Edward Debono's Lateral Thinking


This program aims to:

1.     Use and practice Lateral Thinking™ in daily life and work situations, using a “user-friendly” practical approach to creative thinking:

Capitalise on the creative energy of the organisation through strategic focuses. These focuses become the “creative hit list” by which the lateral thinking techniques can be applied.

Create alternative focuses as starting points for creative problem solving. This is done by recognising the existence of two types of focuses: general area focus and purpose focus. These two focus types can be used to complement each other to act as catalyst points for new directions in thinking.


2.     Generate creative and innovative ideas through the use of formal thinking tools.

  • Find and build on the concept behind an idea to generate even more ideas.
  • Use challenge to break free from the limits of current ways of operating.
  • Use connected input to open up new lines of thinking.
  • Create provocative statements and use them to generate useful ideas.


Middle and senior managers, and persons involved in the process of generating ideas and alternatives to effect improvement and solution finding in organizations and one’s daily personal life


Classroom and activities


Module 1 : The Need for Creative Thinking

Definition of Lateral Thinking™ : “A way of thinking that seeks a solution to a problem through unorthodox methods or elements that would normally be ignored by logical thinking.” Dr.Edward de Bono distinguishes two types of thinking. He calls one “vertical thinking” that is, using step-by-step logic. He calls the other “lateral thinking” which involves disrupting an apparent normal-thinking sequence and arriving at the solution from another angle.

Developing breakthrough ideas does not have to be the result of chance or inspiration, Dr. de Bono’s Lateral Thinking™ methods provide a deliberate systematic process that will result in innovative thinking. Creativity and innovation happen when we get out of existing paradigms. Lateral Thinking™ allows us to do it.

Creative thinking is not a in-born talent, it is a skill that can be learned. It empowers people by adding strength to their natural abilities which improves teamwork, productivity and profit.

Participants will learn how to focus their creative energy and turn problems into opportunities. Problems and situations are handled with an “out-of-the-box” mentality in order to generate results that are not only new but in certain cases, radical as well. The most important element is that there is a disciplined output of ideas vs. a random subjective inspirational feeling which is obviously unpredictable and cannot be relied upon.

The need for creative thinking will be covered under two main headings :

o    Limits of logical and critical thinking

o    Why creativity is a learnable set of skills

Module 2 : Lateral Thinking™ Techniques


The purpose of this section is to lay out the Lateral Thinking™ techniques as a fast, effective set of tools that can be used to help individuals, companies and teams solve tough problems and create new ideas, products, processes and services.

The various techniques are as listed below :

o    Alternatives: How to use concepts as a breeding ground for new ideas. There is a discipline that is involved in generating alternatives even where there is no apparent need for it. Learn to have a mindset. It is important to know the “fixed point” of alternative generation i.e. alternatives with respect to what. Without this basic “fixed point”, creative efforts will be diluted and you will end up with situations where there are multiple interpretations of the situation.

Module 3 : Lateral Thinking™ Techniques (Continued)

o    Focus: When and how to change your focus and improve your creative efforts. Many creative efforts (eg. suggestion schemes) have failed because the area defined for creative focus is too broad and open-ended. Creative responses are best facilitated when the target effort is as specific as possible. This way of focus is called the “Creative Hit List”. The are two types of focus involved : - General Area Focus - Purpose Focus

o    Challenge: Breaking free from the limits of accepted ways of operating. Challenge involves examining our current thinking against the following checklist : - Dominant idea - Boundaries - Essential factors - Assumptions - Avoidance factors

There is also a separate technique called the “Challenge Flowchart” which base itself on asking the following questions (in sequence) : 1. Can we just cut this ? (Why/C) 2. Are the reasons still valid ? (Why/B) 3. What are the alternatives ? (Why/A)

o    Random Entry: Using unconnected input to open new lines of thinking. The goal is to appreciate the power of the mind (as a self organising system) to start new lines of thoughts (new ideas) from seemingly random inputs. Random Entry is a formal technique and thinking tool that can be invoked on will at any time to generate large quantity of ideas.

There are various ways of obtaining the random word : - Use of a random list card - Random selection of word from a dictionary - Random selection of objects nearby

o    Provocation: Moving from a provocative statement to a useful idea. Value is not in the provocation itself but rather in the movement of where the provocation will lead to. This process is called “movement”.

Introduction of the provocative operator “PO” which will help to answer the question – “What happens next?”. “PO” can be associated with : - Hypothesis - Poetry - Possibility - Suppose

There are four ways to set up the “PO” provocation: 1. Arising 2. Escape 3. Reversal 4. Wishful thinking.

o    Harvesting: Selecting the best of early ideas and reshaping them into practical solutions. Harvesting is about improving the “yield” of the any idea-generation sessions or meetings.

In harvesting a set of ideas generated, it is important to classify the quality and types of output that’s generated in a typical idea-generation meeting. Types of harvesting guidelines include the following “filter” elements : - Specific ideas - Beginning of ideas - Concepts - Approaches - Changes - Flavour.

Module 4 : Making it Happen

The practice of creativity can only take place when a micro-culture of creativity exists within an organisation. In a realistic setting, real change can only happen if any of the following conditions are met : - Commitment from top management - Commitment to start a “pilot” creativity project with documented results - Commitment to train facilitators or champions who will be looked upon to take charge of ensuring the continuity of the “micro-culture” of creativity

In using the Lateral Thinking™ tools, it is important to keep the following in mind : - There is no set order as to which tool is used first - Try a tool out for a short time - If tool is unproductive, quickly move on to another.

The important next steps to take upon completion of this course ought to be taken as follows : 1. Create a “Creative Hit List” individually and also for the department 2. Set aside regular time to tackle the items on the “Creative Hit List” one at a time 3. Practice the techniques both individually and also in a team setting.

Summary points towards ensuring that Lateral Thinking™ remains practical and effective as a creative set of thinking tools :

o    Making creativity an everyday reality

o    Practising the techniques

o    Individual and group applications


Duration 2 days
Member Fee RM 1,590.00
Non-Member Fee RM 1,908.00
SMECorp Funding Yes

Price is inclusive of 6% GST

Course Enquiry

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Dates Venue
No scheduled classes