Edward de Bono

Edward Charles Francis Publius de Bono (19 May 1933 – 9 June 2021)[1] was a Maltese physician, psychologist, author, inventor, philosopher, and consultant. He originated the term lateral thinking, wrote the book Six Thinking Hats, and was a proponent of the teaching of thinking as a subject in schools.[2]

Edward de Bono
Edward de Bono - The Hub Kings Cross 2009 13 (cropped).jpg
De Bono in 2009
Born(1933-05-19)19 May 1933
Died9 June 2021(2021-06-09) (aged 88)
Known forLateral thinking
Spouse(s)Josephine Hall-White m.1971, div.
Children2 sons

Life and careerEdit

Edward Charles Francis Publius de Bono was born in Malta on 19 May 1933.[3] 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 to Christ Church, Oxford, 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, an honorary DDes (Doctor of Design) from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology,[4] and an honorary LLD from the University of Dundee.[5]

De Bono held faculty appointments at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge (where he helped to establish the university's medical school), London and Harvard.[6] He was a professor at Malta, Pretoria, Central England and Dublin City University. De Bono held the Da Vinci Professor of Thinking chair at University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, Arizona, US.[7] He was one of the 27 Ambassadors for the European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009.[8]

The originator of the term 'Lateral Thinking', de Bono wrote 85 books with translations into 46 languages.[6] 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 geo-political 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.

In May 1994, he gave a half-hour Opinions lecture televised on Channel 4 and subsequently published in The Independent as "Thinking Hats On".[9]

In 1995, he created the 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.[6]

In 2005, he was nominated (and reached the shortlist) for the Nobel Prize in Economics.

Schools from over 20 countries have included de Bono's thinking tools into their curriculum,[7] and he has advised and lectured at board level at many of the world's leading corporations.

Convinced that a key way forward for humanity is 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 two parties in a dispute are making insufficient effort to understand the other's perspective.[10]

Asteroid 2541 Edebono discovered by Luboš Kohoutek is named after him.[11]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1971 he married Josephine Hall-White. They had two sons, Caspar and Charlie, and later divorced.[12]

Other ideasEdit

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.[13][14]

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. So IBM might issue "IBM Dollars" – theoretically redeemable for IBM equipment, but also practically tradable for other vouchers or cash. To make such a scheme work, IBM would have to learn to manage the supply of money to ensure that—with too many vouchers chasing too few goods—inflation does not destroy the value of their creations. But companies should be able to manage that trick at least as easily as governments do, particularly as they don’t have voters to cope with.[15]


The following two published critiques of de Bono's work emphasize the lack of evidence to support his proposals.

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.[16]

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.[17]

The views of de Bono on language have been challenged by some philologists (Marco Ferri, 1994) who regard his view of language as the biggest barrier to human progress as superficial. Ferri argues that a lack of human critical judgement should be held responsible for the transmission of out-of-date ideas.[citation needed]

Summarising de Bono's 1985 work in Conflicts: A Better Way to Resolve Them, M. Afzalur Rahim states: "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."[18]

Published worksEdit

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 0-14-013788-2, introduced the term "lateral thinking"
  • New Think (1967, 1968) ISBN 0-380-01426-2
  • The Five-Day Course in Thinking (1968), introduced the L game
  • The Mechanism of the Mind (1969), Intl Center for Creative Thinking 1992 reprint: ISBN 0-14-013787-4
  • Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step, (1970), Harper & Row 1973 paperback: ISBN 0-06-090325-2
  • The Dog-Exercising Machine (1970)
  • Technology Today (1971)
  • Practical Thinking (1971)
  • Lateral Thinking for Management (1971)
  • Po: A Device for Successful Thinking (1972), ISBN 0-671-21338-5, introduced the term Po
  • Children Solve Problems (1972) ISBN 0-14-080323-8, ISBN 0-06-011024-4 (1974 reprint)
  • Po: Beyond Yes and No (1973), ISBN 0-14-021715-0
  • 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 0-399-11762-8
  • 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 Course in Thinking (1982)
  • Learn-To-Think: Coursebook and Instructors Manual with Michael Hewitt-Gleeson de Saint-Arnaud (1982), ISBN 0-88496-199-0
  • 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 0-316-17831-4
  • I Am Right, You Are Wrong: From This to the New Renaissance: From Rock Logic to Water Logic (1968) ISBN 0-670-84231-1
  • Six Action Shoes (1991)
  • Handbook for the Positive Revolution (1991) ISBN 0-14-012679-1
  • Serious Creativity: Using the Power of Lateral Thinking to Create New Ideas (1992) ISBN 0-00-255143-8 – a summation of many of De Bono's ideas on creativity
  • Sur/Petition (1992) ISBN 0-88730-543-1
  • Water Logic: The Alternative to I am right You are Wrong (1993) ISBN 978-1563120374
  • Parallel thinking: from Socratic thinking to de Bono thinking (1994) ISBN 0-670-85126-4
  • Teach Yourself How to Think (1995)
  • Textbook of Wisdom (1996) ISBN 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)
  • How to Have A Beautiful Mind (2004)
  • Six Value Medals (2005)
  • H+ (Plus): A New Religion (2006)
  • How to Have Creative Ideas (2007)
  • Free or Unfree? : Are Americans Really Free? (2007) ISBN 1-59777-544-4
  • Six Frames For Thinking About Information (2008)
  • The Love of Two Cockroaches (2009) ISBN 978-9993261599
  • Think! Before It's Too Late (2009) ISBN 978-0-09-192409-6
  • Lateral Thinking - An Introduction (2014) ISBN 978-0091955021
  • Bonting - Thinking to Create Value (2016) ISBN 978-9995750190
  • Intelligence, Information, Thinking

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

See alsoEdit


  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. Retrieved 16 May 2014. Dr Edward de Bono, lateral thinker, 78
  4. ^ "Honorary Degree Recipients". RMIT University. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  5. ^ Dundee, University of. "Honorary Degrees : Academic & Corporate Governance". University of Dundee.
  6. ^ a b c "Bio at Penguin books". Archived from the original on 19 June 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2013.
  7. ^ a b "About Edward de Bono". Edward de Bono's Personal Web Site. 5 May 2008. Archived from the original on 12 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
  8. ^ European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009 – Europa Archived 20 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Europa.eu. Accessed 2009-05-14.
  9. ^ "Thinking hats on, please: In the first of three essays this week on". The Independent. 2 May 1994.
  10. ^ de Bono, Edward (2000). The de Bono Code Book. p. 52.
  11. ^ "(2541) Edebono". (2541) Edebono In: 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.
  12. ^ Jeffries, Stuart (10 June 2021). "Edward de Bono obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 June 2021.
  13. ^ Lloyd, J & Mitchinson, J: "The Book of General Ignorance". Faber & Faber, 2006.
  14. ^ Louise Jury De Bono's Marmite plan for peace in Middle Yeast, The Independent, 19 December 1999, retrieved 11 February 2009.
  15. ^ "WIRED 2.05: DIY Cash". yoz.com.
  16. ^ Sternberg, R. J. & Lubart, T. L. (1999). "The Concept of Creativity", in ed. Sternberg, R. J.: Handbook of Creativity. Cambridge University Press.
  17. ^ Moseley, D., Baumfield, V., Elliott, J., Gregson, M., Higgins, S., Miller, J., Newton, D. (2005). "De Bono's lateral and parallel thinking tools", in ed. Moseley, David: Frameworks for Thinking. Cambridge University Press.
  18. ^ Rahim, M. Afzalur (2015). Managing Conflict in Organizations (4 ed.). Transaction Publishers. p. 12. ISBN 9781412844253. Retrieved 30 January 2015. 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.

Further readingEdit

  • Piers Dudgeon: Breaking Out of the Box: The Biography of Edward de Bono. London: Headline, 2001. ISBN 0-7472-7142-9

External linksEdit