De Bono, Edward 1933–

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de BONO, Edward 1933–

PERSONAL: Born May 19, 1933, in St. Julian's Bay, Malta; son of Joseph Edward (a physician) and Josephine (a journalist; maiden name, Burns) de Bono; married Josephine Hall-White, 1971; children: two sons. Education: St. Edward's College, Malta; Royal University of Malta, B.Sc., 1953, M.D., 1955; Oxford University, M.A., 1957, D.Phil., 1961; Cambridge University, Ph.D., 1963. Hobbies and other interests: Polo, canoeing (paddled 112 miles from Oxford to London non-stop while at Oxford University), games design, travel, toys.

ADDRESSES: Home—Cranmer Hall, Fakenham, Norfolk NR21 9HX, England; L2 Albany, Piccadilly, London W1V 9RR, England Office—P.O. Box 17, Sliema SLM 01, Malta. Agent—Michael Horniman, A. P. Watt, 26/28 Bedford Row, London WC1R 4HL, England.

CAREER: Oxford University, Oxford, England, research assistant, 1957–60, lecturer, 1960–61; University of London, London, England, lecturer, 1961–63; Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, assistant director of research, 1963–76, lecturer in medicine, 1976–83. Research associate and honorary registrar, St. Thomas Hospital Medical School, University of London; research associate, Harvard Medical School; honorary consultant, Boston City Hospital, 1965–66. Honorary director and founding member of Cognitive Research Trust, 1971–; secretary-general of Supranational Independent Thinking Organisation (SITO), 1983–; founder of the International Creative Forum, 1990. Lecturer to industry and education groups on research cognitive processes. Inventor; designer of the L-game.

MEMBER: Medical Research Society, Athenaeum Club.

AWARDS, HONORS: Rhodes Scholar.


The Use of Lateral Thinking, J. Cape (London, England), 1967, published as New Think: The Use of Lateral Thinking in the Generation of Ideas, Basic Books (New York, NY), 1967.

The Five-Day Course in Thinking, Basic Books (New York, NY), 1967, reprinted with a foreword by Isaac Asimov, International Center for Creative Thinking, 1990.

The Mechanism of Mind, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1969.

Lateral Thinking: Creation Step by Step, Harper (New York, NY), 1970, published in England as Lateral Thinking: A Textbook of Creativity, Ward, Lock (London, England), 1970.

The Dog Exercising Machine, J. Cape (London, England), 1970, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1971.

The New Word "Po," Ward Lock Educational (London, England), 1970.

The Thinking Class, Ward Lock Educational (London, England), 1970.

(Editor) Technology Today, Routledge & Kegan Paul (London, England), 1971.

Lateral Thinking for Management: A Handbook of Creativity, American Management Association (New York, NY), 1971.

Practical Thinking: Four Ways to Be Right, Five Ways to Be Wrong, Five Ways to Understand, J. Cape (London, England), 1971.

About Think, J. Cape (London, England), 1972.

Children Solve Problems, Penguin (London, England), 1972, Harper (New York, NY), 1974.

PO: A Device for Successful Thinking, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1972, published in England as PO: Beyond Yes & No, Penguin Education, 1973.

Think Tank, Think Tank Corp., 1973.

(Editor) Eureka: A History of Inventions, Holt (New York, NY), 1974.

Teaching Thinking, Maurice Temple Smith (London, England), 1976.

(Editor) The Greatest Thinkers: The Thirty Minds That Shaped Our Civilization, Putnam (New York, NY), 1976.

Wordpower: An Illustrated Dictionary of Vital Words, Harper (New York, NY), 1977.

The Case of the Disappearing Elephant: A 3G Mystery (juvenile), illustrated by George Craig, Dent (London, England), 1977.

Opportunities: A Handbook of Business Opportunity Search, Associated Business Programmes (London, England), 1978.

The Happiness Purpose, Maurice Temple Smith (London, England), 1978.

Future Positive, Maurice Temple Smith (London, England), 1979, Viking (New York, NY), 1993.

Atlas of Management Thinking, Maurice Temple Smith (London, England), 1981.

De Bono's Thinking Course (also see below), BBC Publications (London, England), 1982, Facts on File (New York, NY), 1986, revised edition, 1994.

Learn-to-Think, Capra/New (Santa Barbara, CA), 1982.

Tactics: The Art and Science of Success, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1984.

Conflicts: A Better Way to Resolve Them, Harrap (London, England), 1985.

Six Thinking Hats: An Essential Approach to Business Management from the Creator of Lateral Thinking, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1985, published as The Power of Focused Thinking: Six Thinking Hats, International Center for Creative Thinking, 1990, revised and updated edition published as Six Thinking Hats, Back Bay Books (Boston, MA), 1999.

CoRT Thinking Program: CoRT 1-Breadth, Pergamon (New York, NY), 1987.

Letters to Thinkers: Further Thoughts on Lateral Thinking, Harrap (London, England), 1987.

Masterthinker, International Center for Creative Thinking, 1990.

Masterthinker's Handbook, International Center for Creative Thinking, 1990.

Thinking Skills for Success, Paradigm (Eden Prairie, MN), 1990.

I Am Right, You Are Wrong: From This to the New Renaissance: From Rock Logic to Water Logic, Viking (London, England), 1990, Viking (New York, NY), 1991.

Handbook for the Positive Revolution, Viking (New York, NY), 1991.

Six Action Shoes, Harper Business (New York, NY), 1991.

Serious Creativity: Using the Power of Lateral Thinking to Create New Ideas, Harper Business (New York, NY), 1992.

Surpetition: Creating Value Monopolies When Everyone Else Is Merely Competing, Harper Business (New York, NY), 1992.

Practical Thinking, Viking (New York, NY), 1992.

Teach Your Child How to Think, Viking (New York, NY), 1993.

Water Logic, McQuaig Group (Canada), 1993.

Future Positive, Viking (New York, NY), 1993.

Mind Power, Dorling Kindersley (New York, NY), 1995.

The Creative Fource: Operations Handbook, Creative Fource Administration Center (Des Moines, IA), 1995.

Edward De Bono's Direct Attention Thinking Tools, Advanced Practical Thinking Training (London, England), 1997.

How to Be More Interesting, Viking (London, England), 1997, published as How You Can Be More Interesting, New Millennium Press (Beverly Hills, CA), 2000.

Edward De Bono's Thinking for Action, DK (New York, NY), 1998.

Why I Want to Be King of Australia, Penguin (New York, NY), 1999.

New Thinking for the New Millennium, New Millennium Press (Beverly Hills, CA), 2000.

Also author of Decision Mate, International Center for Creative Thinking, and Positive Revolution for Brazil, 1990, and audio cassette "Master Thinker II: Six Thinking Hats," Audio Literature, 1997.


The Greatest Thinkers (thirteen-part television series), WDR (Germany), 1980.

De Bono's Thinking Course (ten-part television series; appeared with the book of the same name), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), 1982.

Sixty Minutes to Super Thinking (cassette recording), Audio Renaissance, 1988.

Also author of How to Change Ideas: Your Own (recording), J. Norton Publishers. Writer of television items and of feature stories for Sunday Mirror, Telegraph Machine, Nova, Oz, Mind Alive, Science Journal, Sunday Times, Fashion, and Honey. Contributor of articles to professional journals, including Nature, Lancet, Clinical Science, and American Journal of Physiology.

SIDELIGHTS: Edward de Bono has made a career out of studying the thinking process. Born into a well-to-do family in Malta, he excelled academically from a young age, and eventually studied at Oxford on a Rhodes scholarship. He was trained as a physician, but moved from medicine to writing, embarking on a passionate pursuit of finding out the best means to creative thinking. De Bono's philosophy is based on a concept called "lateral thinking," which involves thinking outside of standard thought processes. In his more than sixty books, he has adapted his ideas to serve everyone from Nobel Prize laureates to children affected by Downs Syndrome. He has applied his core theory of lateral thinking to numerous fields, such as business management, education, and conflict resolution, and has written books encouraging parents to teach their children innovative thinking processes. De Bono travels more than 250,000 miles each year flying between his several island homes and the many consultations and seminars he provides to individuals, organizations, and businesses.

The concept of lateral thinking, or creative thinking, is central to de Bono's work and was first put forth in The Use of Lateral Thinking, also known as New Think: The Use of Lateral Thinking in the Generation of Ideas. In the work, de Bono contrasts "lateral thinking" with "vertical thinking," which is habitual thinking that explores only the most obvious solutions to a problem. "Lateral thinking" does not accept the obvious premises of the problem, but instead looks for ways to go around them; de Bono believes that this creative method of thinking can be learned. Clarence Petersen, reviewing New Think in the Chicago Tribune, reported that the book includes "useful exercises on thinking 'laterally'" and that through those exercises, de Bono "shows how to break with habitual thinking."

The author turned his "lateral thinking" method into a thinking course, which was the basis for a ten-part television series aired by the British Broadcasting Company. De Bono's Thinking Course, a work based on the series, was hailed by Petersen in the Chicago Tribune Books as "a startling book for people who think they know how to think." Claiming that the book's many exercises are fun as well as frustrating, Petersen attested that de Bono "shows how thinking works,… and how it can be unleashed to run in new directions."

De Bono has elaborated the original principle of "lateral thinking" through several other metaphorically-labeled types of thinking. In Serious Creativity: Using the Power of Lateral Thinking to Create New Ideas, for example, de Bono discusses his "Six Thinking Hats" method and introduces the concept of "creative pause." A Los Angeles Times Book Review writer, although expressing mixed feelings about the whimsy of the "Six Hats" image, stated that the tool "actually makes a lot of sense. You just have to suspend your disbelief and try it."

De Bono has also explored the question of how children think. In Children Solve Problems, he wrote up the results of a study in which he gave children six creative tasks. The children were asked to design a sleep machine, an elephant-weighing machine, a system for constructing a house, and a system for building a rocket. They were also asked to think of ways to improve the human body and to help the police in their work. The book is illustrated with two hundred drawings made by the children themselves, showing how they solved these problems. De Bono compares the children's problem-solving techniques with adult approaches, and he also expresses the opinion that schools discourage children's creativity when they should be encouraging it. Discussing the topic with Sarah Cassidy in the London Independent Sunday, De Bono stated that rigid thinking and an obsession with test scores in England has led to a system in which many children "leave school believing that they are stupid. They are not stupid at all, many are good thinkers who have never had the chance to show it. But that lack of confidence will pervade the rest of their lives. I am horrified by people who tell kids of 14 that they cannot succeed academically and so had better go in for carpentry of something like that." He believes that sweeping changes are needed in Britain's educational system, stating: "Education is like a ship where the lights have gone out, the rudder is broken, the crew is demoralised and it's drifting in the wrong direction. You can fly in a new captain, mend the lights, fix the rudder and inspire the crew but you'll still be heading in the wrong direction." Rather than teaching children to absorb information and repeat it correctly, school should be equipping student with the skills needed to think creatively.



Dudgeon, Piers, Breaking Out of the Box: A Biography of Edward de Bono, Hodder (London, England), 2001.


Book Report, March-April, 1995, Edna Boardman, review of De Bono's Thinking Course, p. 48.

Chicago Tribune, February 24, 1985.

Financial Times, February 22, 2003, Colin Brennan, "Expert's Expert," p. 2.

Independent, September 7, 2000, p. 10.

Independent Sunday, July 20, 1997, Ros Wynne-Jones, review of How to Be More Interesting, p. 10; October 28, 2002, Sarah Cassidy, interview with Edward de Bono, p. 11.

Library Journal, May 1, 1974, p. 1297; June 1, 1993, Linda Cullum, review of Teach Your Child How to Think, p. 168; September 15, 1994, p. 83.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, June 7, 1992, p. 6.

Publishers Weekly, May 31, 1993, p. 33.

Realities (France), August, 1967.

Realities (United States), November, 1967.

Times Literary Supplement, March 30, 1973; August 9, 1985, p. 886.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), May 1, 1988, p. 8.

Weekend Australian, July 7, 2001, Frank Campbell, review of Breaking Out of the Box: The Biography of Edward de Bono, p. R10.


Edward de Bono Home Page, (June 10, 2003).

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De Bono, Edward 1933–

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