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Understanding Edward de Bono's Principles - Lateral Thinking

By Andrew Loh



"Creative thinking is not a talent; it is a skill that can be learnt. It empowers people by adding strength to their natural abilities that improves teamwork, productivity and where appropriate profits." - Edward de Bono

Thinking is perhaps the most significant mental activity in men. Whatever the human achievements and progress you see, it is all due to the thought processes in human brain. The great evolution in history, arts, culture, tradition, science and medicines are possible because of human thoughts. Though always precedes action and both of them are inseparable. All actions start soon after a spell of thinking. Thinking is always deliberate, though some types of thinking are subconscious. To start initiating an action, you must see it in your mind's inner eye. You should be able to imagine it in your mind before taking any action. All great creations started in people's mind.

The purpose of thinking is very simple. The main purpose of thinking is to arrive at a point where thinking process is no more necessary. In simple words, thinking always initiates itself with a problem at hand and it always ends with a solution. The thinking process differs with different people. Some people have a high degree of thinking that can be too sophisticated, while many others may not have a marked degree of thinking. In children, thinking process is very rudimentary and primitive, especially in children under the age of ten years.

The thinking process is an inbuilt mechanism that allows us to solve any complex problem. To solve complex problem, you must apply your thinking skills to arrive at possible solutions. However, thinking process may not be too sophisticated among all people. Better thinking skills mean better problem solving abilities. Now, the big question is very straightforward can we improve our thinking ability?

Dr. Edward de Bono thinks that it is possible to enhance one's ability to think in a productive and result oriented manner. He believes that you can improve skills just like any other skills because thinking as per the experts is a skill! Like adults, even children will need to improve their thinking skills. It is possible to improve and enhance your children's thinking skills by using Edward de Bono's lateral thinking processes.

The benefits of thinking are immense and numerous. By enhancing thinking skills in your children, they can have the following benefits:

  • Achieve those things that you think are impossible

  • Shine in both professional and personal life

  • Attain social and emotional stability

  • Attain a sense of physiological maturity

  • Control anger and aggression in children

  • Perform better in academics and classrooms

  • Achieve excellence in any type of work environment

Edward de Bono believes that lateral thinking can help your children achieve intelligence and smartness. According to him, there are two main types of thinking vertical thinking and lateral thinking. There are several differences between these two types of thinking; vertical thinking belongs to high probability thinking, while lateral thinking belongs to low probability thinking.

By using vertical thinking, you can choose and select the most possible, common and normal solution which is also logical and obvious. Most people use this mode to find solutions to their problems. For example, let us consider the following scenario:

Let us say that you want to cut a pound of cake into two pieces. Most people would use a knife to cut the cake into two. In normal circumstances, this is the most obvious solution for many people. Most people use the concept of vertical thinking to solve the pending problem. However, some people are smart and efficient in finding alternative solutions. They can find the most non-obvious methods or techniques to solve the problem, which is to cut the cake into two pieces. For example, some people who excel in lateral thinking can cut the cake even by using a twine!

Dr. de Bono proposes that creativity aspects can only come though lateral thinking. According to Dr. De Bono, you can help your child improve lateral thinking by making them to apply different techniques in a deliberate manner. He proposes two main techniques towards this line of thinking:

To sole different problems in creative form, you can:

  • Divide the problems into small sub sets or minor problems. This mode allows your children to think about the problem as a whole and later approach each problem on an individual basis. It is also possible for them to consider different parameters and paradigms of the problem.

  • The next step is to transfer or move attention from one part of the problem to the other. This step helps your children to shift attention from one part of the problem to another that eventually helps them to look at the whole problems, with a different perspective and angle.

In the end, finding a solution to the problem depends on one's ability to think and devise a plan in the mind. The quality of thinking process that you adapt to solve the problem, ultimately decides the efficacy and quality of the solution. Thinking always leads to action. Action will end in solutions! Hence, right type of thinking can lead to most suitable solutions that are more practical and result oriented. Continue to read Applying Edward De Bono's Principles - Lateral Thinking



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