Onward, Upward, Edward! (Pt i)

dr edward de bono greatest thinkers innovation May 15, 2019

I thought it fitting that, as the upcoming month of May will be celebrating the birthday of the Father of Lateral Thinking, Dr. Edward de Bono, we should pay homage to this great mind – who has contributed and inspired so much to teaching thinking in the world.

I recall when I was first employed as Creative Director at MNET, and the pamphlet was circulated for a corporate event. A Business Solutions company was holding a conference for three days, and the speaker was Dr. Edward de Bono. I had no idea who this person was or what he did. When Chris Raats, our Marketing Director at that time, told me to gather two or three producers and go see, I wasn’t going to argue.

And boy, am I glad I didn’t!

As I remember, it was a Lateral Thinking and Six Thinking Hats Workshop. I was startled to learn at the time that there were no agencies, no creatives, no entertainment people other than our small delegation of some six or seven TV people in the large room of at least a thousand.

The rest all from large corporations; banks and financial services and government institutions and then a few smaller enterprises. All suits.

To this day I still find it sad that many “creative people” are too arrogant to pick up a De Bono book and flip through it. They are all fun and quirky. Easy reads. And the concepts are fantastic. Tools and methods and ways to find your next big creative idea.

The De Bono seminars have always been very slick. He works with an overhead projector and a carefully structured series of exercises that explain a methodology and then take you through the steps, usually backwards, so that you don’t trip over the details of where to begin – but rather understand how the tool works. In the early days he never used to wear dark glasses, which over the years have become his trademark, necessary to filter the glare from the projector.

“No magic. Just simple logic”, Dr. de Bono always says.

And it is a lot of fun, filled with the finest humor and those wonderful sketches that explain everything in the most simple form with stick men and women. I particularly remember the foolish woman, who at the end of the third day, during Q&A, took him on because she believed that he had only drawn stick men and found that offensive. He immediately rolled back and story after story, there they were: stick men and women in triangular skirts!

I have always loved those sketches! But it wasn’t till many years later that I finally got the courage together to ask him to draw me one or two…

Over time I have had the tremendous pleasure of meeting Dr. de Bono whenever he came to South Africa and because I recall each visit very fondly, I have decided to write about it. Over the next few posts I hope that you will enjoy some of those moments with me. For as little time as I may have spent in his company, this is surely one of the people who most inspired my own thinking.

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