Thinking Managers

Edward de Bono of www.thinkingmanagers.comconsiders what it takes for managers to take lateral thinking and creative ideas seriously?

Lateral Thinking & Creativity

Some people have a seemingly natural curiosity and motivation towards creativity.  But for true creativity, this general motivation must be taken further, and lateral thinking can be effective in achieving that.

Creative people could use their motivation, attitude and useful habits to greater effect with the formal tools of creativity.

Organisations regularly claim that they have all the new ideas they need.  Creativity can be uncertain, and corporations do not like uncertainty.

Some businesses believe in osmosis, whereby they let other companies try out new ideas and then adopt them if they are successful.  New ideas are absorbed through an ‘osmosis’ process, even if this is not a conscious process.
In other words, companies do not want new ideas; they want ‘successful new ideas’.

The public service sector is especially bad at adopting new ideas; any new idea must be in response to the weight of statistics or to the demands of public and political pressure.

But the public sector is where new ideas are needed the most.  New ideas are needed to deliver better results within the same budget.  New ideas are needed to restructure and simplify processes and so improve economy and efficiency.

It is harder to show direct results with lateral thinking.  It is, however, possible to show a greatly increased output of ideas. But it is impossible to measure the effect of these ideas unless they are tried and tested.

The natural thinking habits we use rely on analysis and judgment.  A situation is analysed in order to identify any standard element, and then a standard answer is applied.  This is fine, but not enough on its own.

It is true that any useful creative idea can be explained logically with hindsight; otherwise it would not have been useful.  But it does not follow that the creative idea could have been arrived at logically.  To benefit from creative thinking, managers therefore need to apply different rules to the application of ideas.

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.