Ed DeBono cuts an interesting figure on stage. He appears on stage at TED wearing an orange tie, market “Dept. of Corrections”. He welcomes us, “Good morning, ladies, gentlemen and blondes.” And then he launches into what feels a good bit like an ad for his services.
He tells us that human thinking is “excellent but limited” – we have old, ineffective software built by the “greek gang of three” – Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. We’re very good at static and scientific thinking, but very poor at human and design affairs. We tend to judge the way forward, not design the way forward, treating problems like a doctor tries to diagnose diseases.
This results from an obsession with argument, which he tells us is an inefficient, ineffective mode of thinking. DeBono advocates parallel thinking, a method which asks everyone in the discussion to take on six points of view in parallel, putting on different “hats” – information, feelings and intuition, caution, benefits, brainstorming and organizational control.
DeBono outlines the benefits of this method in major international corporations, outlining how much time and money each business has saved adopting his method. Somewhere between international oil companies and tension between seven native tribes at a mine, Chris Anderson stops the presentation and invokes a basic rule of TED – no selling from the stage. “Tell us what parallel thinking is!”
DeBono explains that his thinking methods take three days to teach and that it’s unrealistic think that he could explain them in fifteen minutes. From what I can tell of his examples, much of the thinking method has to do with finding ways to see issues from other perspectives. Oh, and the children of China and Venezuela are learning this method.
DeBono is followed by an extraordinary three minute talk from the inimitable Yossi Vardi. Capturing the atmosphere of environmental fear that runs through the conference, Vardi warns us about “local warming”. This is a dangerous phenomenon where male bloggers find themselves causing too much local heat by keeping their laptops on their laps and destroying their (our) ability to reproduce. There are many scrotal jokes, threats to shave live on stage and an unforgettable image of Yossi in his underwear, blogging in bed.