Thinking Managers

Edward de Bono of explains why it is not enough just to have the intention to be creative when new ideas and new concepts are needed.

The Insufficiency Of Intention

The World Economic Forum in Davos this year had the excellent theme of 'The Creative Imperative'.
Finally, it is being recognised that the gathering and analysis of data is insufficient in itself. New concepts and ideas have to be developed.

So we have the attention to apply creativity to specific areas, which is excellent but not enough. We need to go further than paying lip service to creativity.

Misconceptions exist regarding creativity. It has nothing to do with a bolt from the blue sitting by the river to a Baroque soundtrack. You can employ powerful tools and methods to achieve creativity.

Most people do not know much about creativity and do not think that ideas can be produced on demand. But creativity is no mystical force. It is simply the behaviour of information in a self-organising system making asymmetric patterns, from which basis the deliberate tools of lateral thinking were devised.

It is a shame that a big gap exists between the realisation that creativity is essential and the knowledge of how it can be achieved.

You can teach idea creativity, as opposed to artistic creativity, in a formal style. Over 1,200 of my trainers all over the world are doing exactly that.

In any self-organising system provocation is necessary. We get bogged down in local equilibriums without it. Provocation differs from ordinary thinking in that we are allowed to say something that is obviously incorrect.

We can say: 'Po planes land upside down'. From this we could reach an interesting idea that could prevent aeroplane accidents.

I came up with the word 'po' to signify a provocation. Instead of using judgement with provocation, you use a new mental operation: 'movement'. You move forward from the initial idea to reach possibility and value.

You can use formal methods to set up provocation, one of them being 'reversal'. With reversal you reverse the usual direction of an action: if planes land upside down, a reversal has them landing backwards.

Provocation and lateral thinking can expand your thinking. You can be creative all by yourself.

Saying that creativity is important is not enough. You have to do something about it.

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.