Talent, skill and lateral thinking

Dec 22 2006 by Edward de Bono Print This Article

There are people who have a seemingly natural curiosity and motivation towards creativity. For true creativity, however, you must go far beyond this general motivation, and lateral thinking can help you do that.

Creative people, with their motivation, attitude and some useful habits, could do so much more if they also acquired the formal tools of creativity.

Companies often claim that they have all the new ideas they need. Creativity is often an unknown quantity, and corporations do not like to be at the mercy of an uncertainty.

There are also businesses which believe in osmosis; they let others try out the new ideas and if they are successful, they then adopt the ideas. New ideas are absorbed through an 'osmosis' process, even if this is not conscious.

Put simply, corporations do not want new ideas; they want 'successful new ideas'.

The situation is even worse in the public service sector, where any new idea must be in response to the weight of statistics or to the demands of public and political pressure.

But new ideas are sorely needed in the public sector. There is a need for new ideas which can deliver better results within the same budget. There is a need for new ideas that can restructure and simplify processes and so improve economy and efficiency.

With lateral thinking it is harder to show direct results. It is possible to show a vastly increased output of ideas. But you cannot measure the effect of these ideas unless they are tried and tested.

The skill of lateral thinking can be learned, practised and developed. It is formal creativity based on the logic of asymmetric systems.

Our natural thinking habits rely on analysis and judgment. A situation is analysed in order to identify any standard element, and then you apply the standard answer. This is excellent, but it is not sufficient.

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About The Author

Edward de Bono
Edward de Bono

Edward de Bono (1933-2021) was 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.