Thinking Managers

Edward de Bono of www.thinkingmanagers.comasks whether we should make creativity part of our usual thinking behaviour, or should we keep it separate and only ‘switch’ when required?

Creative Thinking

Creativity requires possibility and potential alternatives. Normal thinking requires truth, instant judgment and definitive choice. If we combine these almost opposite habits of mind, will it weaken both of them?

The Japanese way is to keep them separate. The thinker deliberately goes into creative mode. With this approach, the danger is that you are only creative in those formal situations which you have decided require a measure of creativity and that at other times creativity is absent.

However, the switching mode makes it much easier to learn how to think creatively. For example, you can learn the process of provocation without having to unlearn logical progression.

Each step follows logically from the one before it in normal thinking. With provocation, there might not be a reason for saying something until after it has been said; its use is justified by the provocation.
So there are advantages and drawbacks when it comes to the separation of thinking into defined and stated modes. But instead of choosing, why can’t you have both?

Well, it is possible to have both. You can have a formal creative thinking mode which you switch into deliberately, and at the same time you can integrate aspects of creative thinking into your daily thinking behaviour.

You can add aspects of the formal tools of lateral thinking to your everyday thinking so long as they are also kept as part of deliberate creativity. Looking for the underlying concept and for different ways of delivering that concept can become part of normal thinking.

You also need a very efficient and effective ‘creative thinking mode’ to switch into deliberately and formally and it is valuable to have the ability to incorporate some of the attitudes of lateral thinking into daily judgmental thinking.

The Japanese way helps demonstrate that creativity does not have to be spontaneous and unplanned; it can become a discipline that we can learn and develop to use at will.

About the author
Edward de Bono is the world's leading authority in the field of creative thinking and the teaching of thinking as a skill.