Thinking Course by Edward DeBono

Lateral Thinking

The quickest and the most reliable way to be rewarded for intelligence is to prove someone else wrong. Such a strategy gives you an immediate result and also establishes your superiority. Being constructive is much less rewarding. It may take years to show that a new idea works. Further more you have to depend on the listener liking your idea. So it is obvious that being critical and destructive is much more appealing use of intelligence. This is made even worse by the absurd western notion that ‘critical thinking’ is enough.
Analysis, judgement and argument are not enough.

Critical destruction has never produced a better one. It is creativity that produces the better hypothesis.

Perception is how we look at the world.

Professor David Perkins at Harvard has shown that almost all the errors of thinking are errors of perception. In real life logical errors quite rare. Yet we persist in believing that thinking is all a matter of avoiding logical errors.

If your perception is limited then flawless logic will give you an incorrect answer.

Perception works as a ‘self-organising information system.’

The tool method is much easier and more effective than other methods of teaching.

Teaching people to avoid mistake is very limited. You could avoid all mistakes in driving by leaving the car in the garage.

The PMI tool-

Exhorting people to take a balanced view is not very effective.

P stands for Plus or the good points

M stands for Minus or the bad points

I stands for Interesting or the interesting points.

PMI is an attention directing tool.

PMI is the first of CORT lessons. CORT stands for Cognitive Research Trust.

The PMI sets the mood of objectivity and scanning. The ‘I’ encourages he deliberate habit of exploring the matter outside the judgement framework. Another aspect of ‘I’ is to see if the idea leads to another idea. I trains the mind to react to the interest inherent in a idea and not just to judgement things about the idea. A thinker should be able to say: ‘ I do not like your idea but there are these interesting aspects to it..’.

As a habit of mind the PMI is specifically designed to force us to scan in those situations where otherwise, we should deem scanning unnecessary.
The PMI is useful because it is more oblique than direct disagreement or confrontation.

The APC tool-

A stands for Alternatives

P stands for Possibilities

C stands for Choices

Contentment with an adequate solution or approach is the biggest block there is to any search for a better alternative.

Proof may be no more than lack of imagination.

Through APC anything can be simplified or made more effective or productive.

1. Do an APC (review style) on the packaging of chocolate bars

2. Do an APC on the design of a telephone

I am told that there is an old Jewish saying which states that if there are two courses of action, you should always take the third.

Sir Robert Watson-Watt, the father of radar, had a saying, you get an idea today, you get a better idea tomorrow, you get the best idea never..

There is a need of practical cut-offs and deadlines and the freezing of designs.

But is you never generate alternatives you never have a choice.

Generating alternatives opens up possibilities.

We need it even more because the patterning nature of the mind seeks certainty-not alternatives.

What is the main purpose of thinking? The main purpose of thinking is to abolish thinking.

--Lumpers are those people who tend to group thinking together by focusing on common features.
--Splitters are those people who tend to separate thinking out by focusing on points of difference.

Edward De Bono first brought the term Lateral Thinking during an interview in 1967.

Lateral thinking is both an attitude of mind and also a number of defined methods.

The attitude of mind involves the willingness to try to look at things in different ways. It involves the appreciation that any way of looking at things is only one amongst many possible ways.

General use of lateral thinking-
The three methods: ‘stepping stone’, ‘escape’ and ‘random stimulation’.

Stepping stone method-for its movement value instead of its judgement value.
Escape method-willing to improve them or escape from them.
Random simulation method we open ourselves to influences other than those we directly look for.
Two other tools, CAF (consider all factors) and C&S (consequences and sequel). These tools were designed to counter the tendency for thinking to be ego-centric and very short-term.
In doing CAF, emphasis is on ‘what has been left out?’ and ‘what ought to be considered?’

Thinking is almost always short-term because the attraction or repulsion of a course of action is immediate.

Dense reading and dense listening.

Very few people are good listeners. A good listener listens slowly to what is being said. He does not jump ahead nor does he rush to judge nor does he sit there formulating his reply. He focuses directly on what is being said. He listens to more than being said. He extracts the maximum information from what hears by looking in between the words used and wondering why something has been expressed in a particular way. Dense reading is like dense listening. Dense reading involves a lot of thinking.


Questions fall into two categories-Shooting question (SQ) in which we know what we are aiming to get, yes or no, etc. Fishing question (FQ) we dangle the bait in the water and wait for what we can get.

FI-FO- in-formation-in, in- formation-out
There should be as much consciousness of the information that is not available as there is of the information that is available.

Exlectics seek to lead out or pull-out of the situation, what is of value –no matter on which side it is to be found. With exlectics emphasis would be on ‘designing forward’ rather than on judgement at each stage.

EBS stands for examine both sides. ADI stands for Agreement, Disagreement and Irrelevance.
OPV stands for other people’s views.
THERE IS LOT MORE TO LEARN AND PRACTICE FROM DeBono's Lateral thinking course.