The keys to creativity

May 24 2007 by Edward de Bono Print This Article

There are three things that are necessary for creativity; motivation, thinking skills and lateral thinking. Let's look at each in greater detail.


First, there must be a desire to come up with new ideas. You must want to be creative. Problems that need to be solved can be a motivation for creativity.

Motivation can also come from believing that things can be done more easily, which could mean faster or cheaper, etc.

Simplicity is an important aspect to creativity. Things get more and more complicated over time, so there is a need for a deliberate effort to make them simpler Ė motivation can arise from this.

Thinking Skills and Habits

It is important to see connections and possibilities when they are not obvious.

Although much neglected in education, 'possibilities' are a very important part of thinking. Information and logic are not enough by themselves.

Lateral Thinking

Lateral thinking is a deliberate creative technique that can be learnt and used to generate new ideas. It is based on an understanding of the brain as a self-organising system that creates asymmetric patterns. Anyone can learn lateral thinking techniques and use them.

The techniques work best when the aforementioned habits of mind have been developed. Then creativity becomes easier. The techniques alone will work without these habits of mind but they will be far less effective.

Complacency and satisfaction are related but very different in meaning. Satisfaction suggests that things are going well and you are happy with the status quo. Complacency means that you are happy with the status quo and are not looking to make any improvements.

Improvement can arise from dissatisfaction. If you are dissatisfied it means that you have to look for a way forward. You have a problem to solve or improvements to make.

Unfortunately, too many executives believe that if there is no problem then there is no need for thinking or creativity. That is complacency.

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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.