associate and honorary registrar, St. Thomas Hospital Medical School, University of London; a research associate, at Harvard Medical School; an honorary consultant, at Boston City Hospital, 1965–66.
He was a member of the Medical Research Society and the exclusive Athenaeum Club.
Working in Medicine gave him an insight into how the self-organising system of the brain works and what impacts and provocations would make a difference in our thinking. Dr. de Bono argued that Psychology is all description and there’s no underlying system from which you can derive mechanisms and interventions. “So the medical background was, in fact, very useful. That’s why it’s been possible to create a more systematic approach, a more formal and deliberate approach”.
He identified the brain as a self-organizing information system, that forms asymmetrical patterns. His background in self-organizing systems led him to derive an understanding which he then applied to the neural networks of the brain.
In 1971 he married Josephine Hall-White. They had two sons, Caspar and Charlie. They later divorced.
His will, published after his death, named two more children, another son, Edward Szekely, also known as Edward de Bono, the son of Magdalena Szekely, and a daughter, Juliana Pars.
He is known for his unconventional and innovative approach to life and has been quoted as saying that he likes to “walk sideways” through life rather than following established paths.
He preferred to keep his personal life private, focusing primarily on his work. Edward de Bono’s passing on 9 June 2021.
Personality: Edward de Bono is known for his innovative and creative thinking style and relentless pursuit of creativity. He is described as a visionary, always challenging conventional wisdom and seeking new ways to approach problems and generate ideas.
He had the ability to be thoughtful and provocative at the same time. He is also known for his persistence, punctuality and dedication to his work. Edward was bent on liberating the world from judgmental and prejudicial thinking. ‘Teaching the world to think,’ he said. ‘It has to be done!’
Secrets of success: Edward de Bono’s success is based on his innovative thinking and his ability to communicate complex ideas in a clear and accessible way. He was a skilled communicator and storyteller. The use of humour was an intrinsic part of his presentations. he used his time well, writing, inventing, and planning on planes, en route to conferences.
Zest, Interesting facts:
In 1995, he created the futuristic documentary film ’2040- Possibilities by Edward De Bono’, This documentary was intended to prepare the audience for the process of being released from cryogenic freeze cells in the future.
He was convinced that the betterment of humanity would eventually be through better language. Thus, he published the book, The Edward de Bono Code Book.
Hobbies and other interests: He excelled in sport, being excellent at cricket, rowing and polo where he met HRH Prince Phillip at the Sandringham Polo Club. He also liked polo, canoeing, and travel. De Bono was an accomplished pianist and has written about the role of music in creativity.
Edward de Bono was not too modest. He claimed that he helped the Los Angeles Olympics organizers to achieve great financial success. And even the Berlin Wall, according to him, might not have fallen, apparently, without his influence. “On my mother’s side,” de Bono said, “it’s possible I’m descended from Napoleon.”
Some of his advice was deliberately provocative. For example, he suggested the Arab-Israeli conflict might be addressed by shipping out jars of Marmite yeast extract to remedy an aggression-inducing zinc deficiency.
His success brought him great wealth, his property included the Bahamas, Italy, Australia, and Ireland; apartments in New York, Venice and Sydney; and houses in Norfolk, South Kensington and Malta.
The International Astronomical Union named a planet after Dr. de Bono in recognition of his contribution to humanity.
Asteroid 2541 Edebono discovered by Luboš Kohoutek is named after him.
There are 4 million references to Edward de Bono on the Internet.