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
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
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 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