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Serious Creativity


By Edward de Bono (includes links to many of his other books)

Related: Opportunities

Amazon link: Serious Creativity: Using the power of Lateral Thinking to create new Ideas

The de Bono Group




Creativity is becoming increasingly important for all businesses as competition intensifies because to act creatively is the best and cheapest way to get added value out of existing resources and assets.

In this book, the author brings up-to-date the core concept of his book “Lateral Thinking”.

Detailed contents list at the bottom




Summary contents list


  • Introduction

  • The Need for Creative Thinking

    • Take-Away Value

    • The Theoretical Need for Creativity

    • The Practical Need for Creativity

    • Information and Creativity

    • Misperceptions About Creativity

    • Sources of Creativity

    • Lateral Thinking

    • Perception and Processing

    • Design and Analysis

    • The Uses of Creative Thinking

  • Lateral Thinking Tools And Techniques

    • The Six Thinking Hats

    • The Creative Pause

    • Focus

    • Challenge

    • Alternatives

    • The Concept Fan

    • Concepts

    • Provocation

    • Movement

    • Setting Up Provocations

    • The Random Input

    • Sensitizing Techniques

    • Application of the Lateral Thinking Techniques

    • Harvesting

    • The Treatment of Ideas

    • Formal Output

    • Group or Individual

  • The Application of Creative Thinking

    • Application

    • Everyday Creativity/Specific

    • Creativity

    • The Creative Hit List

    • Introduction of Creativity

    • Responsibility

    • Structures and Programs

    • Training

    • Formats

    • Evaluation

  • Summary

  • Appendixes

    • The Lateral Thinking Techniques

    • Notes on the Use of the Lateral Thinking Techniques

    • Harvesting Checklist

    • Treatment of Ideas Checklist





If were to sit down and say to myself, "I need a new idea here [insert actual need area]," what should I do?

I could do research and try to work out a new idea logically.

I could borrow or steal an idea used by someone else.

I could sit and twiddle my thumbs and hope for inspiration.

I could ask a creative person to produce an idea for me.

I could hastily convene a brainstorming group.

Or I could quietly and systematically apply a deliberate technique of lateral thinking (such as the random word technique), and in 10 to 20 seconds I should have some new ideas.


It is now 25 years since I started working in the field of creative thinking.

It is now time to tidy up and to bring things up to date.

It is time to clarify and restate various techniques that have been borrowed and weakened in the process.

It is time to apply the huge wealth of experience that has accumulated in that time, during which I have taught creative thinking in many countries and across different cultures to business, education, government, and other parts of society.


What has happened over these last 25 years in this important field?

In some ways a lot has happened and in other ways very little.


In 1969 I wrote a book with the title The Mechanism of Mind, in which I described how the nerve networks in the human brain might act as a self-organizing information system.

At that time those ideas were somewhat strange.

Today such ideas are mainstream thinking about the brain and a whole academic discipline has grown up to consider the behavior of self-organizing systems.

One of my more recent books (I Am Right You Are Wrong) has introductions by three Nobel prize physicists. Neural network computers are based on the same principles.

So science has caught up with what was a conceptual model.


A few people, a very few people, now know that there is an absolute mathematical necessity for human creativity because of the way human perception works as a self-organizing information system.

Such systems demand creativity and also provocation.


There is now a great deal more interest in creative thinking than there was 25 years ago.

Almost every major business advertises itself as "the creative corporation."

There is a huge amount of lip service given to the central importance of creativity, but my experience has shown that this lip-service is not accompanied by any serious effort to use creativity.


Over the last ten years business has been involved in three major games.

There was the restructuring game, which included acquisitions, mergers, leveraged buy-outs (LBOs), de-mergers, and so on.

Growth and profitability was going to come from buying growth.

Bankers prospered, as did a few of the new structures.


Then there was cost-cutting, a game that is still running.

If you could cut costs, then your balance sheet looked much better.

Cutting costs is something into which you can get your teeth.

You can see targets and measure achievement.

Profits improve.

But there comes a time when all the fat is gone and further cuts remove the muscle.


The latest game has been quality (and customer service).

This is a highly commendable game that should have a great need for creative thinking.


But what happens when you have a lean and competent organization?

What is this lean and competent organization going to do?

What happens when your competitors are just as lean and competent as you and your cost-effectiveness is no longer a unique advantage?

The more able senior executives know that creativity is now the main hope.

Even the economies of Japan and Germany, which have rightly placed so much emphasis on quality and excellence, are now beginning to show great interest in creativity.


Sadly, very few governments around the world have yet come to realize that creative change is just as important to them as it is to business.

There is a huge need for better ways of doing things and for new concepts in government services.

The governments of Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, and Canada are waking up to this need.

Others still feel that cost-cutting is sufficient.

The public should expect more than cost-cutting.


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.

There is the assumption that creativity belongs in the "art" world and is a matter for talent, anyway.

This view is so old-fashioned as to be medieval.


The rest of society is not often called upon actually to make things happen and is satisfied with description and argument.


Nevertheless, there is a growing group of individuals in all areas who have come to realize that the future needs better thinking and that part of this better thinking is going to demand creativity.


There are some very good reasons why we have not yet paid serious enough attention to creativity.


The first and most powerful reason is that every valuable creative idea must always be logical in hindsight.

If an idea were not logical in hindsight then we would have no way of seeing the value of that idea and it would simply be a "crazy" idea.

If every valuable creative idea is indeed logical 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 worldwide still hold this view.

Sadly, this view is totally wrong.


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 system (self-organizing system) in which the asymmetry of patterns means that an idea may be logical and even obvious in hindsight but invisible to logic in the first place.

Unfortunately, this point can be visible only to those who are able to move from the paradigm of externally organized systems to the paradigm of self-organizing systems.

I shall come to this point later in the book.

Most people are unwilling or unable to make that paradigm change and so must, forever, believe in the sufficiency of logic.


Then there are those who believe in the importance and reality of creativity but hold that nothing can be done about it.

Such people believe that creativity is a matter of semi-mystical talent that some people have and others do not have.

Here there is a considerable confusion between artistic creativity (which is often not creative) and the ability to change concepts and perceptions.

There is a parallel belief that new ideas depend on a fortuitous combination of events and circumstance and that such confluences cannot be planned.

The general notion here is that ideas have always happened and will always continue to happen and there is nothing that can be done or need be done, about it.


The only thing to do is to find creative people and to encourage them.


There is a growing number of people who do believe that creative thinking skills can be improved through direct effort and attention.

Here we run into two difficulties.


Because inhibition—the fear of being wrong and the fear of making mistakes—prevents the risk-taking of creativity, there is the belief that removal of inhibitions is enough to make a person creative.

This has become a dominant theme, particularly in North America, and it has held back the development of serious creative thinking methods.

Efforts are made to free a person up so that natural creativity can assert itself.

This does bring about a mild level of creativity but not much.

The brain is not designed to be creative, so liberating the brain from inhibitions does not make it creative.

Releasing the brake on a car does not automatically make you a skilled driver.

I shall return to this point later.


We come now to the considerable damage done by the concept of "brainstorming."

This was a genuine and useful attempt to provide a more relaxed setting in which to generate ideas without immediate fear of rejection.

The intention was admirable and some of the underlying principles are sound.

Unfortunately, brainstorming has become synonymous with deliberate creative effort and has blocked the development of serious creative thinking skills.


Those who want to use deliberate creativity believe that the (weak) processes of brainstorming are enough.

Others who might be motivated to develop creative thinking skills are turned off by the "scatter-gun" approach of brainstorming.

The idea that from a ferment of consideration an idea might emerge which might be useful has a value in the advertising world (where brainstorming originated) but much less value where novelty is not, by itself, a sufficient value.


It is difficult to condemn brainstorming because it has some value and does sometimes produce results; but, in my experience, it is old-fashioned and inefficient.

We can do much better with deliberate systematic techniques.

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.


Instead of brainstorming, I might suggest the concept of "brain-sailing" to suggest a deliberate controlled process in which we change tack as we wish instead of being tossed about in a "storm."


Associated with brainstorming has been the notion that deliberate creative thinking has to be "crazy" or "off-the-wall" in order to be effective.

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.


It has to be said that much of the difficulty is caused by the poor quality of teaching of many who set up to teach creative thinking.

Because creative thinking does not seem to require either logic or experience, anyone can enter the field.

Techniques and processes are borrowed from here and there without a full understanding of their proper use.

The result is an instant "expert" on creative thinking.

Many clients are persuaded that this is the correct approach to creative thinking and many others are put off.

The general result is that creative thinking is devalued and not treated seriously.

It is regarded as something of a peripheral gimmick that might have an occasional success.


For all the sound reasons given here, creativity does not yet have the central place that it should occupy.

In summary, there are those who believe that logic is enough.

There are those who believe that creativity is a matter of talent or chance and that nothing deliberate can be done about it.

There are those who are put off by the "crazy" approaches to deliberate creativity that are available.


I have deliberately included the word "serious" in the title of this book in order to move forward from the "crazy" notions of creativity.

In this book I intend to put forward deliberate and systematic techniques that can be used in a formal manner by both individuals and groups.

These techniques are directly and logically based on the behavior of human perception as a self-organizing pattern-making system.

There is no mystique at all about them.

It was precisely to get away from the vague and mystical notion of creativity that I invented the term "lateral thinking" 25 years ago.

Lateral thinking is specifically concerned with changing concepts and perceptions.


There are those who will be horrified by the notion of "serious" creativity and will see it almost as a contradiction in terms.

To such people creativity means being free to mess around in the hope that somehow a new idea will emerge.

It is true that in order to be creative we must be free of constraints, free of tradition, and free of history.

But that freedom is more effectively obtained by using certain deliberate techniques than just by hoping to be free.

A solid file is a better way of getting out of prison than exhortations to be free.


There are those who believe that systematic and deliberate tools cannot lead to creativity because any structures will immediately limit freedom.

This is nonsense.

There are indeed restricting structures such as railway lines and locked rooms.

But many structures are liberating.

A ladder is a liberating structure that allows you to get to places you would not otherwise have reached.

Yet you are free to choose where to go with your ladder.

A cup or glass is a liberating structure that allows us to drink much more conveniently.

But the cup does not force our choice of drink.

Mathematical notation is a liberating structure that allows us to do many things we would never be able to do otherwise.

So there is nothing contradictory about systematic techniques that free us to develop new concepts and perceptions.


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: mathematics, logical analysis, computer simulation, and so on.

There need be no mystique about it.

A person sitting down with the deliberate intention of generating an idea in a certain area and then proceeding to use a lateral thinking technique systematically should represent a normal state of affairs.


In the book I shall be covering the three broad approaches to lateral thinking:




In each area there are methods and techniques that can be learned, practiced, and applied.

The story of Peter Ueberroth and the Los Angeles Olympic Games illustrates how these techniques can be learned and applied.

Peter Ueberroth had first learned about lateral thinking when he was my faculty host when I gave a 90-minute talk to the Young Presidents' Organization in Boca Raton, Florida, in 1975.

Nine years later, according to his interview in the Washington Post; he used lateral thinking to generate the new concepts that made such a success of the Los Angeles Olympic Games.


I want to make it clear that while this book may become a reference book on creative thinking, it has not been my purpose to lay out the principles of "teaching" creative thinking.

That is not something that can be properly done in a book as it requires interactive experience and guidance.

I shall, however, be setting up formal training sessions for those who do want to learn how to teach creative thinking.*

This book is a user's book to help those who want to use creative thinking themselves.


This book is written for three categories of reader.

Those who sense that creativity is going to become more and more important and want to know what can be done about it

Those who have always considered themselves to be creative and want to enhance their creative skill

Those who see no necessity at all for creativity

I am aware that those in the third category are somewhat unlikely to buy the book in the first place.

So their only hope of getting a better understanding of creative thinking is if someone makes them a present of the book in order to indicate what creative thinking is about and why it is important.


At this point I would like to distinguish between two types of creative output.

We usually suppose that creative thinking will turn up a new idea that represents some sort of risk.

Because the idea is new we are not sure if it will work.

There may have to be an investment of time, money, energy, and hassle before the idea pays off.

Many people and most organizations are somewhat reluctant to make this investment in time, money, energy, and hassle, even though they know that such investments are essential in the long run.

But this is only one type of creative output.

There is also a completely different types of idea.


The other type of creative output is an idea that immediately makes sense.

You can see at once that the new idea is going to work and is going to save money or time or offer some other benefit.

Let me illustrate this with a very simple example.


Add up the numbers from 1 to 10.

The task is not difficult and you should get the answer 55.

Now add up the numbers from 1 to 100.

Again the task is not difficult, but it is very tedious and you might well make mistakes.

Now imagine the numbers from 1 to 100 written down in a row as suggested below:

1 2 3 … 98 99 100

Now repeat the numbers from 1 to 100 but write them backwards under the first set of numbers as shown:

1 2 3 98 99 100

100 99 98 3 2 1

If you add up each pair, you will always get 101.

This must be so because as you go along the top number increases by 1 and the bottom number decreases by 1 so the total must stay the same.

So the total is 100 x 101.

This is, of course, twice the total we needed because we have used two sets of numbers from 1 to 100.

So we divide by 2 and get 50 x 101, or 5050.

This method is not only very quick but there is little chance of making an error.

In short, it is a much faster and much better way of adding the numbers 1 to 100.


In hindsight the method is perfectly logical.

In practice very few people work out this method for themselves.


Another approach might be to "fold" the numbers over on themselves to give:

50 49 48 … 3 2 1

51 52 53 98 99 100

This gives 50 x 101, or 5050.

I am making no claims for creativity here because this sort of approach might be obtained by creative thinking or by visualization.

The point I am making is that the new approach is immediately seen to be valuable.

There is no risk involved.


There are times when creative thinking can produce this type of output: an idea that immediately makes sense.

That it is logical in hindsight does not mean that it could have been reached by logic in foresight (as I have mentioned and as we shall again see later).


This is an important point because one of the main purposes for the use of creative thinking is to find better ways of doing things.

It would be quite wrong to assume that creative thinking means only risk.

Creativity also means insight and new perceptions that at once make sense.


The book is divided into three parts:

Part I: The need for creativity

Part II: Techniques and methods

Part III: Application of creative thinking

There is nothing more marvelous than thinking of a new idea.

There is nothing more magnificent than seeing a new idea working.

There is nothing more useful than a new idea that serves your purpose.

See Serious Creativity




  • Serious Creativity
    • Contents
    • Introduction
      • I need a new idea here
      • Time to tidy up and to bring things up to date
      • Over the last ten years business has been involved in three major games
        • There was the restructuring game
        • Then there was cost-cutting
        • The latest game has been quality (and customer service)
      • But what happens when you have a lean and competent organization?
      • What is this lean and competent organization going to do?
      • What happens when your competitors are just as lean and competent
      • The more able senior executives know that creativity is now the main hope
      • Even the economies of Japan and Germany
      • Very few governments around the world have yet come to realize that creative change …
      • Education does very little indeed about teaching creative thinking
      • The rest of society is not often called upon actually to make things happen
      • The future needs better thinking
      • Reasons why we have not yet paid serious enough attention to creativity
        • Every valuable creative idea must always be logical in hindsight
        • Nothing can be done about it
        • The considerable damage done by the concept of “brainstorming”
      • Creativity does not yet have the central place that it should occupy
      • There are those
        • Who believe that logic is enough
        • Who believe that creativity is a matter of talent or chance and that nothing deliberate can be done
        • Who are put off by the “crazy” approaches to deliberate creativity that are available
          • I have deliberately included the word “serious” in the title
          • In this book I intend to put forward deliberate and systematic techniques
        • Who will be horrified by the notion of “serious” creativity and will see it almost as a contradictio
        • Who believe that systematic and deliberate tools cannot lead to creativity
          • There are indeed restricting structures
          • But many structures are liberating
      • Creative thinking (lateral thinking) as a special type of information handling
      • Deliberate intention of generating an idea in a certain area and then proceeding to
      • I shall be covering the three broad approaches to lateral thinking
      • Two types of creative output
        • Creative thinking will turn up a new idea that represents some sort of risk
        • An idea that immediately makes sense-1
      • The book is divided into three parts
    • Part 1 The Need for Creative Thinking
      • Take-Away Value
        • What sort of benefits do I hope readers might derive from reading this book?
        • Understanding the Nature and Logic of Creativity
          • Creativity is a messy and confusing subject
            • At the simplest level “creative” means bringing into being something that was not there before
            • Then we ascribe some value to the result, so. the “new” thing must have a value
              • There has to be something unique or rare about it
            • When we start to introduce concepts of “unexpectedness” and “change,” we begin to get a different view of creativity
          • I believe that the crude word “creativity” covers a wide range of different skills
          • In this book I do not set out to talk about artistic creativity
          • I am very specifically concerned with the creative skills needed to change concepts and perceptions
          • My preference is to look directly at the behavior of self-organizing information systems
            • These systems are patterning systems
            • They make and use patterns
            • From an analysis of the behavior and potential behavior in such systems we can get a very clear idea of the nature of creativity
            • All at once the mystique of creativity falls away
            • We can see how creativity works
          • Many years ago I gave a talk to 1200 Ph.D.s working for the 3M company in Minneapolis
          • Understanding the logic of creativity does not itself make you more creative
          • But it does make you aware of the necessity for creativity
          • Some people claim not to be interested in the logic of creativity and are impatient to get on with the practical techniques
            • This is a mistake, because you will not use the tools effectively unless you know what lies behind the design of the tool
        • Focus and Intention
          • It is the willingness of a person to pause and to focus on some point and then to set out to do some lateral thinking
            • At this moment no specific techniques might be involved
            • What is required is the investment of time, effort, and focus
            • There is the will to find a new idea
          • John Bertrand told me how he and his crew had focused on point after point and set out to find new i
          • Red Telephone Company.
          • Even when no specific lateral thinking techniques are used, there is a high value in simply pausing at a point
        • Tools and Techniques
          • The reader will be equipped with some specific tools to generate new ideas
          • I want to emphasize yet again that the tools are deliberate and can be used systematically
          • So these tools are not just crutches for those who cannot get going but useful techniques even for those who are highly creative
          • It is only fair to add that it does require some discipline and some effort to use the tools when your head is already full of possible ideas
          • Many of the practitioners in the field deal with creativity from an inspirational point of view
          • Clarify the tools so that the essential power of the tool is made clear and the assorted paraphernal
        • The third part of the book deals with the application of creative thinking and considers structures
      • The Theoretical Need for Creativity
        • Humor is by far the most significant behavior of the human brain
        • Model for Creativity
        • The Time Sequence Trap
      • The Practical Need for Creativity
        • Cost-Cutting and Quality Programs
        • Maintenance Management
        • Competition And Sur/Petition
        • Other Areas
      • Information and Creativity
        • Explanation
        • Market Analysis
        • The Future
        • Concept Drivers
        • Ingredients
        • Collecting Information
      • Misperceptions About Creativity
        • 1. Creativity Is A Natural Talent And Cannot Be Taught
        • 2. Creativity Comes From the Rebels
        • 3. Right Brain/Left Brain
        • 4. Art, Artists, and Creativity
        • 5. Release
        • 6. Intuition
        • 7. The Need for “Craziness”
        • 8. Scatter-Gun Success
        • 9. Big Jump and Small Jump Creativity
        • 10. Group or Individual
        • 11. Intelligence and Creativity
      • Sources of Creativity
        • Innocence
        • Experience
        • Motivation
        • Tuned Judgment
        • Chance, Accident, Mistake, And Madness
        • Style
        • Release
      • Lateral Thinking
        • Lateral Thinking and Creativity
        • Terminology
      • Perception and Processing
        • Limits of Perception
        • Water Logic
        • The Logic of Perception
      • Design and Analysis
        • Modes of Design
      • The Uses of Creative Thinking
        • Improvement
        • Problem Solving
        • Value and Opportunity
        • The Future
        • Motivation
    • Part 2 Lateral Thinking Tools and Techniques
      • The Six Thinking Hats
        • White Hat
        • Red Hat
        • Black Hat
        • Yellow Hat
        • Green Hat
        • Blue Hat
        • Instead of Argument
        • Ego and Performance
        • Persistent Negativity
        • Space For Positive And Creative Thinking
        • Game
        • Not Categories
        • Occasional Use
        • Systematic Use
      • The Creative Pause
        • Creative Effort
        • The Pause
        • Motivation
        • Use of the Creative Pause
        • Proactive
      • Focus
        • Simple Focus
        • Specific Focus
          • Everyday creativity
          • Specific focus
          • General-area-type focus
          • Purpose Focus
            • Improvement
            • Problem Solving
            • Task
            • Opportunity
        • Focus Occasions
          • Defined need or purpose
          • Routine review
          • Idea-sensitive point
          • Whim
        • Multiple Focuses
        • Alternative Definitions
        • Rephrasing the Focus
        • The Underlying Problem
        • How Much Information?
      • Challenge
        • The Next Step
        • Why and Why Again
        • Continuity Analysis
          • The Continuity of Neglect
          • The Continuity of Lock-In
          • The Continuity of Complacency
          • The Continuity of Time Sequence
        • Breaking Free
          • Technology Change
          • Value Change
          • Circumstance Change
          • Cost Change
        • Concept Challenge and Idea Challenge
        • Challenging the Shaping Factors
          • Dominating Concept
          • Assumptions
          • Boundaries
          • Essential Factors
          • Avoidance Factors
          • Either/Or Polarizations
      • Alternatives
        • Stopping to Look for Alternatives
        • The Alternatives Are Provided
        • Finding More Alternatives
        • Finding and Creating Alternatives
        • The Fixed Point
          • Purpose
          • Groups
          • Resemblance
          • Concepts
      • The Concept Fan
        • Making a Concept Fan
        • Provocative Alternatives
        • Evaluation
          • In general, evaluation is along four lines
            • Feasible
            • Benefits
            • Resources
            • Fit
            • This very abbreviated checklist can be applied as a preliminary evaluation to any alternatives
      • Concepts
        • Alternatives
        • Strengthen
        • Change
        • From Idea to Concept
        • The Nature of Concepts
        • Types of Concepts
          • Purpose Concepts
          • Mechanism Concepts
          • Value Concepts
        • Working With Concepts
      • Provocation
        • Provocation and Hypothesis
        • Two-Stage Process
      • Movement
        • The Use of “Movement”
          • General Attitude
          • Systematic Techniques
        • Techniques of Movement
          • Extract a Principle
          • Focus on the Difference
          • Moment to Moment
          • Positive Aspects
          • Circumstances
        • Possible Results of Movement
          • Negatives
          • Old Ideas
          • Interesting Point
          • Difference
          • Value
          • Reaching a Concept
          • Reaching an Idea
          • Nowhere
        • Confidence
      • Setting Up Provocations
        • Sources of Provocations
        • The Escape Method
        • The Stepping-Stone Method
          • Reversal
          • Exaggeration
          • Distortion
          • Wishful Thinking
      • The Random Input
        • Stagnation
        • Blank Sheet (Greenfield)
        • Additional Ideas
        • Blocked
          • Pitfalls to avoid
            • Linking the random input to an idea that you have already
            • Use the word as given and do not rearrange the letters or take part of the word to give another word
            • Do not take too many steps
            • Do not list all the characteristics of the random word
            • Do not decide that the present word is unusable and immediately seek another one
          • All the above points are important in order to preserve the “provocative” effect of the method
          • It is not a matter of finding a way of connecting the random word to existing ideas
          • but of provoking new ideas
        • There is an interesting phenomenon that sometimes occurs with the random word technique
          • At first people are skeptical as to how such a simple method can possibly work
          • Then when these people see that the method does work, they become greedy
          • There is no way of finding the “best” random word because it would then no longer be random
          • Use the random input technique and then move on to other techniques
          • If you use too many random inputs you run the risk of not trying hard enough with any one of them
          • It needs to be said that the random input technique does not apply only to random words
          • The willingness to look for unconnected inputs and to use these to open up new lines of thinking
      • Sensitizing Techniques
        • Stratals
          • A Stratal on Car Insurance
          • A Stratal on “Recruitment” of Senior Staff
          • A Stratal on ‘Beer’
          • Using the stratals is a reflective process
          • Putting together stratals requires practice
        • The Filament Technique
          • Shoes Fastening System
          • Banking Premises
          • So the filament technique can be used in two ways
        • We have now come to the end of the specific lateral thinking techniques
        • But there is still a great deal to be done in order to complete the creative process
      • Application of the Lateral Thinking Techniques
        • General Use Of The Techniques
        • Specific Use Of The Techniques
          • Focus
          • Challenge
          • Alternatives
          • Random Input
          • Stratal
          • The Filament Technique
        • Basic Types of Thinking
          • Achievement Thinking (Reach)
            • Challenge
            • Concept Fan
            • Stepping-Stone
          • Improvement Thinking (Change)
            • Challenge
            • Alternatives
            • Escape
          • Greenfield Thinking (Start)
            • Random Input
            • The Filament Technique
            • Wishful Thinking
          • Organizing Thinking (Arrange)
            • Alternatives
            • Challenge
            • Distortion
        • Specific Situations
          • Improvement
          • Problems
          • Tasks
          • Opportunity
          • Invention
          • Design
          • Stagnant Situations
          • Greenfield Situations
          • Projects
          • Conflict
          • Futures
          • Strategy
          • Planning
            • Focus
            • Challenge
            • Alternatives
            • Concept Fan
            • Concepts
            • Escape Provocation
            • Stepping-Stone Provocation
            • Random Input
            • Stratal
            • The Filament Technique
        • The Six Thinking Hats
      • Harvesting
        • Specific Ideas
        • “For-Instance” Ideas
        • Seedling Ideas
        • Direct Concepts
        • “Pull-Back Y” Concepts
        • Directions
        • Needs
        • New Focuses
        • Changes
        • Flavor
        • Very much easier than having to generate it all over again
        • New ideas and concepts may emerge even—as the existing ones are being noted
      • The Treatment of Ideas
        • Quick Rejection of Ideas
        • Shaping Ideas
        • Tailoring Ideas
        • Strengthening Ideas
        • Reinforcing Ideas
        • Take-Up of Ideas
        • Comparison
        • Faults and Defects
        • Consequences
        • Testability
        • Evaluation
      • Formal Output
        • The difference between restricting structures and liberating structures
        • Without structure and discipline there is a general flailing about which may occasionally have a useful output
        • The effectiveness of the process can be enhanced by structure and discipline
        • Discipline is characterized by the following aspects
          • Time
          • Focus
          • Technique
          • Output
        • Output
          • Focus and type of focus needs to be stated
          • Set down the concept in a formal way
          • Lay down the idea or ideas in a formal way
          • It is useful to use the starting phrases
          • There is no need at all to be brief and succinct in the spelling out of concepts and ideas
          • Here we see that a suggestion of value is added to the idea
          • Extra work put into writing down the creative output is well worth the effort
          • Should all ideas and concepts that arise in a creative thinking session be treated in this way?
          • Here we need to distinguish between the private output of a session and the public output
          • Forces the creative thinker to be more definite in his or her own mind about the ideas and concepts
      • Group or Individual
        • Combinations
          • Interrupted Session
          • Sandwich Method
    • Part 3 The Application of Creative Thinking
      • Application
      • Everyday Creativity / Specific Creativity
        • Everyday Creativity
          • Creative Pause
          • Challenge
          • Green Hat
          • Simple Focus
          • Alternatives
          • Provocation
          • Listening
          • Sensitization
          • Training
          • Programs and Structures
        • Specific Creativity
          • Defining the Focus
          • Structure for Creative Thinking
          • Evaluation and Implementation
      • The Creative Hit List
        • Consider two alternative approaches
        • Compiling the Creative His List
        • Items on the Creative His List
          • Problem
          • Improvement Task
          • Project
          • Whim and Opportunity
          • The following example of a Creative Hit List shows the range of items
            • Problems
            • Improvement Tasks
            • Projects
            • Whim/Opportunity
        • Use of the Creative Hit List
        • Creative Hit List and General Problem Solving
        • Value of the Creative Hit List
        • Dangers
      • Introduction of Creativity
        • Sensitization
        • Six Thinking Hats
        • Nominated Champion/Process Champion
        • Structures and Programs
      • Responsibility
        • The Process Champion
        • The Concept Manager
        • Creativity Center
        • Network
        • Human Resource Department
        • Trainers
      • Structures and Programs
        • Suggestion Schemes
        • Quality Circles
        • Quality, Continuous Improvement, And Cost-Cutting
        • Creativity Center
        • Concept R&D
        • Creative Hit List
        • Cloud “9” File
          • Novel Ideas
          • Original Ideas
          • Constructive Comments
          • New Creative Focuses
          • There are several values to the Cloud “9” file
          • Many people do not like to have ideas because they do not want the “hassle”
          • The Cloud “9” file provides the simplest of channels
          • If you have a new idea, you just wait until the file reaches you and then you put your idea into the file
        • Creative Task Sheet
        • Opportunity Audit
        • Regular Creative Sessions
        • Trainers and Training
        • Facilitators
        • The Fat/Cat™ Program
        • Messing Around
      • Training
        • People can be trained in creative thinking skills in a deliberate manner.
        • Training involves will, skill, and method
          • Will
          • Skill
          • Method
        • Training Needs
          • 1. General Creative Skill
          • 2. Special Area Creativity
          • 3. Operating Creative Skills
        • Forms of Training
        • Allocation of Time
          • One-Day Seminar (6 ½ hours)
          • Two-Day Seminar (11 ½ hours)
          • Train the Trainers (5 days or 40 hours)
          • Advanced Lateral Thinking (5 days or 40 hours)
          • Modules which are designed for use within an organization by that organization’s trained trainers
            • 40-Hour Module
            • 20-Hour (Executive) Module
            • 10-Hour (Basic Skill) Module
            • 5-Hour (Minimum) Module
            • Each of these modules can be shortened by cutting down on the practice time allowed
            • The modules may be split into segments of different lengths
            • As a general principle, the more segments, the more effective the training
      • Formats
        • Instant Use
          • Two minutes individual thinking
            • What ideas have we got?
            • The ideas
            • We have some ideas there
            • We can summarize them …
            • The whole process might take six minutes
            • Further time could be taken exploring the ideas that were started by the random word
              • Extracting the concepts
              • Finding different ways of using the concepts
          • We can look at another, even simpler, instant use of a technique
            • We want some new ideas for covering tables in a restaurant
            • We’ll try some direct alternatives
            • The fixed point is: attention to surface of tables for dining purposes
            • Let’s have some instant ideas
            • Such a process might take four minutes
            • It is interesting to see how the alternatives moved from the conventional to “new” ones as soon as
            • There could then have followed a whole lot of “interesting” table surfaces
            • A new “fixed point”
          • It may be felt that these instant uses are so casual that there is no need to be formal
          • But formality adds value
          • Defining the fixed point when looking for alternatives is much more valuable
        • Individual Formats
          • The great advantage of individual use is that it is very much faster because …
            • Group use of a technique is between three and five times as time-consuming
          • Ideas and concepts are written down as they are generated
          • Stage 1. Focus
            • Identifying and clarifying the focus
            • Information input, if required
            • Alternative phrasing and definition of the focus
            • Choosing subfocuses for later use
          • Stage 2. Technique
            • Choice of technique
            • Setting up the technique (that is, setting up a provocation)
            • Use of the technique
          • Stage 3. Output
            • Extracting concepts
            • Working with concepts
            • Harvesting
            • Treatment of ideas
            • Formal output
            • It is difficult to give fixed timings because each stage can
              • A general guide might be
              • The length of time given to the output stage will vary according to the nature of the task
            • Extracting concepts from the ideas and working with concepts to improve them
            • More than one technique can be used at a time
              • It is not advisable, however, to use more than three techniques at the same session
                • Focus
                • Technique 1
                • Technique 2
                • Technique 3
                • Output
          • Timing Advice: concept work, harvesting and treatment of ideas
          • Example
            • Focus
            • Technique 1 - Challenge Technique
            • Concept
            • Technique 2. Escape Technique
            • Output:
            • Harvesting
            • For-instance ideas
            • Change in thinking
            • Shaping of ideas
            • Formal output
            • Idea
            • Value
            • Concept
            • Value
            • In this example, the harvesting and treatment of ideas could have been done much more thoroughly
        • Group Formats
          • Focus Stage
          • Technique Stage
          • Output Stage
          • Next Stage
          • Final Output
        • Recording
        • Group Structures
          • Number of People
          • Nature of the People
          • Official Roles
          • Time
          • Formats
      • Evaluation
        • End Categories
          • Directly Usable Idea
          • Good Idea but Not for Us
          • Good Idea but Not Now (Back Burner)
          • Needs More Work
          • Powerful but Not Usable
          • Interesting but Unusable
          • Weak Value
          • Unworkable
        • Major Considerations
          • Benefits
          • Feasibility
          • Resources
          • Fit
        • Essential Factors
          • Vital Factors
          • Fatal Factors
          • Flexibility
        • Fall-Back Position
        • Testability
        • Risk
        • The Final Decision
          • Points System
          • Direct Comparison
          • Hindsight Logic
          • Emotions
          • Circumstance
        • Making an Idea Work
    • Summary
      • Point 1 — the need for organizations designing a way forward
      • Point 2 — the need to break free of the prison of the past
      • Point 3 — getting beyond the “crazy” approach to creativity
      • Point 4 — creative thinking can be systematic
      • Point 5 — use with organizations
      • Point 6 — there is a real need for serious creativity
    • Appendixes
      • Appendix 1: The Lateral Thinking Techniques
        • Six Thinking Hats
        • The Creative Pause
        • Simple Focus
        • Challenge
        • Alternatives
        • The Concept Fan
        • Concepts
        • Provocation and Movement
        • Arising Provocations
        • Escape Provocations
        • Stepping-Stone Provocations
          • Reversal
          • Exaggeration
          • Distortion
          • Wishful Thinking
        • The Random Input
        • Movement
          • Extract a Principle
          • Focus on the Difference
          • Moment to Moment
          • Positive Aspects
          • Under What Circumstances
        • The Stratal
        • The Filament Technique
      • Appendix 2: Notes on the Use of the Lateral Thinking Techniques
        • Six Hats
        • Improvement
        • Problems
        • Tasks
        • Design
        • Greenfield
        • Opportunity
        • Invention
        • Blocked or Stagnant
        • Projects
        • Conflict
        • Futures
        • Strategy
        • Planning
        • In time, the basic uses of the techniques will become familiar
      • Appendix 3: Harvesting Checklist
        • Specific Ideas
        • “For-Instance” Ideas
        • Seedling Ideas
        • Direct Concepts
        • “Pull-back” Concepts
        • Directions
        • Needs
        • New Focuses
        • Changes
        • Flavor
        • The thinking itself can also be the subject of comment
        • Harvesting is a “blue hat” process because we stand back to look at the output of the thinking
      • Appendix 4: Treatment of Ideas Checklist
        • Shaping Ideas
        • Tailoring Ideas
        • Strengthening Ideas
        • Reinforcing Ideas
        • Take-up of Ideas
        • Comparison
        • Faults and Defects
        • Consequences
        • Testability
        • Pre-evaluation
        • The treatment process completes the creative, constructive, and positive action
  • Research
  • Project Notes
  • Trash


“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not turbulence;

it is to act with yesterday’s logic”. — Peter Drucker



The shift from manual workers
who do as they are being told
either by the task or by the boss —

TO knowledge workers
who have to manage themselves

profoundly challenges social structure


Managing Oneself (PDF) is a REVOLUTION in human affairs.” …

“It also requires an almost 180-degree change in the knowledge workers’ thoughts and actions from what most of us—even of the younger generation—still take for granted as the way to think and the way to act.” …

… “Managing Oneself is based on the very opposite realities:
Workers are likely to outlive organizations (and therefore, employers can’t be depended on for designing your life),

and the knowledge worker has mobility.” ← in a context



More than anything else,

the individual
has to take more responsibility
for himself or herself,
rather than depend on the company.”


“Making a living is no longer enough
‘Work’ has to make a life .” continue

finding and selecting the pieces of the puzzle


The Second Curve




These pages are attention directing tools for navigating a world moving relentlessly toward unimagined futures.



What’s the next effective action on the road ahead




It’s up to you to figure out what to harvest and calendarize
working something out in time (1915, 1940, 1970 … 2040 … the outer limit of your concern)nobody is going to do it for you.

It may be a step forward to actively reject something (rather than just passively ignoring) and then working out a plan for coping with what you’ve rejected.

Your future is between your ears and our future is between our collective ears — it can’t be otherwise.

A site exploration: The memo THEY don't want you to see



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