Altough they can seem naive I found the ideas of this book useful and enjoyable (as playing with thought should always be).

Throughout the book De Bono (Maltese psychologist, famous for his many books about the creative process and as the originator of the term 'lateral thinking') displays an attitude very different from other books on the same subject: he considers critical thinking as only a small part of a thinker curriculum, and warns that it can (and usually does) lead to stagnation, inflated ego, and sterile battles where everyone's main concern is to prove his argument right and his opponent's wrong (unfortunately this is what we have come to consider the standard way in which thinking is done, rarely considering that while attacking someone else's idea can be the fastest way to intellectual gratification, it takes someone who generates new, original ideas, for progress to be possible). He also points out that higher reasoning skills can be a much more dangerous trap, because you will defend your ideas better and become attached to them more easily.

My opinion is that the more useful parts of the book can be boiled down to the following tool classes:


1-Directional Tools: These are techniques disguised as categorization, but their actual goal is to force you to look in various directions. For example the PMI tool consists of listing, regarding an idea, positive sides (plus), negative sides (minus), and sides that stimulate your curiosity (interesting - as in 'I wonder how people behaviour would change if this idea became reality'). It is important to understand that this isn't the usual pro et contra list: the fact that something is under p,m, or i shouldn't affect your decisions at this point. It's just a way to look at things that else you wouldn't have thought, generating a list of considerations that will easily and naturally create new ideas, and allow you to look at the initial problem from a new point of view.

2-Lateral Thinking Tools: Their purpose is to allow you to take unexplored routes, staying out of familiar thought patterns in order to see what comes out. In the stepping stone method you think of a general idea (apparently absurd) that would solve the problem, and then try to come up with a feasible way to apply that idea (for example, regarding the parking problem in one critical area, the stepping stone could be 'drivers should desire to limit their parking time', and a feasible way one could come up with is 'make a law that allows everyone to park there for free as long as they leave their headlights on). In the Escape method you consider something you take for granted about the subject and reverse it, seeing what ideas follow. In the Random Stimulation method you take a random word and then try to use it to solve the problem: it will be easy for your mind to create a link even between the two most unrelated facts, but in doing so it will have to approach the problem from a different direction than if you had tried to generate ideas using more 'logical' pathways (by the way, this is the goal of all these three tools)

3-Decision Making Tools: The ones I found most useful are the *Dice method* (just pick one random alternative, pretend you have already chosen it, then try to justify your choice and to be happy with it. Of course you can do this for all the possible choices in turn and then pick the one with which you managed best to feel happy, or you can actually shift the weight of the choice on fate, trusting in the humans' ability to like the decisions they have already made and considering that you had already trimmed down the list to the feasible options you were undecided about), *The easy way out* (basically the same, but rather than choosing randomly you pick the option that seems the easiest for you to follow), the *Buriden Ass method* (fill your mind with the negative sides of every choice in your list: once you find them less attractive it will be easy to detach yourself and make the decision), The *Ideal Solution method* (after having written down all the alternatives, you stop thinking about them and instead list the characteristics that the ideal solution should have. Then you compare all the alternatives you found with this ideal picture and see which of them fits in better. You should have your list ready before you build the ideal solution, or else you will create alternatives tailored to it, thus impoverishing the creative process).

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