Friday, December 04, 2009

Edward de Bono's weekly message: We Need to Add...

Complacent, adequate, sufficient all imply that something is not wrong or bad. Our normal language and thinking behaviour does not have a convenient way of saying: "That is excellent but not enough." Or we might need to say, "That is excellent, but that is only part of the picture." When I talk about the need for better thinking, I sometimes assume that I am attacking existing thinking as being wrong. It is not wrong. It is only wrong when it assumes that it is sufficient. We need to add perceptual thinking, creative thinking, design thinking and exploratory thinking.

Edward de Bono
25th November 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

EACI's Creativity Walk of Fame

Edward de Bono was just awarded the inaugural membership of the Creativity Walk of Fame by the European Association of Creativity and Innovation. Congratulations, Edward!

Edward de Bono's weekly message: No natural limit

There is no natural limit to traffic - which is increasing everywhere. There is no natural limit to communication which is also increasing rapidly. The excellence of the communications channels does not ensure that what goes through those channels is of high value. Perhaps we need some simple code for communication. This might distinguish five areas: reply; vital; important; useful; fun.

Edward de Bono
30th October 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Edward de Bono's weekly message: Rush to Design

In conflict situations we rush to judgement. In courts of law we rush to judgement. We never seek to design a way forward.

Design is putting together what you have in order to deliver the value you want.

Design is every bit as important in real life as analysis, yet design is nowhere in education outside graphic design, etc.

Design should be a key part of education from the youngest age upwards. I used to run a design competition for youngsters. The range of concepts used by them was very impressive. One day I should write a book ‘Design for education’ to be used in all classes.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Learn Blue Ocean Strategy in London

The Blue Ocean Strategy Simulation, October 13-14 in London, will teach you the principles, methodologies, and tools of the bestselling strategy book.

In a rich, interactive simulation, teams will manage a company facing vicious competition in a declining industry. Using Blue Ocean thinking, you will re-define the industry, launch innovative new products, and learn to make the competition irrelevant.

Learn to apply Blue Ocean thinking to your own business. Get more info and register online for the Blue Ocean Strategy Simulation.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Is Google Losing Its Vaunted Culture of Innovation?

Google is frequently lauded as amongst the most creative companies in the world. This week's Economist describes how Google, like every large organization, has struggled to retain its culture of innovation during its exponential growth from a startup to a hegemon.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Kevin Kelly has a nice overview of Brian Eno's concept of "scenius", or collaborative genius. I imagine that Dr. de Bono would approve of Eno's pithy turn of phrase. He would certainly agree with Eno's observation that collaboration enhances innovation. The best new ideas come from groups of individuals who interact and respond to each other, rather than from a solitary genius working in isolation.

Women - Small and Mid-Sized Businesses - Multimedia

Edward de Bono will open next month's "Women - Small and Mid-Sized Businesses - Multimedia" conference in Warsaw, Poland.

The conference's goal is "to present to the SMB sector, especially to women managing their own companies the ways of introducing new (creative) solutions for organisation, management, offered services or products or for the applied technologies, to show methods for project team-building and for applying lateral thinking." The conference is part of the EU's Year of Creativity and Innovation program.

Edward de Bono's weekly message: Design in the curriculum!

Schools are all about knowledge and analysis. So are universities. Most human thinking is based on analysis which allows us to identify standard situations and then we can apply the standard behaviour or solution. This is like a doctor in a clinic diagnosing the disease and then prescribing the standard treatment.

This behaviour is excellent and most useful. But it is ebne. Design is equally important. Yet design does not figure on the curriculum in schools and universities.

I used to run a design competition in an education magazine. There was a very good response even from youngsters as young as four years old.

Edward de Bono
5th August 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009

Edward de Bono's weekly message: New book

My latest book (published July 2nd) is called 'THINK: before it is too late'. In it I suggest that the biggest problem facing humanity is not climate change but inadequate thinking. We are very complacent and even proud of our thinking. We can land men on the moon. WE can tap atomic energy. We have the internet, WE have supersonic flight etc. We have done very well in the area of science and technology because we have developed 'thinking for finding the truth'.

I have suggested the new word 'ebne' which means excellent but not enough. Our existing thinking is ebne but not enough. We have never developed 'thinking for creating value'.

In conflicts we rush to judge who is wrong and seek to punish that party. We do not try to design a way forward.

Edward de Bono
20th July 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Coke Freestyle

Coca-Cola is rolling out what looks to be a groundbreaking new drinks dispenser: Coke Freestyle. Your standard fountain machine at any fast-food joint has six or eight different types of fizzy drinks - Coke, Diet Coke, Cherry Coke, Sprite, etc. Instead of trifling 6-8 options, the Coke Freestyle machines will give consumers more than a hundred flavors.

At first blush, this might seem like a new version of the cable TV problem: "Five hundred channels and nothing on." But Coke Freestyle is actually a terrifically innovative development.

First, it offers huge scope for new product development. It is expensive and time-consuming to develop new drinks, pilot them in various test markets, and (maybe) roll them out nationally. Freestyle bypasses this entire process, allowing Coca-Cola to test hundreds - even thousands - of new products simultaneously. The cost of a new drink is minimal - just slap a different bag of syrup in the machine, update the machine's software with the new recipe, and that's it. And because each machine via the Internet to Coca-Cola's IT systems, the results of these experiments are available to managers in real-time.

Second, Freestyle enables regional differentiation. Maybe Peach Coke will be popular in Georgia but a flop everywhere else. Similarly, whilst the nation as a whole might shun Java Coke, it could be a huge hit with Seattlites.

Third, Coca-Cola can observe how tastes change throughout the day. For example, Freestyle has led Coke's managers to discover a surprising, mid-afternoon increase in sales of caffeine-free and sugar-free drinks. This valuable insight will drive some of their marketing decisions, enabling them to better target consumers in the post-lunch lull.

Finally, Coke Freestyle facilitates better inventory management. The dispensers monitor their own inventory levels, signalling store managers when a bag of syrup starts to run dry. In other words, Coca-Cola is applying the just-in-time management philosophy to its drinks machines, which allows the company to tie up less capital.

In short, the new dispenser is a huge advance for the fizzy drinks industry.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Edward de Bono's New Book

Edward de Bono's latest book is now available: Think! Before It's Too Late: 23 Reasons Why World Thinking Is So Poor.

At present, it's available only in the UK. So far, there's no word on a US release.

Innovation in Public Transportation

Could a secret weapon against climate change be hiding in the mountains of South America? According to the New York Times, maybe so.

Yesterday's edition includes a fascinating article about public transportation in Bogota. The Colombian capital - a city of some 9 million people - has implemented a high-speed bus network called TransMilenio ("TransMillenium"), which has simultaneously slashed passengers' commute times and reduced the city's fuel use by 60%.

How? In a sense, the network is a bus-subway hybrid. In other words, the city has taken the speed and efficiency of subways and the low costs of buses, combining them to create a completely new model.

TransMilenio operates with dedicated lanes; it doesn't share pavement with cars, trucks, or motorcycles. It is also designed to transfer large numbers of passengers very quickly (as opposed to traditional buses, where passengers board individually). Finally, the stations are large and centrally located (unlike traditional buses, which stop for passengers every 2-3 blocks). As such, TransMilenio moves large numbers of people very quickly through the city, and it doesn't get gridlocked during rush-hour traffic. A bus system is also significantly cheaper to build and operate than a subway system.

It's a terrifically innovative solution to a universal problem, and cities around the world are studying and adopting the TransMilenio model. If rapid-transit bus networks become commonplace, the decreased fossil fuel consumption could make a sizable dent in the climate change problem.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Des Moines Innovation Summit

de Bono Consulting CEO and President, Barbara Stennes, is gearing up for the Innovation Summit for Business Leaders in Des Moines on July 23.

The interactive and engaging event will explore the skills needed to become more innovative, and how to engage your workforce in strategic innovation during challenging times. Attendees will also participate in the Medici Game, led by simulations expert, Dan Topf.

Learn more about the Innovation Summit.

Register for the Innovation Summit.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Airline Innovation

Ryanair, Europe's leading discount airline, has an innovative idea for air travel: standing room only.

I'm pretty sure that the Onion had this idea years ago, but I can't find in their archives.

Edward de Bono's weekly message: Perception

It is not possible to pay attention to everything at once. In a market there are different stalls so that you need only pay attention to one thing - once you have chosen that thing. The CoRT programme so widely used in schools provides frameworks for directing attention. It is incredible that education has never realised that attention and perception are a much more important part of thinking than logic. Yet such things are completely absent in education. Many years ago, David Perkins at Harvard showed that ninety per cent of errors of thinking were errors of perception. Goedel's theorem shows how from within a system you can never logically prove the starting points - which remain arbitrary perceptions.

Again it may be that the Church influence on thinking neglected perception because in Church thinking matters of faith replaced actual perception.

Edward de Bono
20th June 2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cement Your Reputation as a Leader of Innovative Thinking

To celebrate the European Year of Creativity & Innovation Edward de Bono, currently European Ambassador for Thinking 2009, has launched an online competition to find his greatest students.

All creative thinkers who use de Bono methods are invited to submit their success stories in a very creative way—by blogging on one of Edward de Bono’s newest websites. Find out more at

Note: de Bono Consulting will be happy to help any client or trainer in our U.S. network write your story. Just follow these easy steps:

  1. Call 515-278-1292 to arrange an interview time.
  2. Spend 15 to 30 minutes on the scheduled phone interview with our writer, Kathy Myers, co-founder of de Bono Thinking Systems
  3. We’ll develop your story and send it back to you for your editing/approval.
  4. Then follow the directions at the website above to post the story as a blog.

Can't think of a success story? The contest is open until the end of December, 2009. Call us to talk about designing an application of the tools, executing, and documenting the results this fall. We'll support you each step of the way!

For examples of de Bono success stories, order my book, Innovation Case by Case. The book includes 20 accounts of situations where de Bono thinkers applied the tools and achieved notable results.

-Barbara Stennes, de Bono Consulting

Friday, June 26, 2009

Training Magazine Top 125 Contest

Training magazine is now accepting applications for it's Top 125 contest. Visit for details and to apply.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

Innovation and the Economic Crisis

The OECD has released a new report, Policy Responses to the Economic Crisis: Investing in Innovation for Long Term Growth, which documents the relationship between innovation and economic growth. Specifically, the OECD asks how the recession is likely to affect those factors that are most important for long-term economic growth and development, such as innovation and entrepreneurship.

Not surprisingly, they find that companies are cutting their investments in innovation, such as R&D. Other metrics of innovation, such as venture capital investment, show similar trends. This is in line with historical trends, as innovation expenditure generally tracks GDP growth. The problem, of course, is that innovation is precisely one of the drivers of economic recovery. As more firms slash their budgets for innovation, the more difficult it will be to claw our way out of the recession.

But the picture is not entirely bleak. If history is any guide, economic crisis also spurs innovation, in the sense that inefficient companies go bankrupt and scrappy startups pioneer new business models. It's likely that the seeds of tomorrow's Fortune 500 companies are being planted right now.

The report describes other mechanisms by which the crisis is affecting innovation, such as world trade, human capital, and clean technology. Furthermore, it analyzes the policy responses of individual OECD member countries to the crisis, in terms of the size and focus of their various stimulus packages.

It's an excellent report. Do have a read.

Edward de Bono's weekly message: A deliberate creative focus

Our economic system has sort of evolved. Any new inventions have generally regularised something that was happening anyway. It is generally felt that the impact of any new idea would be so strong that new ideas are risky. Indeed, it could be argued that the creative idea of securitising mortgages was the cause of the present economic crisis.

On my website I put forward an idea which will eventually become inevitable. But I do not see it happening for many years.

Perhaps there needs to be a world congress on economics with a direct and deliberate creative focus. Perhaps there needs to be an understanding that 'tinkering' will not always be sufficient.

Edward de Bono
12th June 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Edward de Bono's weekly message: A different sort of Logic!

Our habits of thinking are too much judgement based and not enough design based. This arises from the origin with the GG3 (Greek Gang of Three). When this thinking came into Europe at the Renaissance the Church ran schools, universities and thinking in general. What the Church needed was truth, logic and argument to prove heretics wrong. So we developed an excellent thinking system for 'finding the truth' but we never developed thinking 'for creating value (design)'.

Our language also forces us to use judgement. We need to judge whether something is a 'chair' before we can us the word 'chair'. We cannot easily say 'a sort of thing for sitting on'. So everything ends up in sharp edged boxes. To these we can then apply the logic of Aristotle. Sooner or later I am going to develop a very different sort of logic.

Edward de Bono
6th June 2009

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Are You Focused Yet?

As promised, here are two more tips on Staying Focused from Mike Michalowicz’s Toilet Paper Entrepreneur website.

While reviewing today’s tips, I checked out Claire Tompkins’ blog at and found an amazing array of resources for becoming more organized.

I’ve also been receiving Mike’s updates on the number of hits the Staying Focused list has received. Here is one synopsis he sent to those of us whose tips were posted:

“The post got over 100 views.... A MINUTE.... during the 8 hours of peak traffic time. So far we have over 14,000 unique visitors to the Stay Focused post.

Also, we are on the front page Google for search terms ‘staying focused’ and ‘ways to stay focused’, and are 2nd page Google for many other terms. And the post only went live two days ago!”

It interests me to see that so many people are searching for help on focusing their attention, since this is such a core concept underlying all of Edward de Bono’s thinking tools. Focus is a very powerful tool for creative thinking, a fact that may surprise you. In his book Serious Creativity, Dr. de Bono wrote, “Skilled focus with a little creative skill is probably better than poor focus with great creative skill. So the importance of focus should not be forgotten—especially as it is relatively easy to develop the focus habit.”

Order Serious Creativity by Edward de Bono

Master powerful tools for focusing your attention and energy by enrolling in a de Bono training class. As Edward de Bono said, we can make it easy for you to develop the focus habit.

Today’s Tips on How to Stay Focused

Words of Wisdom
Post a focus statement above your desk.
Examples: It’s the economy, stupid –James Carville.
Just do it –Nike.
It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop –Confucius.

Thanks To: Claire Tompkins of Clutter Coach

Get Into The Spirit Of It
I stay focused, when it’s difficult to do, by getting into the spirit of the subject matter through what I wear and how I set up my space when writing or preparing a speech. If I’m working on a Western, I’ll wear boots and jeans and have a figuring horse by my computer. If writing a spiritual book, I might have a Bible and my teddy-bear-angel next to my computer. I try to make it fun - and act AS IF I’m totally in the spirit of the subject matter.

Thanks To: Linda Seger of Script consulting, seminars, books

Find all 63 of the Staying Focused tips at

Thursday, June 04, 2009

A Marketplace for Creativity?

BootB is a new website with an interesting premise: a marketplace for creativity.

Some users ("Builders") go to the BootB in search of creative ideas. Builders might be anyone: Fortune 500 companies, start-up entrepreneurs, artists or writers looking for inspiration, anybody. They write a project description, offer a fee for the best idea, and post the description.

Other users ("Creatives") go to BootB in search of project briefs. Like builders, creatives can be anyone - from New York advertising agencies to Bolivian high school students. They browse the projects, select the interesting ones, and submit their ideas.

The builder then reads through all the submissions and selects the best idea. The winning creative collects the fee.

It's a nice way to centralize creativity. One drawback, however, is that BootB relies on quantity of ideas, not quality. There's no feedback mechanism that would allow people to break out of their habitual thinking patterns into truly innovative solutions (the Six Thinking Hats and Lateral Thinking techniques are, of course, examples of such a mechanism).

Nonetheless, we're glad to see BootB's efforts to encourage and reward innovative thinking. BootB is an innovative concept in its own right, and we wish them success.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Focus Tips

At de Bono Consulting we are always looking for information that will help our clients and colleagues. Recently Mike Michalowicz, author of the best-selling book The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, asked selected consultants how they stay focused on top priorities during downtimes. I responded and was one of 63 people whose ideas were chosen to appear on his web site

I was pleased to be included, but even better, I collected many other interesting ideas on how successful people manage their time and attention. It's daunting to read the whole list at once, so I've decided to supply two tips per week in my blog posts, along with other information that you might find interesting. (Please do check out Mike's site, as well--he is a great resource.)

Subscribe to our RSS feed so you don't miss a thing. Comment on my blog posts to help me provide the kinds of information you will find most valuable. And thanks for staying connected with de Bono Consulting.

How To Stay Focused

Fear–Plain and Simple
In the heart of every successful entrepreneur, you’ll find fear. Nothing helps you focus quite like it. Harness it. Because if you aren’t able to focus, buckle down and accomplish what needs to be done for your business and your clients (in that order) – you’re finished. Game over.
Thanks To: Joyce Wilden of Buzz Biz Public Relations

Shut and lock the door.
Turn off the phone. Turn off e-mail until the task is done.
Thanks To: Will Limkemann of Siqua Group Limited

Friday, May 29, 2009

Incandescent Innovation

Over the past ten or so years, incandescent light bulbs have fallen out of favor. New designs - such as the compact fluorescent bulb - are far more energy efficient. In fact, the European Union is in the process of phasing out traditional incandescent bulbs, and many countries around the world are following suit.

But the New York Times reports that incandescents may have a new lease on life. Several groups of scientists - from university researchers to lighting corporations - have discovered new techniques for dramatically increasing the energy efficiency of traditional incandescents. Their ideas involve pulse lasers, reflective coatings, and more. Whether next-generation incandescents can keep up with their eco-friendly replacements remains to be seen - but the race is getting more interesting by the day.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Edward de Bono's weekly message: Difficult Times / Problem Solving

There is a difference between difficult times and a problem. With difficult times the universe of action is changed. All logics are only relevant in their particular universe - just as the universe of a patterning system is different from a language universe. The recession at the moment qualifies as a difficult time so a rather different thinking is required from traditional problem solving. Values become even more important. Problem solving usually implies a return to the situation before the problem. That is not possible for an individual or a corporation.

Visitors to this site might like to visit which is intended to bring together people who are using my work.

Friday, May 08, 2009

"Innovation: Case by Case" at ASTD International Conference & Expo

Barb Stennes' book Innovation: Case by Case will be available at ASTD's International Conference and Expo. The book offers twenty case studies of well-known organizations - such as Boeing, ABN AMRO, Motorola, and 3M - that have used the de Bono thinking tools to solve critical problems.

Driving Innovation with Social Media

In a nice post, BookmarkDevil paraphrases Guy Kawasaki and Michael Axelin's suggestions for using social media to drive innovation. Social networking sites - e.g., Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and their ilk - are used primarily for non-commercial purposes; after all, there is a reason that they are called social networking.

But these tools also have commercial applications, and companies are increasingly trying to capitalize on them. The applications include marketing and consumer outreach, new product development, team collaboration, online brainstorming and innovation, and more.

As every business leader knows, innovation is critical to success, and social networking offers multiple tools for any organization to become more innovative. For executives who want to know more, BookmarkDevil's post is a good place to start.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Espresso and print-on-demand

One of the most exciting innovations I have seen recently is the Espresso Book Machine. In essence, the device is a large printer that can that can print a single copy of virtually any book in only a couple minutes. Think of a vending machine with some two million books inside.

This is the type of innovation that could potentially disrupt the entire publishing industry. What Microsoft did for computers, what Skype did for telecommunications,
OnDemandBooks could conceivably do for books.

The publishing industry’s historical business model is “print, ship, sell.” Publishers print the books, which are delivered to bookstores and eventually sold to consumers. Like in any retail environment, inventory management is critical. If a bookstore stocks too many copies of a book, it risks unsold inventory. If it stocks too few, it misses out on sales. Another variable is the number of different books to stock. Large inventories mean (1) typing up lots of capital and (2) renting expensive warehouses or retail stores. On the other hand, large inventories also mean that a store is likely to have whichever book a particular consumer wants.

The bookstore wars of the last thirty years reflect advances on this front. In the good ol’ days, every town had a corner bookshop. The 1980s gave us chains like Waldenbooks and B. Dalton, which featured centralized purchasing and inventory management systems. The 1990s witnessed mega-stores Borders and Barnes & Noble. With fewer (but significantly larger) retail locations, these mega-stores could manage inventory even better. They also became “destination” locations and encouraged shoppers to linger and browse. And of course, the internet age spawned Amazon, which dispensed with the storefront altogether. While innovative in its own way, Amazon nonetheless needed a large technological and logistical infrastructure. What’s more, they manage their inventory as carefully as any other retailer.

The Espresso Book Machine is different. Print-on-demand flips the entire business model on its head: “sell, print.” First the consumer buys the book, and then it is printed. Meanwhile, shipping is eliminated altogether.

Suddenly, inventory management – the most difficult problem faced by every retailer – is a non-issue. The bookstore always has exactly the right number of books in stock – never too many, never too few. Whatever book the customer wants is always in stock. Moreover, the store faces zero inventory cost, which frees up capital. The store can “stock” millions upon millions of titles without needing large stores or warehouses. And shipping costs are eliminated altogether.

In short, print-on-demand is a radical innovation in the publishing world. It will be very interesting to see how things shake out.

And for those who wants to see the Espresso Book Machine firsthand, it’s available at
these locations.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Edward de Bono at the House of Lords

Edward de Bono was recently at the House of Lords, where he led Thinking Evolution, a gathering of experts in a variety of disciplines. Their task? To generate ideas on ways to improve the world.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Edison Awards

The 2009 Edison Awards recently took place. The awards recognize innovation in numerous categories, including:
  • consumer packaged goods
  • lifestyle & social impact
  • living & working environments
  • technology
  • media & communications
  • science & medical
  • energy & sustainability
  • transportation
  • electronics & computers
  • industrial design
Winners include Omnipod (an insulin management system), the Trek Madone 5.2 (a racing bike), and Rio Salado College. The Edison Awards also honored David Kelley, founder and chairman of IDEO, and Susan Desmond-Hellmann, Genentech's president of product development, for their lifetime achievements in innovation. Congratulations to all the winners!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Edward de Bono's weekly message: Soccer

I once suggested a change to the rules of soccer. When there is a draw then extra time is played. If there is still a draw there there is a penalty shoot-out. This introduces an element of luck. In addition if one side has a player good at penalty shooting then that side would win.

My suggestion would reflect the whole game. Every time the goalkeeper touched the ball that side gets a minus point. This would encourage attacks on goal and discourage passing back to the goal-keeper. After extra time if the score was stil equal then the side with the least minus points is the winner. This now reflects the whole game.

It may take a long time for this rule to be adopted. Meantime newspaper reporters could report a game as Goals 3 - 1; de Bono 10 - 30. That way people would get used to the idea.

Edward de Bono
18th April 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Innovation Climate Survey

InnovationTools recently released an Innovation Climate Survey. They find that, despite the recession, companies are by and large continuing to support innovation efforts.
  • Nearly half the respondents reported that in their organizations, the climate for innovation has improved since the economic crisis began. Another one-fourth reported no change. Only one-fourth described a deteriorating innovation climate.
  • Nearly two-thirds report that their budget for innovation initiatives has either grown or remained steady. Only one-third of respondents have witnessed cuts to the innovation budget.
The survey describes the areas that companies are prioritizing for innovation (number one: "looking for creative ways to improve or extend your existing products"). There is also a qualitative section which excerpts respondents' comments.

Friday, April 17, 2009

BusinessWeek's Most Innovative Companies 2009

The latest BusinessWeek rankings of the world's most innovative companies are out.

The winners? Naturally, the top ten are dominated by technology and telecommunications firms: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nintendo, IBM, HP, Research in Motion, Nokia, etc.

But farther down the list, we find a few surprises. Wal-Mart (#10)? McDonald's (#19)? Coca-Cola (#24)?

BusinessWeek has also published its rankings methodology.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Happy World Creativity & Innovation Week!

Today marks the beginning of World Creativity and Innovation Week. In the words of Marci Segal, the co-founder:

World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15 - 21 is a celebration of our ability to get new ideas, use imagination and make new decisions to make the world a better place and to make your place in the world better too. Do what you can, do what you like. There’s only one rule: do no harm.

Since 2002, people in businesses, homes, organizations, schools and communities (106 at last count) in over 46 countries spend the week beginning April 15th (Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday), ending on April 21st to enliven, encourage, enjoy and express their creative spirit.

Imagine the world united through its creativity. Where everyone takes a moment, a day, or the week to generate new ideas to create a brighter future wherever they are.

Here are some examples of ways that people have celebrated, and here are the origins of WCIW.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Miles Davis' Lessons in Innovation

Harvard Business School's Working Knowledge, a publication that previews cutting-edge faculty research, has just published Kind of Blue: Pushing Boundaries with Miles Davis. In this interview, Rob Austin and Carl Størmer discuss the radical innovation inherent in Miles Davis' seminal record, the underlying principles that enabled him to achieve it, and the lessons that today's managers can draw.

Most significant is the language Austin and Størmer use to describe Miles Davis. He was obviously an extraordinarily gifted musician, but they place greater emphasis on his skills as a manager, leader, and collaborator. They describe, for example, Davis' ability to manage the creative process, his efforts to create an top-notch ensemble and establish a productive team dynamic, and his techniques for jolting musicians out of their habitual thinking patterns and into fresh, new terrain. Any manager or business leader will instantly grasp the relevance of these ideas to his or her own situation.

Moreover, fans of Edward de Bono will recognize many of the Six Hats and Lateral Thinking concepts at work. Austin and Størmer don't use the de Bono language, nor do they suggest any connection between Davis and Dr. de Bono. However, it's striking that in his own attempts to create a new musical landscape, Miles Davis intuitively seemed to grasp many of the same principles that Dr. de Bono later explicated.

In short, it's a fascinating interview. Do read it.

Edward de Bono's weekly message: de Bono Society

I have been asked to set up a society for motivated thinkers. This is at Further details are available at this site. There will be occasional podcasts, tasks, suggestions, instructions, team building etc. There are people who are genuinely interested in thinking. They are not only interested in proving they are right or in showing off but also in developing further skills in thinking.

In the end thinking is the only means we have for delivering human values. Yet no bookshop has a section devoted to thinking. No university has a faculty of thinking. Only a few schools have a subject called 'thinking'. That is because we have been so satisfied with limited traditional thinking.

Edward de Bono

10th April 2009

The Revolution of Creativity - Lateral Thinking Immersion Class

Executives, entrepreneurs, educators, consultants, and others will gather in Boston, June 21-24, for the Creative Problem Solving Institute's annual conference The Revolution of Creativity.

Participants will choose from keynote presentations, 90-minute breakouts, and elective classes focusing on innovation and creativity.

When registering, sign up for the Lateral Thinking for Innovative Leaders Immersion Class. This interactive class, developed by Dr. Edward de Bono, provides a disciplined approach to innovation, idea generation, and concept development.

Register for the Revolution of Creativity

Bring Lateral Thinking Training to Your Organization

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Public Innovator's Playbook

And speaking of innovation as a solution to the economic crisis, Deloitte Research and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government have published The Public Innovator's Playbook, which draws the connection between innovation and public policy. More importantly, authors William Eggers and Shalabh Kumar Singh lay out specific ways in which governments can become more innovative and generate better solutions to today's problems. As they say in the foreword, "The goal of this book is to... help governments become serial innovators."

Here is the press release, which describes the book in more detail. The entire book is available for download from Deloitte or in hard copy via Amazon.

Edward de Bono in Lebanon

Edward de Bono was in Beirut earlier this week, discussing the role of creativity in the economic downturn. Dr. de Bono described his thinking methodology in general, as well specific applications to the economy and to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Lebanese Daily Star covers his visit here.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Edward de Bono's weekly message: Positive Gangs

There is a real need to design a framework for 'positive gangs'. Youngsters joining such gangs would get the same significance and achievement satisfaction of the usual negative gangs (crime etc). The effect on society would, however, be positive rather than negative.

I would therefore welcome a list of practical suggestions as to what such positive gangs could do. How could members of the gang get a real sense of achievement while their actions benefitted society?

Edward de Bono
15th February 2009

Creativity conference in Brussels

As part of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009, there is currently an exposition in Brussels entitled Creativity and Innovation: Best practices from European Union programs. The conference showcases dozens of the EU's most successful endeavors in areas such as:
  • Education and training
  • Culture and arts
  • Youth
  • Citizenship
The conference brochure contains a detailed description of each program.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Interview with Edward de Bono

The Times of Malta has a lengthy interview with Edward de Bono in which he suggests some novel solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, illegal immigration, and the worldwide economic crisis. The piece is really quite good.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Microsoft Research TechFest

Right now, Microsoft is holding TechFest 2009, an annual event aimed at sharing its researchers' work with product teams throughout the rest of the organization. The Imperial Valley News interviews Craig Mundie, Microsoft Chief Research and Strategy Officer, about the event.

Mundie talks about some specific innovations - from robotics to health care - and also discusses the importance of continuing to invest in R&D and innovation despite the recession. It's a good interview; do check it out.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ph.D. in Innovation

The University of Wales has just launched a new innovation initiative: the Prince of Wales Innovation Scholarship program. The idea is to recruit 100 of the world's top students to a Ph.D. program, in which the students will be posted to research positions in Welsh companies. The scholars receive funding, research experience, and a Ph.D., while the partnering companies gain new ideas, processes, and technologies. And as a nation, Wales expects to develop and disseminate a culture of innovation, as well as the economic benefits stemming from the research.

In this turbulent economic climate, companies and countries are always tempted to cut their R&D budgets. It's refreshing to see Wales take a high-profile stance on the importance of innovation.

Innovation in Financial Regulation

Not surprisingly, the financial crisis and global economic turmoil were the main thrust of the recent World Economic Forum in Davos. The New York Times reports that one of the more original ideas to come out of the conference is the possibility of compensating regulators with bonuses, just like the bankers they oversee.

The underlying logic makes sense. Wall Street uses fat paychecks to attract the best and brightest, so the SEC needs to do the same. And compensating regulators with bonuses would give them an incentive to discover the next Enron or Bernie Madoff in advance, preventing the crisis before it spirals out of control.

It's an intriguing idea, and all the more striking because federal regulatory agencies are not widely regarded as a hotbed of innovation. We'll see whether it goes anywhere.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Obama's Secretary of Innovation

BusinessWeek is calling for President Obama to create a Cabinet-level position for innovation and creativity. The Secretary of Innovation would "lead a systematic national innovation process" aimed at ameliorating the economic crisis. The Secretary's other function would be "to create a national innovation mindset, reinvigorating innovation in the private sector."

We nominate Edward de Bono. After all, he is already the EU Ambassador for Thinking. Why not a US Cabinet position, as well?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Edward de Bono's weekly message

Education is all about knowledge and analysis. There is a complete lack of 'operacy' and design. Operacy covers the skill of doing and making things happen. Design is putting together what you have to deliver the values you want.

Our traditional thinking strongly influenced by Church needs, is concerned with finding the truth. That is ebne (excellent but not enough). We have never emphasised the thinking that is needed to create value.

Education at all levels from primary school to university should have significant elements of operacy and of design. Having a wonderful road map is ebne. You also need to know how to drive and how to choose your destination.

Edward de Bono
10th February 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

ASTD Economic Survival Guide

Across the country, companies are tightening their belts, and corporate training is invariably one of the first targets for budget-cutting. The ASTD Economic Survival Guide offers a number of suggestions for adapting to the recession.

Some of the ideas include:
  • Communicating throughout your organization to create a learning culture
  • Reviewing your training budget and decide how to make do with less
  • Using technology to supplement your training
  • Making your trainers more versatile
  • Developing explicit links between your training department and corporate strategic/financial goals

The guide contains specific ways to achieve each of these suggestions. It is well worth reading.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

2009 TED prize

Congratulations to the winners of the 2009 TED Prize: Sylvia Earle (for her underwater research, exploration, and advocacy), Jill Tarter (director of the SETI project and a pioneer of distributive networking), and José Antonio Abreu (founder of El Sistema, a program for using classical music to improve the lives of Venezuelan children).

Their success demonstrates the importance of innovative thinking in all disciplines, from the natural environment to astrophysics to poverty and children's welfare.

Problems with Brainstorming

Two Dutch researchers have published an academic study on the problems with brainstorming (How the Group Affects the Mind: A Cognitive Model of Idea Generation in Groups by Bernard Nijstad and Wolfgang Stroebe). They write, “Most people believe that idea generation is best performed in groups… However, controlled research has consistently shown that people produce fewer ideas and ideas of lower quality when they work in a group as compared with when they work alone. Thus, contrary to popular belief, group interaction inhibits the ideation process.”

The biggest problem is “production blocking” – i.e., the tendency of group members to take turns in sharing new ideas. This causes great ideas to be lost while people wait on a parade of mediocre ideas before it’s their turn again. Production blocking is closely connected to group size; it is a bigger problem for large groups than small ones.

Nijstad and Strobe offer several concrete recommendations for improving brainstorming sessions:
  • Use electronic brainstorming (or brainwriting) instead of verbal brainstorming.
  • If verbal brainstorming is unavoidable, keep the groups small. Break up larger groups.
  • Encourage participants to pay attention to each other’s ideas.
  • Stay on track. Don’t allow side conversations or lengthy exposition of ideas.
  • Take frequent, short breaks.
Finally, note that the Lateral Thinking techniques offer concrete methods for idea generation and are far superior to traditional brainstorming. For example, a Lateral Thinking ideation session begins with independent, individual ideation – exactly the sort of methodology that eliminates production blocking.

New editions of Spanish de Bono books

The Spanish publisher Paidós is launching the Edward de Bono Library, a series of new editions of Dr. de Bono's classic works. Thus far, the collection includes translations of Six Thinking Hats, The Use of Lateral Thinking, and Creativity Workout. The books are available directly from Paidós and also from Amazon.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Edward de Bono's weekly message

There is a real need for new words in language. The word 'Po' signals that a deliberate provocation is to follow and that this provocation needs to be used for its 'movement' value not its 'judgement' value. Such a word could not evolve in language until the logic of provocation in a self-organising system had been pointed out. There is also a need for the new word 'ebne' (excellent but not enough). Without such a word it is difficult to ask for a change without attacking what is. There are some other new words that I have in mind. Adjectives are always easier which is why 'lateral thinking' has easily become part of everyday language. We also need a new word for 'idea creativity' as mentioned in a previous message in order to distinguish this creativity from artistic creativity. The term 'new thinking' can help but is quite weak.

My new code which is being published on the web as provides a needed way of describing complex situations but there is also a need for an ordinary language term.

Edward de Bono
25 January 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009

New de Bono training sessions

De Bono Consulting has added several new dates to its training schedule:
  • March 9-13 in San Diego, CA
  • May 4-8 in Alexandria, VA

Attendees can enroll in the Six Thinkings Hats session, the Lateral Thinking session, or the Course in Creativity, which covers both methods.

In addition, we have a session in Mexico City on February 23-27. Note that this session will be conducted in Spanish.

See our complete training schedule to register for a course or to view other dates and locations.

Innovation Lessons from the 1930s

In a nod to the current economic climate, Tom Nicholas of Harvard Business School has published a nice piece in the McKinsey Quarterly about innovation during the Great Depression and its implications for innovation today. (Unfortunately, registration is required for access to the full article, but it's free.)

Nicholas examines the number of US patent filings between 1921 and 1938 as a measure of investment in R&D (and hence innovation in general). The trend is pretty obvious: when GDP growth was positive, the number of patents increased. When the economy contracted, patent applications declined. Business leaders were clearly letting their economic concerns drive their R&D decisions.

But Nicholas also provides examples of companies that continued to support innovation despite the turbulent climate. Firms such as DuPont, Hewlett-Packard, Polaroid, and RCA developed extraordinarily successful products during this period. In the process, they became some of the most successful and admired companies of the 20th century. Had they slashed their R&D budgets, they might today be relegated to the footnotes of history.

The point is not that every company should always and everywhere maintain its R&D budget. The point, rather, is that slashing investment should not be a knee-jerk reaction to today's economic woes. In many cases, the sensible manager may decide to postpone innovative projects in the face of uncertainty. However, it's important to evaluate the company's competitive situation before making a decision. Just as we saw during the Great Depression, innovation today may create the giants of tomorrow.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Edward de Bono's weekly message

I was in Prague on January 7th for the launch of the European Year of Creativity, 2009. The Czech Republic has the presidency of the EU for the first half of 2009.

As usual one of the big problems facing creativity in the inability of language to distinguish between artistic creativity and idea creativity. Both involve creating something new which has value. The practical problem is that the Year of Creativity may tend to focus on artistic creativity because it is better known. That is unfortunate because the world needs creative thinking more than ever before. Many problems facing the world are not easily solved with our existing thinking. I am very much in favour of artistic creativity but we do need idea creativity.

It may be that people still believe that nothing can be done about creative thinking and that we just have to wait and hope for new ideas. That attitude is very old fashioned but still prevalent. Many people just do not know that there are formal and deliberate ways of creating new ideas - such as the tools of lateral thinking.

I encourage anyone reading this message to write to your government and the European Union to emphasise the need and possibility of creative thinking.

It is indeed a move in the right direction that the EU has appointed me 'Ambassador for Thinking' for the year of creativity.

Edward de Bono
15 January 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Toyota - Why Not?

Toyota has launched a new innovation contest called Why Not?. Via a charming little website - complete with pretty graphics, a slick, 3-D interface, and the soothing music of waterfalls and birdsong - the carmaker is inviting people to suggest ways to improve our air, land, water, and communities.

Naturally, the submitted ideas vary in their complexity and ingenuity. Some are simple but obvious in hindsight - in the sense of "Wow, why have I never thought of that?" Other ideas are far more complicated and would demand completely new technologies. Users can vote on the various ideas, share them with friends, and even make a personal commitment to a particular idea.

For its part, Toyota is using the site to promote its own environmental innovations and to gather (and perhaps commercialize) new ideas. There's also a contest element; the prizes for the best ideas include a tour of a Toyota manufacturing plant and a trip to New York to meet with influential innovators.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

MIT's Innovations in Teaching Methods

The New York Times has a great piece about some revolutionary work at MIT.

And no, I'm not talking about nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, or quantum mechanics. I'm talking about teaching.

The university has introduced a new approach to its traditional Physics 101. Once upon a time, the course was a stereotypical large lecture, complete with the professor droning on and scribbling equations on the blackboard, while students fell asleep or unobtrusively SMSed their friends.

Today, the course features small classes, peer interaction, and collaborative, interactive learning. And technology, of course - this is, after all, MIT.

"Instead of blackboards, the walls are covered with white boards and huge display screens. Circulating with a team of teaching assistants, the professor makes brief presentations of general principles and engages the students as they work out related concepts in small groups. Teachers and students conduct experiments together. The room buzzes. Conferring with tablemates, calling out questions and jumping up to write formulas on the white boards are all encouraged."

Moreover, the school employs technology to provide the professor with instantaneous feedback. This allows the professor to gauge the level of student comprehension at any point in time - making it clear when students are struggling, and when to move ahead with the material.

The program was initially controversial, but the results speak for themselves. Course attendance is up, and the failure rate has fallen from 10-12% to 4%.

It's easy to think of "innovation" purely in terms of new products or technologies. However, it's equally relevant - and arguably more valuable - in areas like education, which stereotypically isn't at the forefront of creativity and therefore has more to gain from innovative methodologies and approaches.

Do check out the full article - it's well worth a read.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Ambassador for Thinking

The EU has named 2009 the European Year of Creativity and Innovation. Its goals are:
  • to raise awareness of importance of creativity and innovation for personal, social and economic development
  • to disseminate good practices, stimulate education and research
  • to promote policy debate and development
As part of this project, the EU named Edward de Bono to the post of Ambassador for Thinking. As he writes:

The European Union has declared 2009 to be the year of Creativity. This will be launched in Prague on January 7th. I shall be there. On December 5th. I was officially appointed 'Ambassador for Thinking' for the European Union. Among other things I shall be issuing a monthly 'World Thinking Report'. There may be occasional extra reports as required. In due course these may be accessed on the web under World Thinking Report.

Edward de Bono
22nd December 2008