EDWARD DE BONO AND THE

MECHANISM OF MIND
BOOKS BY PETER FRITZ WALTER

SOVEREIGN IMMUNITY LITIGATION

COACHING YOUR INNER CHILD

THE LEADERSHIP I CHING

LEADERSHIP & CAREER IN THE 21ST CENTURY

CREATIVE-C LEARNING

INTEGRATE YOUR EMOTIONS

KRISHNAMURTI AND THE PSYCHOLOGICAL REVOLUTION

THE NEW PARADIGM IN BUSINESS, LEADERSHIP AND CAREER

THE NEW PARADIGM IN CONSCIOUSNESS AND SPIRITUALITY

THE NEW PARADIGM IN SCIENCE AND SYSTEMS THEORY

THE VIBRANT NATURE OF LIFE

SHAMANIC WISDOM MEETS THE WESTERN MIND

CREATIVE GENIUS

THE BETTER LIFE

SERVANT LEADERSHIP

CREATIVE LEARNING AND CAREER

FRITJOF CAPRA AND THE SYSTEMS VIEW OF LIFE

FRANÇOISE DOLTO AND CHILD PSYCHOANALYSIS

EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND
EDWARD
DE BONO
AND THE
MECHA-
NISM OF
MIND
SHORT BIOGRAPHY, BOOK REVIEWS,
QUOTES, AND COMMENTS
(GREAT MINDS SERIES, VOL, 5)
by Peter Fritz Walter
Published by Sirius-C Media Galaxy LLC

113 Barksdale Professional Center, Newark, Delaware, USA

©2015 Peter Fritz Walter. Some rights reserved.

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publisher@sirius-c-publishing.com
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Author Contact Information
pfw@peterfritzwalter.com

About Dr. Peter Fritz Walter
http://peterfritzwalter.com
About the Author

Parallel to an international law career in Germany, Switzerland
and the United States, Dr. Peter Fritz Walter (Pierre) focused upon
fine art, cookery, astrology, musical performance, social sciences
and humanities.

He started writing essays as an adolescent and received a high
school award for creative writing and editorial work for the
school magazine.

After finalizing his law diplomas, he graduated with an LL.M. in
European Integration at Saarland University, Germany, and with
a Doctor of Law title from University of Geneva, Switzerland, in
1987.

He then took courses in psychology at the University of Gene-
va   and interviewed a number of psychotherapists in Lausanne
and Geneva, Switzerland. His interest was intensified through a
hypnotherapy with an Ericksonian American hypnotherapist in
Lausanne. This led him to the recovery and healing of his inner
child.

In 1986, he met the late French psychotherapist and child psycho-
analyst Françoise Dolto (1908-1988) in Paris and interviewed her.
A long correspondence followed up to their encounter which was
considered by the curators of the Dolto Trust interesting enough
to be published in a book alongside all of Dolto’s other letter ex-
changes by Gallimard Publishers in Paris, in 2005.

After a second career as a corporate trainer and personal coach,
Pierre retired as a full-time writer, philosopher and consultant.

His nonfiction books emphasize a systemic, holistic, cross-cultural
and interdisciplinary perspective, while his fiction works and
short stories focus upon education, philosophy, perennial wis-
dom, and the poetic formulation of an integrative worldview.

Pierre is a German-French bilingual native speaker and writes
English as his 4th language after German, Latin and French. He
also reads source literature for his research works in Spanish,
Italian, Portuguese, and Dutch. In addition, Pierre has notions of
Thai, Khmer, Chinese and Japanese.

All of Pierre’s books are hand-crafted and self-published, de-
signed by the author. Pierre publishes via his Delaware company,
Sirius-C Media Galaxy LLC, and under the imprints of IPUBLICA
and SCM (Sirius-C Media).
One cannot look in the right direction by looking more ef-
ficiently in the wrong direction.
—EDWARD DE BONO

The author’s profits from this book are being donated to charity.
Contents
Introduction! 9
About Great Minds Series

Chapter One! 13
Short Biography

Chapter Two! 21
Major Training Concepts

Lateral Thinking! 21
The Need for Creative Thinking! 23
Alternatives! 24
Focus! 24
Challenge! 24
Random Entry! 24
Provocation and Movement! 25
Harvesting! 25
The Treatment of Ideas! 25

Six Thinking Hats! 26
Simplicity! 28
Facilitation! 29

Chapter Three! 31
Book Reviews

Review! 32
Quotes! 34
The Mechanism of Mind! 36
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

Review! 36
Quotes! 39
Serious Creativity! 50
Review! 50
Quotes! 53
Sur/Petition! 60
Tactics! 69

Bibliography! 77
Contextual Bibliography

Personal Notes! 81

8
Introduction
About Great Minds Series

We are currently transiting as a human race a time of
great challenge and adventure that opens to us new path-
ways for rediscovering and integrating the perennial holis-
tic wisdom of ancient civilizations into our modern science
paradigm. These civilizations were thriving before patriar-
chy was putting nature upside-down.

Currently, with the advent of the networked global so-
ciety, and systems theory as its scientific paradigm, we are
looking into a different world, with a rise of ‘horizontal’
and ‘sustainable’ structures both in our business culture,
and in science, and last not least on the important areas of
psychology, medicine, and spirituality.
—A paradigm, from Greek ‘paradeigma,’ is a pattern of things, a
configuration of ideas, a set of dominant beliefs, a certain way of look-
ing at the world, a set of assumptions, a frame of reference or lens, and
even an entire worldview.
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

While most of this new and yet old path has yet to be
trotted, we cannot any longer overlook the changes that
happen all around us virtually every day.

Invariably, as students, scientists, doctors, consultants,
lawyers, business executives or government officials, we
face problems today that are so complex, entangled and
novel that they cannot possibly be solved on the basis of
our old paradigm, and our old way of thinking. As Albert
Einstein said, we cannot solve a problem on the same level
of thought that created it in the first place— hence the need
for changing our view of looking at things, the world, and
our personal and collective predicaments.
What still about half a decade ago seemed unlikely is
happening now all around us: we are rediscovering more
and more fragments of an integrative and holistic wisdom
that represents the cultural and scientific treasure of many
ancient tribes and kingdoms that were based upon a per-
ennial tradition which held that all in our universe is inter-
connected and interrelated, and that humans are set in the
world to live in unison with the infinite wisdom inherent
in creation as a major task for driving evolution forward!
It happens in science, since the advent of relativity the-
ory, quantum physics and string theory, it happens in neu-
roscience and systems theory, it happens in molecular bi-
ology, and in ecology, and as a result, and because science
is a major motor in society, it happens now with increasing
speed in the industrial and the business world, and in the

10
ABOUT GREAT MINDS SERIES

way people earn their lives and manifest their innate tal-
ents through their professional engagement.
And it happens also, and what this book is set to em-
phasize, in psychology and psychoanalysis, for Françoise
Dolto, while having been a member of the Freudian psy-
choanalytic school, has created an approach to healing
psychotic children that was really unknown to the founder
of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud.

More and more people begin to realize that we cannot
honestly continue to destroy our globe by disregarding the
natural law of self-regulation, both outwardly, by polluting
air and water, and inside, by tolerating our emotions to be
in a state of repression and turmoil.

Self-regulation is built into the life function and it can
be found as a consistent pattern in the lifestyle of natives
peoples around the world. It is similar with our immense
intuitive and imaginal faculties that were downplayed in
centuries of darkness and fragmentation, and that now
emerge anew as major key stones in a worldview that puts
the whole human at the frontline, a human who uses their
whole brain, and who knows to balance their emotions
and natural passions so as to arrive at a state of inner peace
and synergetic relationships with others that bring mutual
benefit instead of one-sided egotistic satisfaction.
For lasting changes to happen, however, to paraphrase
J. Krishnamurti, we need to change the thinker, we need to
undergo a transformation that puts our higher self up as
the caretaker of our lives, not our conditioned ego.

11
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

Hence the need to really look over the fence and get
beyond social, cultural and racial conditioning for adopt-
ing an integrative and holistic worldview that is focused
on more than problem-solving.
What this book tries to convey is that taking the exam-
ple of one of the greatest child psychoanalysts of our time,
we may see that it’s not too late, be it for our planet and for
us humans, our careers, our science, our collective spiritual
advancement, and our scientific understanding of nature,
and that we can thrive in a world that is surely more dif-
ferent in ten years from now that it was one hundred years
in the past compared to now.
We are free to continue to feel like victims in this new
reality, and wait for being taken care of by the state, or we
may accept the state, and society, as human creations that
will never be perfect, and venture into creating our lives
and careers in accordance with our true mission, and based
upon our real gifts and talents.

Let me say a last word about this series of books about
great personalities of our time, which I came to call ‘Great
Minds’ Collection. The books within this collection do not
just feature books but authors, you may call them author
reviews instead of book reviews, and they are more exten-
sive also in highlighting the personal mission and autobio-
graphical details which are to note for each author, includ-
ing extensive quotes from their books.

12
Chapter One
Short Biography

Edward de Bono has been a think tank, corporate con-
sultant, writer and philosopher of world renown for dec-
ades. His creative impact upon business and conceptual
planning can’t be underestimated. He has been a corporate
consultant for DuPont, Exxon, Shell, Ford, IBM, British
Airways, Ciba-Geigy, Citibank—to name a few. Edward de
Bono has contributed in a unique, outstanding manner to
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

the progress of education, creative thinking and human
resource development and, more generally, the intellectual
evolution of humanity. Unlike many other corporate train-
ing experts, Dr. de Bono went way beyond the job of a cor-
porate trainer, and is to be considered a true business phi-
losopher and conceptualist. His research on perception and
the memory matrix of the human brain has had a decisive
impact upon accelerated learning, whole-brain learning,
and other new approaches for learning languages, such as
Suggestopedia or Superlearning.®
I found de Bono’s books at the onset of my career as a
corporate consultant, in 1998.
At that time, as work notes for myself, I made a quotes
collection, and then wrote these book reviews about a dec-
ade later, after choosing the career of a full-time writer.
However, since then, my interest in Edward de Bono
has only increased, despite the fact that I am now working
on quite different projects. Dr. de Bono is one of not more
than a handful of think tanks who show you how to bring
your genius to the world, and earn fame and recognition
for your creative contributions to the intellectual brilliance
of humanity.
Edward de Bono was born in Malta in 1933, studied
medicine and became a Rhodes Scholar to Christ Church
in Oxford where he gained degrees in psychology and
physiology, and a D.phil in medicine. On top of all that, he
holds a Ph.D. from Cambridge and an MD from the Uni-

14
SHORT BIOGRAPHY

versity of Malta. He has held appointments at the universi-
ties of Oxford, London, Cambridge and Harvard.
Dr. de Bono is one of few people in history who can be
said to have had a major impact on the way we think. In
many ways he could be said to be the best known thinker
internationally.

He has written numerous books with translations into
34 languages (all the major languages plus Hebrew, Arabic,
Bahasa, Urdu, Slovene, Turkish etc), and has been invited
to lecture in 52 countries around the world.
In the University of Buenos Aires five faculties use his
books as required reading. In Venezuela, by law, all school
children must spend an hour a week on his programs. In
Singapore more than one hundred secondary schools use
his work. In Malaysia the senior science schools have been
using his work for ten years. In the U.S.A., Canada, Aus-
tralia, New Zealand, the Republic of Ireland and the UK
there are thousands of schools using de Bono's programs
for the teaching of thinking. At the International Thinking
Meeting in Boston (1992) he was given an award as a key
pioneer in the direct teaching of thinking in schools.

15
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

Edward de Bono has worked with many of the major
corporations in the world such as IBM, DuPont, Pruden-
tial, AT&T, British Airways, British Coal, NTT (Japan), Er-
icsson (Sweden), Total (France), etc.
The largest corporation in Europe, Siemens (370,000
employees) is teaching his work across the whole corpora-
tion, following Dr. de Bono’s talk to the senior manage-
ment team. When Microsoft held their first ever marketing
meeting, they invited Edward de Bono to give the keynote
address in Seattle to the five hundred top managers. Ed-
ward de Bono’s special contribution has been to tackle the
mystical subject of creativity and, for the first time in his-
tory, to put the subject on a solid basis. He has shown that
creativity is a necessary behavior in a self-organizing living
systems. His key book, ‘The Mechanism of Mind’ was pub-
lished in 1969. In it he showed how the nerve networks in
the brain form asymmetric patterns as the basis of percep-
tion. The leading physicist in the world, Professor Murray
Gell Mann, said of this book that it was ten years ahead of
mathematicians dealing with chaos theory, and nonlinear
and self-organizing systems.
From this basis, Edward de Bono developed the con-
cept and tools of lateral thinking. What is so special is that
instead of his work remaining hidden in academic texts he
has made it practical and available to everyone, from five
years olds to adults. The term ‘lateral thinking’ was intro-
duced by Edward de Bono and is now so much part of the

16
SHORT BIOGRAPHY

language that it is used equally in a physics lecture and in
a television comedy.

Traditional thinking is to do with analysis, judgment
and argument. In a stable world this was sufficient because
it was enough to identify standard situations and apply stan-
dard solutions. This is no longer so in our rapidly chang-
ing world where the standard solutions may not work.
There is a huge need worldwide for thinking that is crea-
tive and constructive and can design the way forward. Many

17
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

of the major problems in the world cannot be solved by
identifying and removing the cause. There is a need to de-
sign a way forward even if the cause remains in place.

Edward de Bono has provided the methods and tools
for this new thinking. He is the undisputed world leader in
what may be the most important field of all in the future:
constructive and creative thinking.
In 1995 the Malta Government awarded Edward de
Bono the ‘Order of Merit.’ This is the highest award avail-
able and is limited to only twenty living persons. For many
thousands, indeed millions, of people world-wide, Edward
de Bono’s name has become a symbol of creativity and
new thinking.

Edward de Bono founded the International Creative Fo-
rum which has had as members many of the leading cor-
porations in the world: IBM, Du Pont, Prudential, Nestle,
British Airways, Alcoa, CSR etc. The International Creativity
Office was setup by de Bono in New York to work with the
United Nations and member countries to produce new
ideas on international issues.
Dr. de Bono has made two TV series: de Bono’s Course
in Thinking (BBC) and The Greatest Thinkers (WDR, Ger-
many).

Perhaps what is so unique about Edward de Bono is
that his work spans from teaching 7 years olds in primary
schools to working with senior executives in the world’s
largest corporations. His work also spans many cultures:
Europe, North and South America, Russia, The Middle
18
SHORT BIOGRAPHY

East, Africa, SE Asia, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand
etc.
In September 1996, the De Bono Institute was launched
in Melbourne as a world center for new thinking. The An-
drews Foundation has donated $8.5 million to make this
possible.
Edward de Bono is the consummate peripatetic educa-
tor! Nearly every week he is in a different part of the world
talking to government leaders, educators and heads of in-
dustry and business. Some of his key engagements listed
below demonstrate the broad appeal of Dr. de Bono’s mes-
sage: thinking can and should be taught if we are to meet
the needs of today’s fast-paced and changing world.

July 1994 he was awarded the Pioneer Prize in the field
of thinking at the International Conference on Thinking at
M.I.T. in Boston. A recent survey by the European Creativ-
ity Association of its members showed that 40% consider
Dr. de Bono as the greatest influence in the field of creativ-
ity. This was far ahead of any other nominee.

—In DuPont, we have many good examples of how out technical
people have applied Dr. de Bono’s lateral thinking techniques to suc-
cessfully solve difficult problems.

Source: David Tanner Ph.D., Technical Director, DuPont.

—The complexity and pace of contemporary life being what they
are, de Bono's course should be an essential curriculum for the human
race.

Source: Alex Kroll, Chairman & President, Yong & Rubican.

19
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

It’s difficult for anyone to put a precise value on Edward de Bono’s
work and expertise. His views on thinking and creating are persuasive
and cumulative.

Jeremy Bullmore, Chairman, J. Walter Thompson Company

—Dr. de Bono’s course builds up your thinking skills quickly and
enjoyably and you then find yourself using the skills instinctively in
approaching all situations. Leaders in every field—from skilled labor to
nuclear physics, from manufacturing to selling—have this in common :
the ability to think clearly. I’ve seen in my own organization how de
Bono’s concepts have triggered ideas, enthusiasm and positivism—at
every level of personnel.

Source: Paul MacCready, Founder/President Aero Vironment Inc.,
known as the ‘Father of Human Powered Flight.’

—I definitely know of Dr. de Bono and am an admirer of his work.
We live in an information economy, where we have to live by what
comes out of our minds.

Source: John Sculley, Chairman, President and CEO, Apple Com-
puter Inc.

—It is a function of clarity of de Bono’s approach that his thinking
course works well with school children or executives.

Source: John Naisbitt, Author of ‘Megatrends 2000.’

—We all hang on to assumptions of the past to make conclusions
about the future … de Bono teaches us to challenge such assumptions
and develop new creative solutions to problems.

Source: Philip L Smith, President, General Foods Corporation

—Lateral Thinking … really transformed my approach to business
problems.

Source: A. Weinberg, Management Consultant, NYC

20
Chapter Two
Major Training Concepts

Lateral Thinking
Lateral Thinking is a way of thinking that seeks a solu-
tion to an intractable problem through unorthodox meth-
ods or elements that would normally be ignored by logical
thinking.
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

Edward de Bono divides thinking into two processes.
He calls one ‘vertical thinking’ that is, using of logic, the
traditional-historical analytical method. The other, how-
ever, he calls ‘lateral thinking,’ which involves disrupting
an apparent sequence and arriving at the solution from
another angle. From a practice point of view, many leader
today believe that when you are faced with fast-changing
trends, fierce competition, and the need to work miracles
despite tight budgets, you need ‘lateral thinking’ in order
to get at new, creative solutions and forge new strategies.
Developing breakthrough ideas does not have to be the
result of luck or a shotgun effort. De Bono’s proven meth-
ods provide a deliberate, systematic process that will result
in innovative thinking. Creative thinking is not a talent, it
is a skill that can be learnt. It empowers people by adding
strength to their natural abilities which improves team-
work, productivity and as a result, more profit. Today, bet-
ter quality and better service are essential, but they are not
enough. Creativity and innovation are the only engines
that will drive lasting, global success.
Our minds are trained to find typical and predictable
solutions to problems. Lateral thinking will also helps with
strategic planning and thinking outside the box of every-
day issues.

22
MAJOR TRAINING CONCEPTS

The Need for Creative Thinking
Here are some particular thinking strategies or meth-
ods that have been derived from Edward de Bono’s main
teaching. They are to be found on his website, under the
‘Training’ header.

23
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

Alternatives

For gaining new ground and breed new ideas, we need
to brainstorm for alternative solutions. Sometimes we do
not look beyond the obvious alternatives. Sometimes we
do not look for alternatives at all. The method shows how
to extract the concept behind a group of alternatives and
then use it to generate further alternatives.

Focus

When and how to change the focus of our thinking?
The discipline of defining our focus and sticking to it. The
attitude of focusing on matters that are not problem areas.

Challenge

Breaking free from the limits of the accepted ways of
operating is crucial in creative thinking. Finding new solu-
tions is always a challenge, for the the present way of do-
ing things is not necessarily the best. Challenge thus is not
an attack or criticism. It is rather the willingness to explore
the reasons why we do things the way we do and whether
there are any alternatives.

Random Entry

Random entry is used in a game-like setting, for brain-
storming purposes. It helps gaining new insights through
using unconnected input to open up new lines of thinking.

24
MAJOR TRAINING CONCEPTS

Provocation and Movement

Generating provocative statements and then using
them to build new ideas is the focus of this method. It is set
to explore the nature of perception and how it limits our
creativity.
The various techniques are designed to challenge these
limitations. Movement is a new mental operation that we
can use as an alternative to judgment. It allows us to de-
velop a provocative idea into one that is workable and re-
alistic.

Harvesting

At the end of a creative thinking session one takes note
of specific ideas that seem practical and have value. We
need to also make a deliberate harvesting effort to collect
ideas and concepts that are less well developed, for they
can be improved later on and may contain valuable new
insights.

The Treatment of Ideas

How to develop ideas and shape them to fit an organi-
zation or situation? The aim is for you to leave the work-
shop with skills you have practiced and can apply imme-
diately on return to your home or workplace.

25
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

Six Thinking Hats

People are seeking quality everywhere except in the
most important area—the quality of thinking. We need bet-
ter thinking methods in order to make full use of our avail-
able intelligence and experience.
As organizations reduce the number of people em-
ployed, they need to get the maximum benefit from those
remaining, including the maximum output from their
thinking.

26
MAJOR TRAINING CONCEPTS

Current thinking is dominated by adversarial thinking,
which is a form of thinking based on the idea that there is
always conflict in the world. Consequently, the mode of
discussion revolves around argument, the purpose being to
defeat your opponent and by doing so discover the truth.
Adversarial thinking serves a purpose. However, it is not
the only way of thinking and in some circumstances it has
limitations. Six Thinking Hats offers a practical alternative.
It encourages not adversarial but cooperative thinking, ex-
ploration and innovation.
It is often assumed that intelligence goes hand in hand
with thinking. In fact, very intelligent people are in danger
of becoming poor thinkers. This is because they fall into
the intelligence trap. That is, they use their intelligence to
entrench themselves in support of one point of view. Even
though you have a fantastic sports car you may be a poor
driver. Similarly those with excellent minds may use them
inadequately. Thinking and driving are skills that can be
taught and improved upon.
The Six Thinking Hats Workshop is a powerful one day
‘hands-on’ training to help business executives break out
of their ‘thinking ruts’ using techniques found in Dr. Ed-
ward de Bono’s landmark book ‘Six Thinking Hats.’ I have
conducted Six Hats training for for a major hotel chain in
Singapore, back in 1998, and this opened my eyes to the
gruesome lack of creativity at the department head level in
that 5-star hotel. Working for other clients, I subsequently
found out that my experience was not an exception, and I

27
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

became aware of all the emotional blockages people get
stuck with because of our completely inadequate school
systems.

The Six Thinking Hats is an extremely simple and pow-
erful training method. This powerful simplicity, together
with the practical nature of the method, has led to its adop-
tion by major corporations, among them IBM, NTT, Bell
Canada, Federal Express, Eli Lilly, BA, BAA and Rockwell
International.

Simplicity
Business strategies should be simple enough so that the
return on investment is not impaired by unnecessary and
widely ineffective bureaucracy. This seems to be obvious
but it is neglected even in major companies today. To in-
crease simplicity means to remove age-old roadblocks and
barriers that are the result of following traditional methods
and procedures without questioning their effectiveness,
thus the result of keeping things simple is more employee
and customer satisfaction.

Free employees get to think through new ideas more
quickly; this will lead the company to bring about market
innovations more timely and efficiently.
There are few things more annoying and frustrating in
work than dealing with a piece of complex machinery or a
cumbersome process which will not do what you need to
be done. Overly complex work processes on a daily basis

28
MAJOR TRAINING CONCEPTS

lead to stress, anxiety, frustration—even rage—followed by
apathy and depression. But you do not have to be a victim.
Now you can get the tools and support to move your
company in exactly this direction. ‘Simplicity’ is a new
course which is invaluable to companies looking to de-
complexify their business processes and thus, their lives.
If your organization is implementing practical ways to
streamline products and processes, you can become more
effective, efficient and user-friendly.
‘Simplicity’ teaches how to put an end to habits that
are no longer necessary, to stop duplication of tasks, and to
challenge every aspect of business so that you can perform
at a higher level in all areas.

In ‘Simplicity,’ an instructor-led training event plus on-
going follow-up plan, you will learn how to institute crea-
tive techniques like shredding, reframing tasks, bulk-and-
exceptions, and historical review to shift group thinking to
a ‘challenge’ mode where moving from complex to simple
is the name of the game.

Facilitation
What if you could walk into any meeting, with any
group of people and help them be more effective? Can you
imagine how sought after you would be? And how pro-
ductive your meetings would become?

This new course shows how to combine tools from all
three core tools to become an expert facilitator for any kind

29
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

of meeting. Get employees engaged and help them accom-
plish much more—before, during, and after attending the
new kinds of meetings you will plan and facilitate for
them.
This instructor-led workshop teaches practical tools; it
requires multiple, coached facilitation practices and in-
cludes many useful resources to support you in applying
your new techniques:

‣ Executive portfolio with room for all your facilitator
visuals;

‣ Complete facilitator handbook (we call it the facilita-
tor’s Bible!);

‣ Exercise book to collect all the tips you get and think-
ing you do during the workshop;

‣ Facilitation cards to ‘deal’ yourself a visual map of the
agenda you’re planning;

‣ Table mats that engage your meeting participants in
tracking group progress;

‣ Slide rules so participants can easily call to mind the
steps in the de Bono thinking methods;

‣ Capture cards for writing, sorting, and assessing ideas
generated;

‣ Energy dots to indicate top priority ideas and to
measure buy-in on decisions made;

‣ A catalogue of colorful, practical facilitation supplies,
both de Bono specific and generic.

30
Chapter Three
Book Reviews

The Use of Lateral Thinking (1967)

The Mechanism of Mind (1969)

Tactics (1991)

Serious Creativity (1992)

Sur/Petition (1992)
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

The Use of Lateral Thinking
New York: Penguin, 1967, reedited 1990

The Use of Lateral Thinking is one of de Bono’s first publications, a book
written in the 1960s; but it is one of his most important books.

Review
It seems that few have understood the book when it
appeared more than forty years ago. In the first chapter of
the booklet, the author introduces the idea of lateral think-
ing and defines it as a concept.

Orthodox education usually does nothing to encourage lat-
eral thinking habits and positively inhibits them with the
need to conform one’s way through the successive examina-
tion hoops. /15

The second and third chapters prepare the ground for
the main part of the study which unfolds as a meticulous
examination of perception habits. In these chapters, the
32
BOOK REVIEWS

author makes interesting remarks about how ideas are
born. Where are ideas coming from? How to generate new
ideas? Truly, these questions are important not only for art-
ists, writers or designers, but also for business leaders. We
can observe in recent years that it is surprisingly not al-
ways large corporations but more often than not mid-sized
or small companies that are leading the competition by
their intelligent and novel approach, focused customer
care and an effective cycle of innovation. For de Bono, this
was not new thirty years ago.

He wrote that it is ‘not possible to look in a differ-
ent direction by looking harder in the same direction.’
He thought that for innovation, the tough, hard-
working approach is dysfunctional, which is why he
advocated flexible intelligence as the prime mover for
ultimate success.
One of the major tasks of lateral thinking is to identify
and overcome dominant ideas because a dominant idea can
be a real obstacle in the creative thinking process. In every
business, dominant ideas are very subtly and often imper-
ceptibly built into the system through the formulation of
strategies, marketing slogans, habits and traditions, the
archaic ‘we have always done it that way and it has
worked for us.’ In the fifth chapter, the author summarizes
his thorough examination of thinking habits and writes:

33
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

With most situations, what starts as a temporary and provi-
sional manner of looking at them soon turns into the only
possible way, especially if encouraged by success./68

Quotes
‣ Lateral thinking is not a new, magic formula
but simply a different and more creative way
of using the mind. /6

‣ Creative thinking is a special part of lateral
thinking which covers a wider field. /14

‣ Orthodox education usually does nothing to
encourage lateral thinking habits and posi-
tively inhibits them with the need to conform
one’s way through the successive examina-
tion hoops. (…) Lateral thinking is a matter
of awareness and practice - not revelation.
/15

‣ The full development of an idea may well
take years of hard work but the idea itself
may arrive in a flash of insight. /16-17

‣ It is frightening (or exiting) to contemplate
how many new ideas are lying dormant in
already collected information that is now put
together in one way and could be rearranged
in a better way. (…) It is said that the great
Napoleon found it just as difficult to get rid
of his wife’s dog as he did to get rid of the
powerful armies sent against him. /18

34
BOOK REVIEWS

‣ Once a new idea springs into existence it
cannot be unthought. /20

‣ It is not possible to look in a different direc-
tion by looking harder in the same direction.
/21

‣ To realize that a dominant idea can be an ob-
stacle instead of a convenience is the first
principle of lateral thinking. /29

‣ With most situations, what starts as a tempo-
rary and provisional manner of looking at
them turns into the only possible way, espe-
cially if encouraged by success. /69

‣ The mind divides the continuity of the world
around us into discrete units. (…) When the
same division has been made over and over
again, the units come to acquire an identity of
their own. /71

‣ The fluidity of a situation where nothing is
rigid and everything is doubled all the time
makes vertical thinkers extremely uncom-
fortable. Yet it is from this limitless potential
of chaos that new ideas are formed by lateral
thinking. /79

35
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

The Mechanism of Mind
New York: Penguin, 1969, reedited 1990

The second of the five books I am reviewing is a booklet that develops
and elaborates Edward de Bono’s approach to creative thinking, as it
was first exposed in The Use of Lateral Thinking.

Review
The book is uncanny in that the author examines with
scientific exactitude how our brain handles perception and
how it processes information.
Using many examples for demonstrating his theory,
Edward de Bono concludes that the specific memory sur-
face that the brain uses for information processing is in it-
self a highly unreliable system. In Part II, 29: Overcoming
the Limitations, de Bono writes:

The errors, faults and limitations of information-processing
on the special memory-surface are inescapable because they

36
BOOK REVIEWS

follow directly from the nature of the organization of the
surface. /218

In the next four chapters of the study, Edward de Bono
analyzes the process of thinking. He divides thinking into
four categories, natural thinking, logical thinking, mathemati-
cal thinking and lateral thinking. He then discusses each of
these modes of thinking.
Natural thinking that de Bono also calls simple or primi-
tive thinking is characterized by being fluent yet its very
fluency is the source of its errors.
This mode of thinking, de Bono says, is the natural way
the memory surface behaves and its thought-flow is ‘im-
mediate, direct and basically adequate.’
Logical thinking is characterized by the management of
no, most logical processes being forms of binary equations
of identity and non-identity. Logical thinking is seen by de
Bono as a tremendous improvement over natural thinking,
in spite of the limitations that he pointed out in detail.
Mathematical thinking is judged by de Bono as useful,
however with the limitation that it is more adequate to de-
scribe things than people.
Lateral thinking as a genuine mode of thinking has been
developed by Edward de Bono himself.

The purpose of lateral thinking is to counteract both the er-
rors and the limitations of the special memory-surface./236

37
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

De Bono states that lateral thinking is concerned with
making the best possible use of the information that is al-
ready available in the memory surface.

He then gives examples to illustrate in which ways lat-
eral thinking is essentially different from vertical thinking.
To say it with a slogan, lateral thinking is a way of thinking
that lets a door open for the unexpected to occur; in other
words, with lateral thinking you may not know what you
are looking for until after you have found it.
There are several broad characteristics that show the
obvious usefulness of lateral thinking.
Edward de Bono discusses them one after the other in
his book:

‣ Seeking alternatives

‣ Thinking non-sequentially

‣ Undoing selection processes

‣ Shifting attention

‣ Giving random input

I do not need to further comment this brilliant study
which bears the stroke of genius. I guess that it was this
book that laid the foundation for de Bono’s overwhelming
success as a think tank and business coach later on.
Strangely enough, then, this booklet is the least known
and perhaps the least popular among all his books. But for

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BOOK REVIEWS

one who is seriously interested in the foundations of lat-
eral and of creative thinking, it is an absolute must-read.

Quotes
‣ This book is to do with the way the brain be-
comes mind. It may be that the brain is not
too difficult to understand, but too easy. Mat-
ters are often made more and more complex
by the ability of man to play elaborate games
that feed on themselves to create bewildering
structures of immense intricacy, which ob-
scure rather than reveal. The only thing these
structures do reveal is that man has the abil-
ity and the compulsion to play such concep-
tual games. /7

‣ Of its own accord the brain does not seek to
understand and explain, but to create expla-
nations—and that is a very different thing.
The explanations may be highly acceptable
without having much relevance to what is
being explained. Can one escape from the cir-
cular self-satisfaction of elaborate philosophi-
cal description? In this book the brain is de-
scribed as the mechanical behavior of me-
chanical units. It is the organization of these
units that provides the mechanism of mind.
/7

‣ Systems do not have to be complicated or un-
intelligible, or even dressed in jargon. A sys-

39
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

tem is just an arrangement of circumstances
that makes things happen in a certain way.
The circumstances may be metal grids, elec-
tronic components, warm bodies, rules and
regulations or anything else. In each case
what actually happens is determined by the
nature of the system. One can take the func-
tion of the system for granted and become
interested in how it is carried out. /17

‣ If you want to get your shoes cleaned in an
English hotel you simply leave them over-
night in the corridor outside your room.
Many an unhappy Englishman has learned
that in America shoes treated in this way dis-
appear never to be seen again. Left outside
the door, the shoes are regarded as a rather
eccentric form of tipping or garbage disposal.
The first useful thing that can come out of
knowledge of a system is the avoiding of
those errors that arise through thinking the
system to be something that it is not. /18

‣ The second useful thing is awareness of the
limitations of the system. No matter how
good they may be at performing their best
functions, most systems are rather poor when
it comes to performing the opposite func-
tions. One would no more go racing in a
shopping car than shopping in a racing car.
When one can, one chooses the system to fit
the purpose. More often there is no choice,

40
BOOK REVIEWS

and this means that a single system will per-
form certain functions well but others not so
well. For instance the brain system is well
suited to developing ideas but not so good at
generating them. Knowing about the limita-
tions of a system does not by itself alter them.
But by being aware of the nature of the sys-
tem one can make deliberate adjustments.
/18

‣ In the early days of the instant breath-test for
drinking drivers one drunken driver drove
his car into a lamp-post and wrecked it. As he
sat waiting in the wreckage for the police to
come and test and charge him, he remem-
bered the nature of the system. So he pulled
out a hip-flask and started to drink some
more. When the police came he explained to
them that the shock of the accident had
caused him to have a drink. Since his car was
no longer drivable he knew that he could not
be held to have the necessary intent to drive,
as required by the system. What his blood
alcohol level had been at the time of the acci-
dent was, of course, no longer determinable.
/18-19

‣ Birds do not have propellers any more than
human beings move around on wheels.
Wings and propellers are different but fulfill
the same flight function; legs and wheels are

41
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

different but fulfill the same movement func-
tion. /21

‣ Laughter is a fundamental characteristic of
the brain system but not of the computer sys-
tem. And with laughter goes creativity. It will
be a sinister day when computers start to
laugh, because that will man they are capable
of a lot of other things as well. /22

‣ It is perfectly possible that a computer could
be deliberately programmed to imitate the
functions of the brain system, probably even
to the extent of laughter and creativity. But
this would not mean that the two systems
were functioning in a similar manner except
on the final level, that is to say the outcome
level. It is quite easy to tell someone to draw
a square, but much more cumbersome to give
him the mathematical definition of a square,
though the outcome would be the same. A
similarity of outcomes does not imply a simi-
larity of process. /22

‣ The elaboration of a few basic principles
gives rise to the richest musical symphony.
The elaboration of a few basic principles in
physics explains much of the universe. The
simple basic process of evolution by random
mutation and survival of the fittest ultimately
leads to a complicated variety of species. /25

42
BOOK REVIEWS

‣ When one starts from the simple basic units it
is easy to see how they can be built up into
complicated structures capable of compli-
cated functions. But when one starts from the
complicated structures or functions then it is
not so easy to see the basic processes. In this
book the intention is not to break down the
complicated behavior of the brain system
into simple basic processes, but to show that
simple basic processes can be put together to
give a system that is capable of as compli-
cated behavior as the brain system. /25

‣ This book has been concerned with building
up, principle by principle, a type of
information-processing system. This system
has been capable of such things as the direc-
tion of attention and thinking. It has also
been shown that there are certain inherent
errors in the information-processing behavior
of this type of system, just as there are certain
tremendous advantages. Th advantages by
far outweigh the disadvantages, even though
more attention has been paid to the latter.
The system has been called a special
memory-surface, and it is activity on this sur-
face that has been described. /266

‣ There is evidence in the brain for a two-stage
memory system consisting of a short-term
memory and a long-term memory. The short-
term memory could possibly take the form of

43
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

an increased ease of activation of a synapse
after the tiring factor had worn off. It could
also take the form of circuits of nervous activ-
ity which circled round and round in endless
loops for some time after a pattern of syn-
apses had been activated. There is a special
method of depolarizing the brain which stops
nervous activity in an area. If this method is
applied to the surface of an animal brain soon
after some event it can prevent that event be-
ing recorded in memory. If it is applied much
later then the memory is not interfered with.
This suggests that the short-term emory has
to do with nerve activity but the long-term
one does not. /268

‣ Of what use is consideration of the mechani-
cal structure of mind? The brain is an ines-
capably physical system with a mechanical
way of working. From a consideration of the
possible working of the brain may come use-
ful conclusions; from a dogmatic mysticism
about its function will come nothing. /273

‣ The most important thing that arises from a
consideration of the information handling in
the type of system proposed is the nature of
the errors and limitations which are inherent
in the system. The very great efficiency of the
system taken as a whole carries with it cer-
tain inherent faults. /275

44
BOOK REVIEWS

‣ Basically the system is very poor in updating
itself. There is no efficient mechanism for do-
ing this. In fact the accretion method of treat-
ing information inevitably leads to the ar-
rangement of the information being slightly
out of date. This is due to the importance of
time of arrival of information and the persis-
tence of established patterns. The arrange-
ment of information on the memory-surface
must always be less than the best possible
arrangement. /275

‣ The more specific faults of the system include
its divisive tendencies, which create artificial
entities and artificial separations between
them. This is the phenomenon that has been
described as polarization. The memory-
surface efficiently creates patterns out of the
confused information offered it by the envi-
ronment. /275

‣ But then these patterns take over, and instead
of being a self-organization of available in-
formation they actually direct what informa-
tion can be accepted. Once the patterns take
over as cliché patterns or myths, then the
prospects of changing such patterns are even
more remote. Where the patterns are correct
this is obviously an advantage, but where the
patterns are imperfect it is another matter.
/276

45
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

‣ Leonardo da Vinci’s diaries were lost for cen-
turies for the simple reason that they were
not lost at all. It seems that they had been
mis-filed in some library. Had they been truly
lost then there might have been a better
chance of finding them. So it is with informa-
tion that is incorrectly filed on the memory-
surface by being fixed in a cliché pattern.
/276

‣ Once one is aware of the faults of the
information-processing system one comes to
realize that the main information sin is arro-
gance. Arrogance, dogmatism or a closed
mind of any sort are so insecurely based on
the fallible information-processing system
that they would be pathetic if they were not
sometimes dangerous. /276

‣ For the same reasons the need to be always
right, the insistence on this in education, and
the basing of self-esteem on this need, cannot
be justified unless it is tempered with the
awareness that for some part of the time one is
inevitably going to be wrong. It is these inherent
faults of the information-processing system
that make lateral thinking essential. Insight is
so haphazard a mechanism that it cannot be
expected to reduce the gap between the cur-
rent arrangement of information and the best
possible arrangement with any reliability.
The purpose of lateral thinking is to bring

46
BOOK REVIEWS

about this insight type of re-structuring of
information. /276

‣ The sequential process of vertical thinking as
developed in logical and mathematical think-
ing are incredibly effective when one things
how clumsy natural thinking is. Yet these se-
quential processes are not effective in bring-
ing about the insight type of re-structuring of
information. One cannot change a sequential
pattern by developing it further. One needs
some method of disrupting the sequence to
allow another one to form. Lateral thinking is
not an alternative to vertical thinking but an
essential complement, which is made neces-
sary by the nature of the information-
processing system. Later thinking increases
the effectiveness of vertical thinking by pro-
viding direction. One cannot look in the right
direction by looking more efficiently in the
wrong direction. /276-277

‣ There are, however, situations in which the
mere disruptive effect of material thinking is
sufficient. Once certain myths and patterns
have been disrupted then the formation of
better patterns may follow on its own. Lateral
thinking has nothing to do with chaos for the
sake of chaos. Disruption of a pattern in lat-
eral thinking is only in order to let a better
pattern form. /277

47
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

‣ Far from reducing the importance of emo-
tions, the nature of the special memory-
surface elevates them into an essential posi-
tion. The special memory-surface is a passive
system, and on it information organizes itself
into patterns. (…) These considerations are
fairly obvious. What is less obvious is that
even abstract intellectual processes such as
logical thinking would be impossible without
emotion. /278

‣ If information is the door that gives access to
the world, then emotion is not just the paint
on the door but the handle with which the
door is opened. Emotion is essential to
information-processing, not something apart.
The division between intellect and emotion is
another of the harmful polarizations that
arise from the divisive tendencies of the sys-
tem. Too often, emotion is thought of in terms
of the caricatures and grotesqueries that are
so often put forward as the stuff of emotion
with the admirable purpose of attracting at-
tention. /

‣ The division between art and science is an-
other of these polarizations. The two are but
aspects of the same thing. Art is science with
instant information. Science is art with pro-
gressive information. In both cases the aes-
thetics and the emotions are the same. /279

48
BOOK REVIEWS

‣ Since emotion is the major source of variabil-
ity on the special memory-surface one might
expect there to be an optimum level of emo-
tionality for true creativity. At less than this
level there would be too little change, at more
than this level there would be too much fixity.
It is true that the patterns fixed by over-
emotionality might be worthwhile for their
unusualness, but there would not be a crea-
tive fluidity about them. /279

‣ The essential feature of the special memory-
surface is that it is a passive system which
provides an opportunity for information to
organize itself. Much of the information
comes from the environment, but a good deal
is supplied by internal patterns which repre-
sent the needs and the emotions of the body
that is using the memory-surface. /280

‣ The major theme of Eastern philosophy is the
arbitrariness and artificiality of the separate
units that have been carved out of the envi-
ronment by the selfishness of the human
spirit. The ultimate aim is to dissolve these
separate units—and the self as one of them—
back into the continuum of nature. Western
philosophy, on the other hand, emphasizes
the usefulness and sometimes the perma-
nence of certain patterns. The ultimate aim is
not to get rid of patterns, as in the East, but to
achieve the right patterns. /280

49
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

Serious Creativity
Using the Power of Lateral Thinking to Create New Ideas
New York: Penguin, 1992, reprinted 1996

In Serious Creativity, de Bono continues the line of thought previously
exhibited in The Use of Lateral Thinking and The Mechanism of Mind.
However, Serious Creativity is a more elaborated study of lateral think-
ing in its broadest and most practical dimensions.

Review
The book consists of three major parts.

In Part One, Edward de Bono writes about the need for
creative thinking and shows its theoretical and practical
applications.
The author leaves no doubt that his approach is not
destined for artists and creators, but primarily for business
people. Thus, not artistic creativity or inspirational creativ-
ity is the main field of application of de Bono’s approach to

50
BOOK REVIEWS

creativity, but creativity used for developing new and prof-
itable ideas for marketing products and for succeeding in
the competitive world of trade. Accordingly, the style and
the language of the book are ideally suited for entrepre-
neurs and executives, and it provides what the author calls
take-away value. Interestingly, and unlike the two predeces-
sors, lateral thinking is now only one element among oth-
ers within the ten sub-chapters that throw different lights
on the important question for every innovative company:
how can we find and develop new and successful ideas?
Part Two is a detailed and highly elaborated analysis of
the use of lateral thinking in the brainstorming process.
The quality and exclusiveness of the material presented
here is such that it by far outreaches the competence of a
creativity manager or innovation department; but on the
other hand, corporate leaders or executive committees will
seldom have the time and tranquil setting needed to digest
the innovative ideas and creative tools presented in this
book, and to make the utmost profit out of it. It is therefore
important to emphasize what de Bono repeatedly suggests
in his books, that is, to create special Concept R&D Depart-
ments that are to be created in the future for the purpose of
providing new organizational concepts for the growth and
expansion of any company.
The material presented in the book is so vast that it
surpasses the space to discuss it in a book review, so much
the more as de Bono has included his famous Six Thinking
Hats brainstorming technique among sixteen other creative

51
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

thinking techniques that are worth to be studied and tried
out in practice.
The third part of the study is concerned with the prac-
tical application of creative thinking. This chapter is indis-
pensable for anyone who wants to setup training seminars
or workshops on serious creativity.
It is written in a clear and practical style. Every sugges-
tion the author made here is useful in the day-to-day run-
ning of seminars or company workshops on creativity. Not
to forget the Appendixes which are jewels for the training
practitioner:

‣ Appendix One: Lateral Thinking Techniques;

‣ Appendix Two: Use of Lateral Thinking Techniques;

‣ Appendix Three: Harvesting Checklist;

‣ Appendix Four: Treatment of Ideas Checklist.

To summarize, this book has more practical and direct-
to-use value than its two predecessors which however
have laid the theoretical foundation so that this book could
come to existence. De Bono’s brilliant diction and his smart
in presenting highly complex content makes this book,
among all others by the same author, a true enrichment of
any business library.

52
BOOK REVIEWS

Quotes
‣ Although it is now beginning to do a little bit
about the direct teaching of thinking as a
skill, education does very little indeed /
about teaching creative thinking. /Introduc-
tion 2-3

‣ If every valuable creative idea is indeed logi-
cal in hindsight, then it is only natural to
suppose, and to claim, that such ideas could
have been reached by logic in the first place
and that creativity is unnecessary. This is the
main reason why, culturally, we have never
paid serious attention to creativity. I would
say that over 95 percent of academics world-
wide still hold this view. Sadly, this view is
totally wrong. /Introduction 3

‣ In a passive information system (externally
organized system), it is perfectly correct to
claim that any idea that is logical in hindsight
must be accessible to logic in the first place.
But it is not so in an active information sys-
tem (self-organizing system) in which the
asymmetry of patterns means that an idea be
be logical and even obvious in hindsight but
invisible to logic in the first place. /Introduc-
tion 3

‣ It is difficult to condemn brainstorming be-
cause it has some value and does sometimes
produce results; but, in my experience, it is
53
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

old-fashioned and inefficient. We can do
much better with deliberate systematic tech-
niques. Nor is there any need for creativity to
be a group process as in brainstorming. An
individual can be even more creative on his
or her own—with the proper skills. /Intro-
duction 4

‣ Associated with brainstorming has been the
notion that deliberate creative thinking has to
be ‘crazy’ or ‘off-the-wall’ in order to be effec-
tive. This notion of craziness is a complete
misunderstanding of the nature of creativity
and is fostered by those who do not really
understand the true nature of provocation.
Because provocation is different from normal
experience and because anything ‘crazy’ is
also different from normal experience, it is
assumed the two are the same. /Introduction
5

‣ I regard creative thinking (lateral thinking) as
a special type of information handling. It
should take its place alongside our other
methods of handling information: mathemat-
ics, logical analysis, computer simulation,
and so on. /Introduction 6

‣ I believe that the crude word ‘creativity’ cov-
ers a wide range of different skills. In this
book I do not set out to talk about artistic
creativity. I have been taught by playwrights,

54
BOOK REVIEWS

composers, poets, and rock musicians that
they sometimes use my techniques of lateral
thinking. That is always nice to hear, but I am
not setting out to improve the skills of artistic
creativity as such. I am very specifically con-
cerned with the creative skills needed to
change concepts and perceptions. /4

‣ My preference is to look directly at the be-
havior of self-organizing information sys-
tems. These systems are patterning systems.
They make and use patterns. From an analy-
sis of the behavior and potential behavior in
such systems we can get a very clear idea of
the nature of creativity. (…) The logic of crea-
tivity is the logic of patterning systems … /4

‣ Understanding the logic of creativity does
not itself make you more creative. But it does
make you aware of the necessity for creativ-
ity. It also explains the design of certain crea-
tive techniques and shows why apparently
illogical techniques are actually quite logical
within the logic of patterning systems. Above
all, understanding the logic of creativity mo-
tivates a person to do something about crea-
tivity. /5

‣ Red Telephones were pay phones maintained
at a high standard and owned by a private
company that has since been bought by Aus-
tralian Telecom. The difficulty was that in

55
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

Australia local calls were not timed; for the
same initial cost, a user could talk for a long
time. (…) In the end he id find a new ap-
proach. He arranged with the makers of the
telephone handset to put a lot of lead into the
handset. This made the handset heavy and
long calls became very tiring. Apparently the
idea worked, and to this day Red Telephones
are unusually heavy. /6

‣ The neglect of humor by traditional philoso-
phers, psychologists, information scientists,
and mathematicians clearly shows that they
were only concerned with passive, externally
organized information systems. It is only
very recently that mathematicians have be-
come interested in nonlinear and unstable
systems (chaos, catastrophe theory, and so
on). /8

‣ In an active system … the information and
the surface are active and the information or-
ganizes itself without the help of an external
organizer. That is why such systems are
called self-organizing. /8

‣ What computers find so hard to do (pattern
recognition) the brain does instantly and
automatically. /11

‣ The brain can only see what it is prepared to
see (existing patterns). So when we analyze

56
BOOK REVIEWS

data we can only pick out the idea we al-
ready have. /11

‣ We need creativity in order to break free from
the temporary structures that have been set
up by a particular sequence of experience.
/17

‣ Changing patterns is just as difficult as trying
to give a word a totally new meaning when-
ever you choose to. Words are patterns of
perception and experience. /17

‣ Doing the old things better is not going to be
enough. There is a need to do things differ-
ently. /19

‣ Most executives, many scientists, and almost
all business and school graduates believe that
if you analyze data, this will give you new
ideas. Unfortunately, this belief is totally
wrong. The mind can only see what it is pre-
pared to see. /24

‣ The systematic creative techniques of lateral
thinking can be used formally and deliber-
ately in order to generate new ideas and to
change perceptions. These techniques and
tools can be learned and practiced and ap-
plied when needed. The tools are directly de-
rived from a consideration of the logic of per-
ception, which is the logic of a self-

57
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

organizing information system that forms
and then uses patterns. /51

‣ The production of the ingredients for infor-
mation processing is the role of perception. It
is perception that organizes the world into
the x’s and y’s that we then process with
mathematics. It is perception that gives us the
observations or propositions that then handle
with logic. It is perception that gives us the
words and the choice of words with which
we think about anything. /57

‣ While we have developed excellent process-
ing systems, we have done very little about
perception - because we have not understood
perception. We have always assumed that
perception operates, like processing, in a pas-
sive, externally organized information sys-
tem. That makes perception impossible to
understand. It is only in the last twenty years
that we have begun to understand the behav-
ior of self-organizing information systems
and self-organizing neural networks. Now
we have a conceptual model with which we
can begin to understand perception, humor,
and creativity. /58

‣ Most of the mistakes in thinking are inade-
quacies of perception rather than mistakes of
logic. /58

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‣ If we set out to attack something, then others
will rush to defend the existing way of doing
things. A lot of unnecessary time is used in
attack and defense. Even worse, there will be
a polarization between those who defend the
status quo and those who seem to be attack-
ing it. So it is much better to avoid judgment
and to indicate that there is no attack on the
status quo but just an exploration of other
possibilities. Such possibilities would never
replace the existing methods unless the new
ideas could be clearly shown to be superior.
/105

‣ The creative challenge simply refuses to ac-
cept that the current way is necessarily the
best way. /105

‣ Because the creative challenge is not an at-
tacking challenge, even the most useful po-
larizations can be challenged: is this the only
way of looking at it? /118

59
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

Sur/Petition
Creating Value Monopolies when
Everybody Else is Merely Competing
New York: Fontana, 1992, HarperCollins, 1993

Edward de Bono’s book Sur/Petition is very important. All the issues
that he tackles in this extremely well-written book are still today hot
issues, in the sense that they are unresolved so far in most businesses.

But let us ask, ‘What is Sur/Petition?’ The basic subject
matter of the book is the issue of creating value monopolies.
Competing literally means ‘struggling together,’ whereas
surpeting, by contrast, means struggling ahead of others.
How to get ahead of your competitors?
The answer is by offering more value, integrated value,
value that is yet unmatched by others and that, therefore,
becomes a monopoly. As Dr. de Bono explains, value mo-
nopolies are not illegal forms of business conduct because
they serve the customer; they are specific solutions for the

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BOOK REVIEWS

paradigm that Karl Albrecht called Total Quality Service or
briefly TQS, as a parallel to Total Quality Management or
TQM. This approach puts the customer first in the agenda,
not housekeeping or the company tradition.
Value monopolies can only be created after brainstorm-
ing has taken place which is based on a serious effort to un-
derstand and value the needs of the customer.
It seems that presently multinational corporations are
beginning to grasp the importance of giving the customer
solutions that are of real value.
De Bono, as always, has looked into the future and of-
fered solutions that most people, at the time of publishing
the ideas, were not ready to grasp.

The example that de Bono cites regarding Ford strikes.
He consulted Ford Britain to buy a company that owned
large car parks all over Great Britain. He argued that cars
are no more than a lump of engineering and that a cus-
tomer who buys a car wants and needs more, and more
service in the first place. One of those needs being the urge
to find a parking lot in town, de Bono’s idea seemed bril-
liant. Now Ford could have connected a value to the exist-
ing value ‘car’ which would have created a value monop-
oly for the company. De Bono’s idea was precisely that at
the entrance of those car parks a note would have been put
that only Ford cars could enter them—and no other cars.
However, Ford did not see the chance nor the need of
its customers for more integrated value and thus did not
follow the proposal.
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EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

Some years ago, the popular German car maker Volks-
wagen was brainstorming on the same lines and they cre-
ated Volkswagen Bank as a result, and a free basic insurance
for home and family, given free for every car buyer.
To make it round, third in the package was a credit
card offer for new car customers. Not only did Volkswagen
sell more cars, the Volkswagen Bank surprisingly for many
became one of the most successful and effectively man-
aged banks in Germany.

The example was inspiring. Mercedes-Benz and BMW
followed suit and developed similar surplus-value con-
cepts and opened their Mercedes Bank and BMW Bank.
What they give is even more. Every new customer, be-
sides the afore-mentioned benefits, receives a credit card,

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BOOK REVIEWS

that gives a range of benefits so numerous that it fills a lit-
tle booklet.
De Bono always questions traditional ways of doing
things and goes straight to the root of problems.
In the first chapter that is entitled What is Wrong with
the Fundamentals? he calls efficiency and problem-solving
mere maintenance procedures and concludes that only ef-
fective solutions can bring success in the long run.

Today, most of the Fortune 500 companies have real-
ized this and other of de Bono’s early ideas, but when de
Bono voiced these requirements twenty years ago, he was
taken as a visionary with lacking sense for reality. As it is so
often the case, in hindsight we see that he had more sense
of reality than all his contradictors since what he predicted
so many years ago is business reality today!
Reading Sur/Petition, you get a feeling that in most
businesses, there is a desperate longing for more creativity
while at the same time creative thinking is rejected as an
illusion, time waster, or as something for artists only.
Intelligent ways of dealing with business, and effective
solutions, in the past as today are the exception.
Even Fortune 500 companies that are the most likely to
adopt strategies and fixes as de Bono suggests them, are
not immune against old mistakes. The high turndown rate
among Fortune 500s is an indicator for this fact. It is not
enough to just understand the principles and to establish

63
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

planning committees. The art of management is to walk
the talk one wants all in the company to walk.
My experience has shown that often corporate leaders
are well ready to follow the advice of consultants but they
think that they themselves are beyond the need for consul-
tancy. The hairy truth is that, in the contrary, the boss has
to adopt the new attitude first and thoroughly walk it through
before he can expect others down in the corporate hierar-
chy to adopt it.

Interestingly, when we study successful entrepreneurs,
we see that they intuitively apply the principles Edward de
Bono writes about.
I would cite Bill Gates as an example; his extraordinary
success is not chance and it is not just luck. What I found
after having studied various sources about him as well as
information received from people working with him is that
he applies all these principles in his leadership style. Gates
goes even beyond. He is one of the few entrepreneurs who
voluntarily apply chaos principles in their management to

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BOOK REVIEWS

get out of linear movement and into the magic of seren-
dipitous strikes.
What is perhaps the final secret for the success in busi-
ness is the combination of technical competence (the hard-
ware) and people competence (the software).
What Microsoft has done to get out of the claws of its
competition, and sur/pete was:

‣ Creating value monopolies based upon precise knowl-
edge regarding to what the mass customer expects and
needs;

‣ Intelligent concept design that gives a familiar look to
all Microsoft software;

‣ Superior striving for providing the utmost user-
friendliness, intuitive handling and ease-of-use;

‣ Very conscious and careful approach in customer care
and follow-up;

‣ Leading position in advancing new technologies, and
courage and expertise to do so;

‣ Most advanced approach for people care;

‣ Very careful examination of what the competition is
doing for quickly and often boldly sur/peting it.

A company that does not value its own achievements
and strength will not succeed. However, high self-esteem,
as de Bono observed, is in practice often replaced by com-
placency. Complacency is such a destructive attitude that

65
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

he devoted twelve pages, a whole subchapter, to its discus-
sion.
More than once, de Bono reports that arrogance and
complacency are what he found to be the two strongest im-
pediments for implementing new customer-focused man-
agement strategies.
A very interesting part of the book, for those who are
not yet familiar with value-based management is chapter
eight entitled The Three Stages of Business.
These three stages are outlined as—

‣ Product Values

‣ Competitive Values

‣ Integrated Values

It is only logical that at the end of this thorough study,
de Bono suggests to implement Concept R&D Departments,
a brilliant idea.

The author notes that in traditional business settings, it
is still considered a threat to empower employees and to
establish think tank groups.
As long as business or government is managed like the
military—and this was really the traditional way to man-
age large corporations and government agencies all over
the world—we will not be able to move into management
and leadership that is—
—Team driven instead of person driven;

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BOOK REVIEWS

—People driven instead of technology driven;
—Progressive, effective and ecological;
—Flexible and unbureaucratic.

One of the purposes of Edward de Bono’s contribu-
tions was to help us move away from this old management
paradigm that has become archaic and ineffective, and im-
plement an effective, sustainable and people-driven busi-
ness management paradigm that is based upon values and
the virtue of satisfying value-driven customer needs.
To summarize, this book that is not
one of the most well-known Bono
books, is yet one of the best produc-
tions of the author. For all people
concerned with management, it is
one of the most original and valuable
books on management success strate-
gies that have ever been published.
I would even go as far as saying
that it is a must-read for everyone who is in some way in-
volved in leading people into the postindustrial era.
At the time de Bono wrote this book, most of his daring
ideas were rejected by the mainstream management para-
digm. The author’s reputation as the think tank and trainer
did not change this fact, nor the fact that among his clients
were large multinational corporations. This is the some-
what frustrating point of departure of the book in the
author’s own words:

67
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

Government needs thinking very badly but does surpris-
ingly little of it. (…) Business handles the analytical side of
thinking quite well. But there is a need for improvement in
the constructive, creative, and conceptual side. In the future,
this is the aspect of thinking that is going to be essential for
success./XX

With his habitual lucidity, Edward de Bono shows the
present discrepancy between a new paradigm of quality
management and the emphasis on housekeeping that used
to be the flaw of traditional management.
Down the road, you have to provide values that cus-
tomers want, writes de Bono.
We can only hope that both government and business
leaders will comprehend and implement de Bono’s futuris-
tic ideas so that the new business culture will be more cus-
tomer driven, more flexibly intelligent and more creative.

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BOOK REVIEWS

Tactics
The Art and Science of Success
London: Pilot Productions Ltd., 1985
Fontana, 1991
Harper & Collins, 1993

Edward de Bono’s book Tactics is a thoroughly empirical study on the
subject of success and the various factors that contribute to a person
experiencing success. Together with a team of researchers, fifty-five
highly successful people from business, finance, sports, art and fashion
were interviewed.

Excerpts of these interviews together with the author’s
very original classification of success into various catego-
ries and subcategories make the core of this most unusual
and highly readable book.
To be true, the book is a treasure! The information you
get out of it is among the most valuable you can obtain not
only for your business career but for your life as a whole.

69
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

Most of the people interviewed show really uncommon
views, high originality, and a daring, non-conventional, high-
spirited, intelligent and bold approach to life, an approach that
is never, in this form, taught or encouraged in school or
university.
Let me start this review by having a look at the main
characteristics that the author found to be valid for success
in life and business:

—Creative style;
—Energy, drive and direction;
—Confidence and self-confidence;
—Stamina and hard work;
—Effectiveness;

—Ruthlessness;
—Ability to cope with failure;
—Tactics.
These were found to be the positively stimulating fac-
tors of success. Interestingly, not only the positive stimu-
lants such as power, money or self-image were found to be
contributing to success but also negative stimulants such
as anxiety.
The latter view is uncommon. Especially the exponents
of the positive thinking movement seem to suggest that a
well-directed life is one free of anxiety. Nope! Very success-
ful entrepreneurs such as Robert Holmes à Court speak
another language.

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BOOK REVIEWS

Let me quote a passage in which de Bono summarizes
the findings collected from different interviews on the mat-
ter of anxiety:

It is interesting that with successful people the anxieties are
propellant rather than retardant. The anxieties push the en-
trepreneur forward rather than hold him back. There does
not seem to be a search for the easy way or for security as
such./60

Edward de Bono lists several traditional positions that
he has seen to play a major role in success, such as—
—Being lucky;
—Being a little mad;
—Being very talented;

—Operating in a rapid growth field.

Lord Grade

An important part of the study deals with the way
ideas are relevant for practice and for successful action.

71
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

Let’s see what one of the interviewees has to say on
this subject:

Lord Grade
The ideas you want are real ideas; they’re not fanta-
sies. There is a difference. The real ideas can be put
into action. They are not dreams; they’re something
real. And what gets the team confident is that the
entire team, the whole company, is successful./38

Lord Grade

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The question of style emerges boldly in this study. De
Bono observes that changing one’s personal style and imi-
tating somebody else’s style is not a success formula.

Success is based upon polishing and refining one’s per-
sonal style, even though it may be a style that few people
possess. In a paragraph entitled Characteristics of Typically
Successful Styles, de Bono gives examples for energy, drive
and direction as being one successful style among many.

This is what David Mahoney, named in Fortune Maga-
zine as one of the ten toughest bosses in America, has to
say about this subject:

David Mahoney
I just keep moving every day as hard and fast as I
can. High-intensity and high-voltage. Light comes
from that, not from passivity. I insist we all do our
best every day. I’m intense in everything I do and I
expect others will be, too. There may be timing fac-
tors in it, good luck and fortune factors, but the
question is, do you utilize it? Some of it you can’t
control—some of it goes against you—it works both
ways. You run to daylight—where you see the break
you go. Most people aren’t even aware of what’s
happening around them. Two-thirds of the people
don’t know what’s going on to them, personally./39

There are of course other styles, such as the creative
and inspiring style of Alex Kroll, president of the world’s
largest advertising agency, who transforms every challenge
into a game-like arrangement that is inspiring himself and

73
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

his staff for finding creative solutions. In addition, there
are the managerial and the entrepreneurial styles. The
question is if ego-based styles or can-do are original styles
or if they are just attributes to other styles?

Alex Kroll

Chris Bonington who climbed Annapurna II, the Eiger
North Wall, Kangur, Ogre, Annapurna South Face, and South-
West Face of Everest says that it’s also the great drive to find
something in yourself, or the curiosity of finding whether
this can be done. The question if one can achieve some-
thing daring and difficult is a constant tenor in ambitious
people’s life. There is no security in this, no conviction.
There is only intuition, and it can be very strong, as in case
of Paul McCready who incarnates the can-do style or atti-
tude. This man made the first plane that flies only by using
muscle power, without any motor, and he says:

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BOOK REVIEWS

Paul McCready
I went single-mindedly and with considerable as-
surance towards the goal./41

Nolan Bushnell, creator of the video game industry,
worth $70 million after the first decade of running a com-
pany with a $500 investment, says that he always feels like
there is a solution. There we are indeed in the realm of an-
ticipation, of sixth sense, of intuition.
Another style or style element is self-confidence and a
certain amount of conceit. Roy Cohn, described by Esquire
Magazine as a ‘legal executioner … the toughest, meanest,
vilest and one of the most brilliant lawyers in America’
says:
You also have to have a certain amount of conceit,
which leads you to believe that you and you alone
can get things moving./42

In this chapter, de Bono examines all these possible
styles and gives examples from the abundant material that
the interviews provided to this purpose. He summarizes:

‣ Develop your personal style and refine it;

‣ Build on your strong points or characteristics;

‣ Do not try to alter your weak points or characteristics;

‣ Make sure that every choice or decision comply with
your style;

‣ Choose the circumstances that best fit your style;

75
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

‣ Be bold and egocentric;

‣ Use failure as a shadow that gives dimensions to the
picture.

And the author to comment: ‘An inflated balloon is
vulnerable, but that is the only way it is going to fly.’/57
The other chapters of the book deal with what triggers
success, and what are the factors that may have a more
subtle impact upon success.
Part II of the book teaches how to prepare for success
and Part III points out six factors that are important to
practice for everyone who sets out to be successful.

—Strategy;
—Decision-making;
—Opportunity;
—Risk;
—Strategy for people as resources;

—Tactical play.
I can only express my admiration for this careful and
precious study that has enriched my life in an extraordi-
nary manner.
Every time I read again chapters from this book, it re-
veals me new insights, horizons and hints for my life, and
in addition lets me participate in the lives of highly suc-
cessful people.

76
Bibliography
Contextual Bibliography

Boldt, Laurence G.
Zen and the Art of Making a Living
A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design
New York: Penguin Arkana, 1993
How to Find the Work You Love
New York: Penguin Arkana, 1996
Zen Soup
Tasty Morsels of Wisdom from Great Minds East & West
New York: Penguin Compass, 1997
The Tao of Abundance
Eight Ancient Principles For Abundant Living
New York: Penguin Arkana, 1999

Butler-Bowden, Tom
50 Success Classics
Winning Wisdom for Work & Life From 50 Landmark Books
London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 2004

De Bono, Edward
The Use of Lateral Thinking
New York: Penguin, 1967
The Mechanism of Mind
New York: Penguin, 1969
EDWARD DE BONO AND THE MECHANISM OF MIND

Serious Creativity
Using the Power of Lateral Thinking to Create New Ideas
London: HarperCollins, 1996
Sur/Petition
London: HarperCollins, 1993
Tactics
London: HarperCollins, 1993
First published in 1985

Borg, James
Persuasion
2nd Edition
New York: Pearson Books, 2008

Covey, Stephen R.
The 8th Habit
From Effectiveness to Greatness
London: Simon & Schuster, 2006
The 3rd Alternative
Solving Life’s Most Difficult Problems
London: Simon & Schuster, 2012

Hill, Napoleon
The Law of Success
The Master Wealth-Builder’s Complete and Original Lesson
Plan for Achieving Your Dreams
New York: Penguin, 2008
First published in 1928

Krause, Donald G.
Sun Tzu
The Art of War for Executives
London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 1995

Welch, Jack
Winning
With Suzy Welch
New York: HarperBusiness, 2005

78
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Zyman, Sergio
The End of Marketing as We Know It
New York: HarperCollins, 2000

79
Personal Notes