Old Thinking and New Thinking

I find it fascinating when I mention to some people that I’m an avid user of, and trainer in, Edward de Bono’s serious creativity thinking tools, and they say things like ‘Really? de Bono’s methods are so old hat these days (pun usually intended)’.  

Of course this almost always comes from people who may have heard Edward speak, or been to a de Bono Institute tools training course, but haven’t taken the time or had the discipline to effectively use even his best known techniques such as Lateral Thinking or Six Thinking Hats.

What’s even more fascinating is when I ask them what ‘new thinking techniques’ they are using, most struggle with a definitive answer.  Or they fall back to the usual strategic planning methods such as Porter’s Five Forces, 360 Degree Feedback, and even SWOT/TOWS.
Some people will mention Fore Sighting, Critical Thinking, and Mind Mapping, and very rarely things like TRIZ, Synectics, Morphological Analysis, or profiling tools such as HBDI or FourSight.

The interesting thing is that many of these techniques have been around longer than de Bono’s tools, and most are only partly applicable to the skill of Deliberate Creative Thinking.  What’s more is that when I press people on what they actually use day to day, I find that basically they continue to use the traditional methods of argument, judgement and classification rooted in the Greek classical thinking developed more than 2000 years ago.
Now that is old thinking!

I’m not denying the value of traditional thinking, or many of the different methodologies for strategy development, problem solving etc.  But de Bono methods are certainly not ‘old hat’.
The challenge for many is that the tools Edward has developed are generally simple to understand, but not always easy to apply.  This is because they require discipline and focus, and it takes time and effort to make these part of your standard toolkit for thinking.

What I find is that people ‘get’ de Bono tools pretty quickly, but struggle to use them in effective ways.  Which is a great shame.  Personally and professionally I’ve been using techniques like Lateral Thinking and Six Thinking since first meeting Edward in about 1986. I use these and other tools in most of my facilitation work, and have trained groups, or presented to audiences, in more than 10 countries.

The difference I bring to the work I do is I focus on the When and Why of these valuable techniques, as well as the How they work.  Application is the key to successful learning and results, and that is what I focus on in all the training I do.  

Ask yourself what thinking tools and techniques you use each day, and then consider if having a few more tools in your tool kit, that you know how to use, would be of value to you and others around you.

My upcoming Leadership Victoria programs on Serious Creativity: Applying de Bono Thinking Tools and Strategic Thinking are not simple tools training workshops. Instead we’ll focus on application – yes we need to understand the techniques, but understanding is not enough. Action and application is what is needed, and that is what I’ll focus on.