Edward de Bono, Lateral Thinking (1970)
Maltese expert in creativity based in Britain (pictured right) who coined the term “lateral thinking” in this
Edward de Bono in the Management Gurus section.
What is lateral thinking?
The deliberate generation of new ideas and the abandonment of old ones.
Why is it important?
It is vital to creativity.
How is it achieved?
1. Choosing attention areas (the problems) and entry points (the first
area of attention)
- the inconvenience of using an umbrella could be...
- an entry point for another solution to keeping dry in the rain.
2. Challenging assumptions, ideas and clichés
You do this by looking at a problem and asking:
- what does this really mean?
- how else could we do this?
- why does it have to be done this way?
- are there better ways of doing it?
- what are the alternatives?
3. Identifying key ideas and crucial factors
For example, air travel:
4. Using analogies
Using comparable situations to solve a problem
For example, using a hobby like stamp collecting to improve administration.
Dividing a problem into different parts.
For example, transport by bus can be divided into:
6. The reversal method
Reversing the situation.
- customers helping shop assistants.
- patients helping doctors.
7. Provocation (“po”)
This provokes new ways of thinking by:
- comparing two unrelated things (juxtaposition).
- changing the course of a discussion with completely new points (disconnected jumps).
- asking ‘what if?’ or ‘suppose?’ questions.
- re-constructing a problem - for example, emphasizing brain power in policing by
employing one-armed policemen.
- introducing a random word (random stimulation).
- concentrating on unlikely possibilities – for example, everyone can live to a
- deliberate incorrectness.
Key quotes on creativity
The most basic principle of lateral thinking is that any particular way of looking at things is only one from
among any other possible ways.
The only available method for changing ideas is conflict.
Lateral thinking is provocative.
Nothing is sacred.