Thinking Managers

Edward de Bono of considers the difference between analysis and design.

A Different Focus

There are two kinds of focus in creative and lateral thinking. The first I call ‘purpose’ focus. In other words, we know the purpose of our thinking. We know what we are trying to achieve. Two examples of this are problem-solving and task-fulfilment.

The second type of focus I call ‘area’ focus. That is when we do not have a clear idea of our goal. We only know the point from which we are starting from and the area we are looking at. The only destination in mind is to find new ideas in a certain area, which is a very broad destination.

Let’s say our focus is for new ideas for soap. Take a bar of soap and ask questions like:

Why is it so big? Could there be value in providing a variety of smaller bars?

Why is the surface smooth? Could a slightly rougher surface add value by removing dead skin?

Could it hold its own water so you could use it instantly? How could you achieve this?

Once you have taken the first creative step then the mental operation of ‘movement’ takes over. Movement represents an important aspect of lateral thinking and provocation. Any step defines a fresh direction and we pursue that direction to see where it goes.

At all times part of our mind should be used to ‘extract the concept’. Once the concept is defined then we can then look at methods of delivering it. Also we should always be looking for value and judging how strong it is.

When things are going well and there are no problems that we know of, complacency sets in and creativity takes a back seat. However, choosing to focus on things that are taken for granted and have no obvious problems can be very productive. It is likely that no-one has thought about it for a long time so some ‘new thinking’ can be very rewarding.
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.