I went to a talk by Edward de Bono yesterday. He’s on a week’s visit taking time out of his world-hopping schedule. It’s always enlightening to hear him and you come away wishing you’d studied his creative, lateral, parallel and ‘Six Thinking Hats’ methods of thinking. Life could be so much simpler or richer, perhaps. His approaches are at once easy to grasp yet not; easy to imagine implementing, and then again, for most of us, near impossible to do so in our daily routine. Can you work to his systems alone or do you need a groundswell of ‘de Bono’ adherents to put things into practice?
At least for an hour today listening to him, I was thinking, not ‘just doing’, as Nike puts it. De Bono’s answer to my queries above came when he said that creative thinking takes discipline, and training. One needn’t have innate talent to embrace it. Phew!
Dr Edward de Bono is Malta’s 20th century icon; our only world-renowned brand and personage. There are of course others who pass muster on some international stages – there’s Dom Mintoff (a former Labour Party prime minister) whose name some people overseas still mutter in connection with Malta; and Frank Zarb, a US citizen born of Maltese emigre parents, who was chairman of the NASDAQ in the dotcom boom and bust years. But no one comes close to de Bono fame. His biog says he’s been chosen as one of the 250 people who has most contributed in humanity’s history.
De Bono, now aged 76, was still the smooth speaker he was when I interviewed him around 15 years back one sultry August when he was in Malta for his annual month of book writing (he’s prolific; one or two a year). He presented yesterday using an aged overhead projector and acetate slides. His point is that we often confuse technological power for the power of creative thinking. No laptop and PowerPoint for him. He had four coloured pens and scribbled away to illustrate his points, projector whirring noisily.
He talks with colourful examples of his thinking systems in action; name-dropping excused as this is a man who has sat and advised world leaders, Nobel Prize winners and chief economists and executives for well over 40 years.
Today, he was addressing a small hall of local IT students. He starts with a joke, and flashes a few inches of jaunty socks and wears a tie which seems to have the letters of the word ‘thinking’ strewn over it. His only trappings of the arty interpretation of creativity; de Bono’s definition of the word is about sensing or creating value, not aesthetics.
De Bono is fleetingly ‘home’ in Malta. It’s a place he’s always been keen to be associated with, for all his world travel and fame. The newest venture he’s set up, The World Centre for New Thinking has its seat in Malta, at Bighi, an old British naval building overlooking Grand Harbour. Its website says ‘from the oldest civilisation, comes the newest thinking’. I like the strapline, but do wonder to what extent this oldest of civilisations is putting this new thinking into practice. May be just doing is the hardest part after all!
Further info, see: The World Centre for New Thinking and also Edward de Bono’s portal.
Dr Edward de Bono was speaking at STC Training Ltd, Malta, which runs courses in creative thinking and innovation.
Photo: Courtesy of STC Training Ltd