Parallel thinking is a term coined by Edward de Bono. Parallel thinking is described as a constructive alternative to: "adversarial thinking"; debate; and the approaches exemplified by Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle (whom de Bono refers to as the "Greek gang of three" (GG3)  ). In general parallel thinking is a further development of the well known lateral thinking processes, focusing even more on explorations—looking for what can be rather than for what is.
Parallel thinking is defined as a thinking process where focus is split in specific directions. When done in a group it effectively avoids the consequences of the adversarial approach (as used in courts).
In adversarial debate, the objective is to prove or disprove statements put forward by the parties (normally two). This is also known as the dialectic approach. In Parallel Thinking, practitioners put forward as many statements as possible in several (preferably more than two) parallel tracks. This leads to exploration of a subject where all participants can contribute, in parallel, with knowledge, facts, feelings, etc.
Crucial to the method is that the process is done in a disciplined manner, and that all participants play along and contribute in parallel. Thus each participant must stick to the specific track.
- Edward De Bono, Parallel thinking: from Socratic thinking to de Bono thinking, Viking 1994 ISBN 0-670-85126-4, page x
- David Moseley, Vivienne Baumfield, Julian Elliott, Frameworks for thinking: a handbook for teaching and learning, Cambridge University Press 2005, ISBN 0-521-84831-8, page 135
- Edward de Bono coined the term "The gang of three" to refer to three Greek philosophers: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle - see Guardian article April 24th 2007
- Edward De Bono, Parallel thinking: from Socratic thinking to de Bono thinking, Viking 1994 ISBN 0-670-85126-4, page 36–38