Six action shoes
By Edward de Bono (includes links to many of his other books)
Amazon link: Six Action Shoes: a brilliant New Way to Take control of Any Business or Life Situation
Author's Note: Thinking and Action
Chapter 1: The Perfect Person
I had lunch with two senior police officers who were talking about the increasing pressures being felt by the police force.
On one side there was increasing crime, violence, drug-related offenses, and criminals who were more and more sophisticated.
On the other side the public was putting more and more pressure on the police to behave compassionately.
Not only was emergency action required from the police responding to earthquakes, fires, etc., but the police were being asked to perform the roles formerly played by doctors and priests in communities that were small and stable.
All those involved in training police officers were aware that the end product of the training was to be a perfect person who knew how to act appropriately in any type of situation.
But how do ‘,you get a perfect person?
How do you train perfection?
That was the problem.
Of course, people occasionally approach this ideal.
But how can more people attain that state of perfection?
There seem to be two traditional approaches to this problem: ¶¶¶
Method 1: Establish rigid codes of behavior and expect people to learn these codes and follow them without deviation.
This method avoids the need to think out a response to individual situations.
To some extent this used to be the military approach.
But how do you establish routines that cover all possible situations?
How do people choose between a multitude of routines or act when there is no relevant routine to apply?
The effect can be disastrous if the wrong routine is selected.
The method works only within a limited range of situations under close supervision. ¶¶¶
Method 2: Establish general guiding principles, and then allow people to design their own actions around these principles.
This method allows the action to fit the occasion.
The guiding principles are designed chiefly to avoid mistakes, and training consists of showing how people follow or fail to follow these guiding principles.
There is merit in this approach, but if the principles are very detailed, it is impossible to remember them all, and if the principles are very broad, then they don’t give much guidance. ¶¶¶
Exhorting someone to behave in a perfect manner is not very useful.
We may fool ourselves into believing that we are achieving our objective, but at most we are making only slight improvements.
IBM has a slogan that says “Think.”
This may get people to stop, pause, think, reflect, and appreciate the value of thinking, but its value is limited because the basic instruction—to think—does not in any way explain how this is to be done.
The six hat method, simple as it is, does provide a framework for thinking.
The six action shoe method does the same for action.
In the course of this discussion on training the perfect person it occurred to me that instead of training one perfect person we should train six people, each of whom would be perfect for just one type of situation. ¶¶¶
This seemed far more practical and easier to do.
Of course, these six people would all live under one skin.
That was the origin of the six pairs of action shoes. ¶¶¶
The success of the six hat thinking framework suggested that something similar could be done for action.
The need for perfectly appropriate action suggested a need for breaking down action into six different styles, each of which could be developed.
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