Intention is insufficient


This year's World Economic Forum in Davos had the excellent theme of 'The Creative Imperative'.

People are finally beginning to realise that the gathering and analysis of data is not enough. It is necessary to develop new concepts and ideas.

So the intention is there to apply creativity to specific areas. This is excellent but insufficient by itself. It is necessary to go beyond paying lip service to creativity.

There are misconceptions about creativity. It isn't a bolt from the blue while sitting by the river. Powerful tools and methods can be used to achieve creativity.

The majority of people don't have a great deal of knowledge about creativity. They don't think that ideas can be produced to order.

But creativity isn't a mysterious force. It is the behaviour of information in a self-organising system making asymmetric patterns. From this basis, the deliberate tools of lateral thinking were developed.

Unfortunately, there is a big gap between the acknowledgement that creativity is essential and the knowledge of how to achieve it.

Idea creativity, rather than artistic creativity, can be taught in a formal way, just like maths. There are 1,200 of my trainers over the world doing just that.

Provocation is a mathematical necessity in any self-organising system. Without it we get rooted in local equilibriums. Provocation is different from normal thinking in that we are permitted to say something which we know to be wrong.

So we could say: 'Po planes land upside down'. Following on from this could be an interesting idea that could avoid a number of aeroplane accidents.

'Po' is a word I came up with to signal a provocation. You do not use judgement with provocation; you use a new mental operation called 'movement'. From the initial idea you move forward towards possibility and value.

Formal methods can be used to set up provocation. 'Reversal' is one of them, whereby you reverse the normal direction of an action. So if planes land upside down, a reversal would be for them to land backwards.

Through provocation in lateral thinking, you can expand your own thinking. You don't need a group; you can achieve creativity by yourself.

It is not enough to say that creativity is important and then do nothing. So what are you going to do?

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About The Author

Edward de Bono
Edward de Bono

Edward de Bono is a leading authority in the field of creative thinking. Over 35 years after the publication of his first book, "The Mechanism of Mind", the basic principles he outlined are now mainstream thinking in the mathematics of self-organising systems and in the design of neuro-computers. His many subsequent books have been translated into 26 languages.