Edward de Bono

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Edward de Bono
De Bono in 2009
Born(1933-05-19)19 May 1933
Died9 June 2021(2021-06-09) (aged 88)
Known forLateral thinking
Josephine Hall-White
(m. 1971, divorced)
Children3 sons, 1 daughter

Edward Charles Francis Publius de Bono (19 May 1933 – 9 June 2021)[1] was a Maltese physician and commentator. He originated the term lateral thinking, wrote many books on thinking including Six Thinking Hats.[2]

Life and career[edit]

Edward Charles Francis Publius de Bono was born in Malta on 19 May 1933.[3] He was the son of Josephine Burns de Bono.

Educated at St. Edward's College, Malta, he then gained a medical degree from the University of Malta. Following this, he proceeded as a Rhodes Scholar in 1955 to Christ Church, Oxford,[4] where he gained an MA in psychology and physiology. He represented Oxford in polo and set two canoeing records. He then gained a PhD degree in medicine from Trinity College, Cambridge.

De Bono held faculty appointments at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge (where he helped to establish the university's medical school), London and Harvard.[5] He was a professor at the University of Malta, the University of Pretoria, the University of Central England (now called Birmingham City University) and Dublin City University. De Bono held the Da Vinci Professor of Thinking chair at the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, Arizona, US.[6] He was one of the 27 Ambassadors for the European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009.[7]

The originator of the term 'Lateral Thinking', de Bono wrote 85 books with translations into 46 languages.[5] He taught his thinking methods to government agencies, corporate clients, organizations and individuals, privately or publicly in group sessions. He promoted the World Center for New Thinking (2004–2011), based in Malta, which applied Thinking Tools to solution and policy design on the geopolitical level.

In 1976, de Bono took part in a radio debate for the BBC with British philosopher A. J. Ayer, on the subject of effective democracy.[8]

Starting on Wednesday 8 September 1982, the BBC ran a series of 10 weekly programmes entitled de Bono's Thinking Course.[9] In the shows, he explained how thinking skills could be improved by attention and practice. The series was repeated the following year. A book with the same title accompanied the series. In May 1994, he gave a half-hour Opinions lecture televised on Channel 4 and subsequently published in The Independent as "Thinking Hats On".[10] In 1995, he created a futuristic documentary film, 2040: Possibilities by Edward de Bono, depicting a lecture to an audience of viewers released from a cryogenic freeze for contemporary society in the year 2040.[5]

Convinced that a key way forward for humanity is a better language, he published The Edward de Bono Code Book in 2000. In this book, he proposed a suite of new words based on numbers, where each number combination represents a useful idea or situation that currently does not have a single-word representation. For example, de Bono code 6/2 means "Give me my point of view and I will give you your point of view." Such a code might be used in situations where one or both of the two parties in a dispute are making insufficient effort to understand the other's perspective.[11]

Other ideas[edit]

De Bono invented the L game, which he introduced in his book The Five-Day Course in Thinking.

In 2000, de Bono advised a UK Foreign Office committee that the Arab–Israeli conflict might be due, in part, to low levels of zinc found in people who eat unleavened bread (e.g. pita flatbread). De Bono argued that low zinc levels leads to heightened aggression. He suggested shipping out jars of Marmite to compensate.[12][13]

Edward de Bono argued that companies could raise money just as governments now do – by printing it. He put forward the idea of private currency as a claim on products or services produced by the issuer.[14]


In the Handbook of Creativity, Robert J. Sternberg writes,

Equally damaging to the scientific study of creativity, in our view, has been the takeover of the field, in the popular mind, by those who follow what might be referred to as a pragmatic approach. Those taking this approach have been concerned primarily with developing creativity, secondarily with understanding it, but almost not at all with testing the validity of their ideas about it. [...] Perhaps the foremost proponent of this approach is Edward De Bono, whose work on lateral thinking and other aspects of creativity has had what appears to be considerable commercial success.[15]

Frameworks For Thinking is an evaluation of 42 popular thinking frameworks conducted by a team of researchers. Regarding Edward de Bono they write,

[he] is more interested in the usefulness of developing ideas than proving the reliability or efficacy of his approach. There is sparse research evidence to show that generalised improvements in thinking performance can be attributed to training in the use of CoRT [Cognitive Research Trust] or Thinking Hats tools. An early evaluation of CoRT reported significant benefits for Special Educational Needs (SEN) pupils... However, in a more recent study with Australian aboriginal children (Ritchie and Edwards, 1996), little evidence of generalisation was found other than in the area of creative thinking.[16]

Summarising de Bono's 1985 work in Conflicts: A Better Way to Resolve Them, M. Afzalur Rahim, distinguished professor of management at Western Kentucky University with a particular focus on conflict management in organizations, gives his view that, as pertains to Rahim's own field of research, "De Bono's approach to total elimination of conflict is no different from the approaches of the classicists. This approach to dealing with conflict is completely out of tune with modern thinking and, therefore, unsatisfactory."[17]

Personal life[edit]

In 1971 he married Josephine Hall-White. They had two sons, Caspar and Charlie, and later divorced.[18] His will, published after his death, named two more children, another son, Francis Edward de Bono, also known as Edward de Bono, the son of Magdalena Szekely, and a daughter, Juliana Pars.[19]

He has honorary degrees from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology,[20] and the University of Dundee.[21]

Asteroid 2541 Edebono discovered by Luboš Kohoutek is named after him.[22]

Published works[edit]

De Bono on Channel 4 lecture programme Opinions, produced by Open Media in 1994

A partial list of books by de Bono includes:

  • The Use of Lateral Thinking (1967) ISBN 978-0-14-013788-0, introduced the term "lateral thinking"
  • New Think (1967, 1968) ISBN 978-0-380-01426-2
  • The Five-Day Course in Thinking (1968), introduced the L game
  • The Mechanism of Mind (1969), Intl Center for Creative Thinking 1992 reprint: ISBN 978-0-14-013787-3
  • Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step, (1970), Harper & Row 1973 paperback: ISBN 978-0-06-090325-1
  • The Dog-Exercising Machine (1970)
  • Technology Today (1971)
  • Practical Thinking (1971)
  • Lateral Thinking for Management (1971)
  • Po: A Device for Successful Thinking (1972), ISBN 978-0-671-21338-1, introduced the term Po
  • Children Solve Problems (1972) ISBN 978-0-14-080323-5, ISBN 978-0-06-011024-6 (1974 reprint)
  • Po: Beyond Yes and No (1973), ISBN 978-0-14-021715-5
  • Eureka!: An Illustrated History of Inventions from the Wheel to the Computer (1974)
  • Teaching Thinking (1976)
  • The Greatest Thinkers: The Thirty Minds That Shaped Our Civilization (1976), ISBN 978-0-399-11762-6
  • Wordpower: An Illustrated Dictionary of Vital Words (1977)
  • The Happiness Purpose (1977)
  • Opportunities: A handbook for business opportunity search (1978)
  • Future Positive (1979)
  • Atlas of Management Thinking (1981)
  • De Bono's Thinking Course (1982)[9]
  • Learn-To-Think: Coursebook and Instructors Manual with Michael Hewitt-Gleeson de Saint-Arnaud (1982), ISBN 978-0-88496-199-4
  • Tactics: The Art and Science of Success (1985)
  • Conflicts: A Better Way to Resolve them (1985)
  • Masterthinker's Handbook (1985)
  • Six Thinking Hats (1985) ISBN 978-0-316-17831-0
  • I Am Right, You Are Wrong: From This to the New Renaissance: From Rock Logic to Water Logic (1968) ISBN 978-0-670-84231-5
  • Six Action Shoes (1991)
  • Handbook for the Positive Revolution (1991) ISBN 978-0-14-012679-2
  • Serious Creativity: Using the Power of Lateral Thinking to Create New Ideas (1992) ISBN 978-0-00-255143-4 – a summation of many of De Bono's ideas on creativity
  • Sur/Petition (1992) ISBN 978-0-88730-543-6
  • Water Logic: The Alternative to I am Right You are Wrong (1993) ISBN 978-1-56312-037-4
  • Parallel thinking: from Socratic thinking to de Bono thinking (1994) ISBN 978-0-670-85126-3
  • Teach Yourself How to Think (1995)
  • Textbook of Wisdom (1996) ISBN 978-0-670-87011-0
  • How to Be More Interesting (1998)
  • Simplicity (1999)
  • New Thinking for the New Millennium (1999)
  • Why I Want To Be King of Australia (1999)
  • The De Bono Code Book (2000) ISBN 978-0-14-028777-6
  • How to Have A Beautiful Mind (2004)
  • Six Value Medals (2005) ISBN 978-0-09-189459-7
  • H+ (Plus): A New Religion (2006) ISBN 978-0-09-191047-1
  • How to Have Creative Ideas (2007) ISBN 978-0-09-191048-8
  • Free or Unfree? : Are Americans Really Free? (2007) ISBN 978-1-59777-544-1
  • Intelligence, Information, Thinking (2007) ISBN 978-1-84-218133-1
  • Six Frames For Thinking About Information (2008) ISBN 978-1-40-702316-8
  • The Love of Two Cockroaches (2009) ISBN 978-9-99-326159-9
  • Think! Before It's Too Late (2009) ISBN 978-0-09-192409-6
  • Lateral Thinking – An Introduction (2014) ISBN 978-0-09-195502-1
  • Bonting – Thinking to Create Value (2016) ISBN 978-9-99-575019-0

De Bono also wrote numerous articles published in refereed and other journals, including The Lancet and Clinical Science.

See also[edit]

Research on Edward de Bono's methods[edit]

  1. Can Simple Ideation Techniques Enhance Idea Generation? Belski, I., Hourani, A., Valentine, A., & Belski, A. In A. Bainbridge-Smith, Z. T. Qi, & G.S. Gupta (Eds.), Proceedings of the 25th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (pp. 1-9). Wellington, New Zealand. 2014
  2. Can simple ideation techniques influence idea generation: comparing results from Australia, Czech Republic, Finland and Russian Federation. Belski, I., Belski, A., Berdonosov, V., Busov, B., Bartlova, M. Malashevskaya, E., ...Tervonen, N. In A. Oo, A. Patel, T.Hilditch, & S. Chandran (Ed.s), Proceedings of the 26th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (pp. 474-873). Geelong, Australia: School of Engineering, Deakin University. 2015
  3. Eight Fields of MATCEMIB help students to generate more ideas.Belski, I., Livotov, P., & Mayer, O. Procedia CIRP, 39, 85-90 2016
  4. Engineering Creativity: The Influence of General Knowledge and Thinking Heuristics Belski, I., Skiadopoulos, A., Aranda-Mena, G., Cascini, G., Russo, D. Advances in Systematic Creativity pp 245-263 2019
  5. ‘E’ posibile migliorare la creattivita’ e’ la riflessivita’ dei ragazzi’ (Can we improve thinking and creativity in school children?) Tidona, G. DIALOGO – mensile regionale di cultura, politica e attualita’, n. 7, anno XXVI, October 2001
  6. Reflexivity and creativity at school, Tidona, G. 2002
  7. "The effects of the six thinking hats and speed on creativity in brainstorming". Göçmen, O., Coşkun H., 2019
  8. The effects of the CoRT 1 thinking skills program on students. Edwards, J., & Baldauf, R. B. (Jr.). The effects of the CoRT 1 thinking skills programme on students. In D. N. Perkins, J. Lochhead, & J. Bishop (Eds.),Thinking: The second international conference (pp. 453–473). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. 1987
  9. Measuring the effects of the direct teaching of thinking skills. Edwards, J. Human Intelligence Newsletter , 9 (30), pp.9-10;1988
  10. The direct teaching of thinking skills Edwards, J. G. Evans, Learning and Teaching Cognitive Skills , Melbourne, Australian Council for Educational Research, 1991, pp. 87-106; 1991
  11. Research work on the CoRT method. Edwards, J. In S. Maclure & P. Davies (Eds.), Learning to think: Thinking to learn (pp. 19–30). Oxford, UK: Pergamon. 1991
  12. The Teaching of Thinking Edwards, J. Paper presented at the Joint AARE/NZARE Conference, Geelong. 1992
  13. Thinking, education and human potential: International Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Melbourne: Hawker Brownlow, 6-15. 1994
  14. Thinking and change. Edwards, J. In S. Dingli (Ed.), Creative thinking: A multi-faceted approach (pp. 16–29). Msida: Malta University Press. 1994
  15. Teaching thinking in schools: An overview. Edwards, J. Teaching thinking in schools, Unicorn, 21(1), 27-36. 1995
  16. The direct teaching of thinking in education and in business. Edwards, J. In S. Dingli (Ed.), Creative thinking: New perspectives (pp. 82–95). Msida: Malta University Press. 1996
  17. Learning, Thinking and Assessment Edwards, J. Personal paper summarising work 1999


  1. ^ Jeffries, Stuart (10 June 2021). "Edward de Bono obituary". the Guardian. Retrieved 15 June 2021.
  2. ^ "Guest post: When anyone can be a money issuer". FT Alphaville. 28 May 2014. Archived from the original on 30 May 2014.
  3. ^ "Birthday's today". The Telegraph. 19 May 2011. Archived from the original on 20 May 2011. Retrieved 16 May 2014. Dr Edward de Bono, lateral thinker, 78
  4. ^ Edward de Bono entry on Rhodes Trust database
  5. ^ a b c "Bio at Penguin books". Archived from the original on 19 June 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
  6. ^ "About Edward de Bono". Edward de Bono's Personal Web Site. 5 May 2008. Archived from the original on 12 April 2008. Retrieved 5 May 2008.
  7. ^ "European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009 – Europa". Archived from the original on 20 February 2009. Retrieved 14 May 2009.
  8. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - Head to Head, Series 2, AJ Ayer and Edward de Bono". BBC. Retrieved 25 December 2022.
  9. ^ a b "Broadcast – BBC Programme Index". genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 21 July 2021.
  10. ^ "Thinking hats on, please: In the first of three essays this week on". The Independent. 2 May 1994.
  11. ^ de Bono, Edward (2000). The de Bono Code Book. p. 52.
  12. ^ Lloyd, John; Mitchinson, John (2006). The Book of General Ignorance. Faber & Faber.
  13. ^ Jury, Louise (19 December 1999). "De Bono's Marmite plan for peace in Middle Yeast". The Independent. Retrieved 3 January 2022.
  14. ^ "WIRED 2.05: DIY Cash". yoz.com.
  15. ^ Sternberg, R.J.; Lubart, T.L. (28 October 1998). "Handbook of Creativity". Cambridge University Press. pp. xi–xii. doi:10.1017/cbo9780511807916.002. ISBN 9780521572859. Retrieved 3 January 2022. {{cite book}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^ Moseley, D; Baumfield, V.; Elliott, J.; Higgins, S.; Miller, J.; Newton, D. (2006). "De Bono's lateral and parallel thinking tools". Frameworks for Thinking A Handbook for Teaching and Learning. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-511-48991-4. OCLC 1229217614.
  17. ^ Rahim, M. Afzalur (2011). Managing conflict in organizations (4th ed.). New Brunswick NJ: Transaction. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-4128-4425-3. OCLC 778434697.
  18. ^ Jeffries, Stuart (10 June 2021). "Edward de Bono obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  19. ^ Thorpe, Vanessa (24 April 2022). "The father of lateral thinking pulls posthumous tricks out of his hat". the Guardian. Retrieved 28 December 2022.
  20. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients". RMIT University. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  21. ^ "Honorary Degrees : Academic & Corporate Governance". University of Dundee.
  22. ^ "(2541) Edebono". Dictionary of Minor Planet Names. Springer. 2003. pp. 207–208. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-29925-7_2542. ISBN 978-3-540-29925-7.

Further reading[edit]

  • Piers Dudgeon: Breaking Out of the Box: The Biography of Edward de Bono. London: Headline, 2001. ISBN 978-0-7472-7142-0

External links[edit]