Thinking Managers

Edward de Bono of argues that while logic and creativity may at times conflict, they are not mutually exclusive.

Perceptual Shift Required For Creativity

Because any valuable creative idea proves logical in hindsight, logicians will argue that logic should be able to produce the idea in the first place. Therefore, they say, creativity is unnecessary.

Creativity is often ignored by philosophers because of this inability to distinguish between hindsight and foresight. However, in an asymmetric patterning system, whatever might be obvious and logical in hindsight might be invisible in foresight.

But now for the first time in human thinking, we can view idea creativity as the behaviour of thought in the brain’s neural networks, so there is no longer any mystery.

The formal and deliberate tools of lateral thinking can be designed from this knowledge. These tools are all completely logical; however, it is the logic of patterning systems. Logic represents the behaviour within a defined system – usually language.

According to Goedel’s theorem, the starting points from within any system can never be proved as they are merely arbitrary perceptions. Therefore, it doesn’t matter how logical you are; you won’t be able to do any better than your perceptions allow.

Given this importance of perception, you might think greater effort would be put into the teaching and training of it. However, virtually no effort is made whatsoever, other than at those schools already using my CoRT Thinking Programme to develop perception.

Research by the Atkey Organisation suggests that using this programme as a separate subject can improve performance in every other subject by 30% to 100%.

The Church at the time of the Renaissance is the source of our thinking habits. The Church controlled the schools, universities and most thinking and it took logic, truth and argument from the Greek philosophers because it needed those tools to prove heretics wrong. Because of this, there has been no strand of perceptual thinking, creative thinking or design thinking in Western education.

‘Possibilities’ are crucial when it comes to perception, with a relationship similar to that of truth and logic. You can look at something in a certain way and conceive the possibility of looking at it in a different way at the same time.

Other possible perceptions can be kept in mind even as you take practical action based on your initial perception.

Take the following hypothetical scenario: you are in a foreign city and a stranger offers you help. You might be gracious in accepting the help but at the same time you bear in mind the possibility that the stranger intends to trick you or even rob you.

Possibility, rather than truth, is the basis of perception. You can act as if one possibility were the only option available to you, while at the same time considering it just one possibility amongst many.

While our obsession with truth is quite practical, it has the negative effect of making us anxious to decide on one perception and ignore all the others.

Perception represents reality even when it is not real. We have little choice but to react to our perceptions, which means the ability to change perceptions via creativity is vitally important.

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.