De Bono’s Thinking Course



1. Thinking is a matter of intelligence.  Intelligence is determined by the genes.


2. Thinking is a skill that can be improved by training.


You need skill to drive a fast car.


Critical Thinking::::::::::::::::::::::::::


Six brilliantly trained critical thinkers sitting around a table cannot get going until someone actually puts forward a constructive proposal.


Critical thinking does have a part to play because if you know your hypothesis is going to be criticized you seek to make it stronger.


But critical destruction of an idea never produced a stronger one.



If the perception is poor then good logic will give you a faulty answer.




I once asked seventy very bright young adults to write an essay on the suggestion that marriage be a renewable  five year contract. Sixty Seven of them wrote their opinion of the idea in the first sentence of their essay and then used the rest of the essay to support that opinion.  There was no exploration of the subject other than to back up an already formed opinion.


P = Plus or the good points


M = Minus or the bad points


I = Interesting or the interesting points.


How about writing on each student receiving money each week for going to school.


At first it sounds good.  But after PMI.


[How would it change the world to have aliens come here?]


Do a PMI on all cars being painted yellow.



A simple phrase that is useful is: “It would be interesting to see if…”


Finally the “I” trains the mind to react to the interest inherent in an idea and not just to judgment feelings about the idea.  A thinker should be able to say: “I do not like your idea but there are these “interesting aspects to it…”  This is helpful.




You can ask someone to “do a PMI” when that person has summarily dismissed your suggestion as valueless.


Two Steps::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

The first step is deliberately to carry out the PMI operation.  The second step is to observe and react to what has been turned up by the PMI scan.




1. What do you think of the suggestion that everyone should wear a badge showing his or her mood?

2.  Should every child adopt a senior citizen to look after?

3.  Are weekend prisons for young offenders a good idea?

4. Should everyone be allowed to indeicatewhere they would like their taxes spent?

5. Should VCRs contain a special chip that does not permit violent videos to be shown?

6. Should cars be banned from city centers.




The mind wants to recognize and identify with certainty as soon as possible.  Certainty of recognition means that action can be taken.  A group of alternatives means that no action can yet be taken.  Alternatives suggest confusion.


A good doctor is unsure.  Would you prefer one who rushed in, came to a rapid diagnosis and insisted he was right and would not think otherwise.  Or one who generated as many possible alternatives as he could before deciding.


The great confidence of the first doctor would equally apply when he was making a terrible mistake.


APC is Alternatives, Possibilities; Choices.


Easy Alternatives:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::







What is it? 

Two helium balloons?

Donuts on a stick

Lifesavers on a stick




Ends of long tubes

Dead roller skate

Overhead of two folks frying eggs.


The APC:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::


Don’t distinguish Alternatives, Possibilities or Choices.

A person is pouring cans of beer into a gas tank.  APC it.




Although men seem to be smoking less, women seem to be smoking more.

Why might this be? APC it.



The best definition of a problem can only be reached by finding the solution and then working backwards to the definition.  But we can also look for alternative definitions of the problem.



Do an APC on the packaging of chocolate bars.



When you are using alternatives which lie within the same general approach and when you really are using a totally different  approach.


Do an APC on the design of a telephone.































Yet very often, difficulty in making a decision stems from a failure to produce sufficient alternatives. 


A competitor undercuts the price of rolls of toilet paper your company is selling.  You are asked to decide whether you should lower prices to match his.  Do an APC on the alternatives.


Course of Action::::::::::::::::

If there are two alternatives take the third.




Science fiction performs a useful function in this respect.  Do an APC on possible future scenarios for the entertainment industry.


Exercises for APC


1. A person who is usually punctual starts to be late.  What are some alternative explanations?


2. There is a sudden rise in the number of burglaries.  Give some possible explanations?


3. A new antique shops opens up across the street from your antique shop.  What action alternatives should you consider?


4. You have a long drive to work.  The roads are getting more and more crowded.  What action alternatives could you consider?


5. You want to help discourage young people from smoking.  What alternative approaches could you consider?


6. Give some alternative approaches to dealing with a school bully.




The main purpose of thinking is to abolish thinking.  The mind works to make sense out of confusion and uncertainty. 



Perception is the way we look at things.  Processing is what we do with that perception. 


-----The first is that it does not matter where you start (i.e., your perception) because if your thinking is good enough you will reach the right answer. 


-----The second is that from within the situation, through the use of further processing, you can tell where you ought to have started. 


----The third is that the traditional perception is sufficient because it has evolved through trial and error over time.


Oil vinegar thing, prove  that adding odd numbers at one you will always get a square:


1 + 3 = 4

1 + 3 + 5 = 9


How Patterns are Formed:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::


Our analysis of  the situation alters it.  Second opinions fall near where the first one does.  If you start thinking of telephones as political weapons, they will all start to take that sort of thing.



The mind is good at recognizing whole patterns, such as faces, letters or words.  It is also extremely good at abstracting or pulling out hidden patterns.  If you take eight random objects an dput their names down as a list there is a very high likelihood that an observer would be able to divide those words into two groups of four by abstracting some pattern.


Dog, umbrella, fish, car, toothpaste, desk, hat, money.



“lumpers” are those people who tend to group things together by focusing on common features.  “Splitters” are those people who tend to separate things out by focusing on points of  differences.



There are really two sorts of analysis.  In the first sort we strive to break a complex situation into familiar and recognizable patterns.  We suppose that these elements have actually come together to produce the situation.  They are compliments.


The second type of analysis is more like explanation.  We look to see what familiar patterns we can recognize in the situation but never suppose that they are the actual components of the situation.



In education the pattern is that it is enough  to provide information and then allow the mind to acquire thinking habits as it deals with that information.

In politics it is the adversary system in which opposing parties claim the rightness.


As an exercise, try to pick out the basic patterns that prevail in the following areas: TV advertising, industrial relations, newspapers, vacation travel, house purchase and wearing jeans.




Tech moves fast, but social ideals progress slowly.


Pattern changing::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

The brain is a marvelous system for creating and using patterns.  The main purpose of the brain is to be remarkably uncreative.


Humor involves the escape from one pattern and the switching into another.

Bob Hope got only three golf clubs for Christmas.  And only one had a pool.


Hindsight and Insight:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

In hindsight any creative idea must be logical – otherwise we could never accept it as having value.  The mistake we make is to assume that since it is logical in hindsight then the better exercise of logic could have gotten us there in the first place.


Creativity and Lateral Thinking::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

If a youngster of about nine is given a problem he may well come up with a highly creative solution since he is not trapped within the conventional approach.


Lateral thinking can be precisely defined as pattern switching within a patterning system.


Grandma is knitting and young Susie is disturbing Grandma by playing with the ball of wool.  The father says to put Susie in the playpen.  Mom suggests putting Grandma in it.


Lateral Thinking as Process::::::::::::::::::::::


No one has ever called a new idea which he or she did not personally like “creative”.  Lateral thinking is neutral.


Intelligent people tend to be conformists.  They learn the rules of the game and play it. 

Creativity is then left to the rebels who cannot or will not play by the rules. 


In judgment mode, when we come to an idea which is wrong we condemn it and back away.  In the movement idiom, we use the idea  for its “movement value”.


The paradox is that if we treat creativity (lateral thinking) as a perfectly sober part of information processing then we may get the strange effect of the conformists being more creative than the rebels.


The Word “po”::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::;;

As in hypothesis, suppose, possibility and poetry.  It can also be thought of as standing for “Provocative Operation.”


There may not be a reason for saying something until it has been said.


The Stepping Stone Method:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::


The center parking is too crowded.  Without parking meters how do you reduce it?  Have folks leave their headlights on.


Po airplanes fly upside down. 

This is a form of deliberate provocation: the reversal.  Others are exaggeration, distortion, wishful thinking and the outrageous.


1. Po cups are made of ice.

2. PO you only dial one digit on a phone.

3. Po you get paid for taking a bus.

4. Po there are school examinations every day.

5. Po fat people get paid more.

6. Po paper goes black after one week.


The Escape Method::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Identify those things we take for granted in a situation. 

For example, if we were looking at telephone booths we might “take for granted” that they are all the same price. 

Suppose we put two telephones in a booth. 

As an exercise try to identify some pattern we take for granted about: a car steering wheel, voting in an election, book publishing, checks, a frying pan and traffic lights. 

Make an attempt to escape from that pattern and then follow along to see what benefit or interest arises from your escape.


1. Po car steering wheels do not move.

2. Po drinking glasses have no bottoms.

3. Po restaurants do not serve food.

4. Po classrooms have no teachers.

5. Po doors have no handles.


So we went from the finding what is assumed to okay lets po the opposite.


The Random Simulation Method::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::


You can get a random word by specifying a page number in a dictionary and then the position of the word on the page.  Now go to the nearest noun.


Take a problem:  There are not enough schools for the kids.

Then find a random word.  How does one shed light on the other?


If I dropped you anywhere in LA you would eventually find your way home. 




The Logic of Lateral Thinking:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

If we consider the behavior of self-organizing patterning systems in perception then the logic of lateral thinking follows.  Lateral thinking is quite logical in the universe of patterning systems.  We need methods for cutting across patterns instead of just moving up and down them.




There is one being who cannot think and cannot have a sense of humor- God.


He knows the punch line and cannot be surprised.  Thinking involves going from one state of knowledge to a better one.


In education we try to approach the god-like state of complete information.  That gets harder and harder as there is more and more information to absorb. 


Since we cannot have complete information we need to think of processing to draw conclusions and spend less time on trying to get all raw information.



There is one area in which we can never have complete information: the future.


Education is essentially about the past.  Sorting reviewing, describing and absorbing existing knowledge.  The theory is that once you have it decision and action are easy and obvious. 

But doing requires priorities, consequences and other operacy skills.

Operacy for the skills of doing are like literacy and numeracy.



Consider all features. 


There is no attempt to evaluate with a CAF.  For example do a CAF on buying a second hand car, buying a carpet, painting a room, buying a book as a present; choosing a newspaper; designing a TV program; choosing and item on a menu.  CHOOSING A CARREER.  Planning a birthday party; designing a better chair; Writing a detective story; giving a present; choosing a pet.


C & S::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Consequence and Sequel.

Four time sequels are suggested: immediate consequences up to 1 year;  Short term from 1 to 5 years; medium-term from 5 to 20 years; long-term over 20 years.  These can be varied.


C & S on a major breakthrough in solar technology.

All school exams are abolished.

Everyone shared a job with one other person.

Gasoline became extremely expensive.

Life was discovered in space.

An anti-gravity machine became possible.

Marriages only lasted five years.


Dense Reading and Dense Listening:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

A good listener listens slowly to what is being said.  He does not jump ahead nor does he rush to judge nor does he sit there formulating his own reply.  He hears by looking between the words used and wondering why something has been expressed in a particular way.  It is active listening because the listener’s imagination is full of “could be” and “may be” elaborations.


Dense reading is like dense listening.  The reader reads between the lines and considers all the implications of what has been read.


It seems that there are a lot of shoe stores in Barcelona:


What might that mean?



Logic is a way of generating information.  It is a way of extracting more information from what is available. 

You can also explore the relationships that occur in an information universe.


Getting more information:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Getting more information from outside can involve three things: use of information sources; questions; experiment.



The skilled use of questions is the lawyer’s main tool.  Broadly speaking , questions fall into two types. 

First, there is the “shooting question” (SQ) in which we know exactly what we are aiming at.  We want a yes no answer.  It is a lawyer thing.


Then there are “fishing Questions” (FQ) we dangle the bait in the water and wait to see what we catch..  “Where did you go, yesterday?”    You don’t know what the answer might be.  Fishing questions are used to open up a situation.


It should be open.  What did you do yesterday?  Is more open than where did you go yesterday?


For each of the following situations suggest two SQs and two FQs.


Finding out whether someone enjoyed a holiday

Seeking out a new place to eat.

Finding out what someone likes to do

Finding out why someone seems suddenly to have a lot of money

Asking someone about a road accident in which two cars collided.

Deciding to buy a new camera.


Selecting Information:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

                The problems set so neatly in math books provide all the information that is needed.  The student is encouraged to use all the information supplied.  Life, however, is never as neat as that.  Sometimes there is not enough information to solve the problem.  Sometimes, too much. 




InFormation In and inFormation Out.

It is a deliberate survey of what is already available and that which is still required.

The information you have and its implications are info-in.

Now we look for what information we do not have.  It is info-out.


Choosing a new place to go for information.

Borrowing money to buy a house.

Deciding whether to take a language course

Sharing a tent with someone.





Western Civilization in its philosophy and practice has been obsessed with the “clash” system in which two opposing view fight it out.


Each point of view grows ever more rigid and unable to develop in such a situation.  The need to attack and defend precludes more useful thinking.  In order to think about change you must first attack the other side. 

Each side spends so much time destroying that the credibility of both is destroyed.


Preserving Catholicism meant forever attacking heresies.


In recent years the London Times declared that what many believe the purpose of education is to foster critical thinking.  They forget that criticism only happens after someone else came up with an idea.


It is attractive cause it makes you look good  and smart to destroy another.  Proving the other wrong somehow  proves us right.  This was true with medieval theology.


In idea may be 90% right and 10% wrong.  So what do our great thinkers do?  They jump on the wrong 10%.  Whomever thought up the 90% must have been an idiot.



Exlectics seek to “lead out” or “pull out” of the situation what is of value no matter which side it is to be found.


It is much more than compromise or consensus.  Compromise is still within the clash system and suggests that both sides give up something in order to gain something.  Consensus means staying with that part of a proposal on which everyone is agreed; it is passive and a lowest common denominator type of approach.


Exlectics doesn’t deal with “views” but with “terrains”.


Examine Both Sides

On the whole a feeble and offhand attempt is made to examine the other side –

For feat that too good a look will dilute the fervor with which one’s own view is held.


Doing an EBS is – up to a point – not unlike doing a thorough  reconnaissance of the enemy’s terrain.


1. Should smoking be banned in all public places?

2. Compulsory national community service for all young people.

3. Raising income tax.

4. Putting a high tax on cats and dogs.

5. Raising school leaving age to 18 years.

6. Housewives to be paid for their work.



Agreement, Disagreement and Irrelevance.

The two sides are compared and we look for common agreement and note it. 

Then the areas of disagreement are noted;  Finally areas of irrelevance are noted.


Often this neutral exercise shows that folks agree a lot.


1. A neighbor plays music too loudly late at night.

2. Workers want a pay raise but management says this would raise prices too much.

3.  A new road is to be built through a beautiful country spot.

4. A 17 year old girl wants to come home at night whenever she wants.

5. Producers want to put more violence into films.

6. Fees are to be doubled for parking in the wrong place.


Logic –Bubbles:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

If someone does not agree there are several possible attitudes we take, obstinate pig.


Perhaps he is highly intelligent and acting intelligently within his own logic-bubble.

His logic bubble happens to be different from yours.


Don’t think about how stupid they are (you cannot change that).  But think of the circumstances in which the behavior is logical.


Management always regards motivation as vital.  But motivation depends on the logic bubble.


A gossip columnist finds a juicy about her friend.




Other People’s Views.

There are two parts to this exercise.  The first involves identification of the other people who are part of the situation.


The second part involves getting into the shoes of those other people. 


A strike at a car factory.





Union officials……….



This does not mean putting complains that are irrational into their mouths so you can belittle them. 


OPV these:

A child is dismissed from school for bullying.

A woman accuses her employers of discriminating against her because she is a woman.

A government official wants to retract a confidential piece of information she gave an newspaper person.


The sales manager of a publicly owned company is told that doing bribery in a particular country is necessary for business.

Youngsters want to smoke.

A big store is built just outside a small country town.


Constructive design:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

It may be that the map will reveal that the other party is not interested in solving the dispute at all since the very existence of the dispute is of value to them. 


After the mapping process you may go for a solution.


Constructive design:  = solution


Constructive design is no different from constructive design in any other area: furniture, aircraft, TV play or meal.  What are the ingredients?  What is to be achieved?  What are the constraints?  Rejections and growth are expected.



An important part of negotiation is realizing that there are variable values.  What maybe really important to one person may not be important to another.  Water front versus, top of the hill property.


What one party wants very much may not cost others much.  We drive slow to reduce traffic death. 




If all the learned economists argue about inflation to the point that the onlooker can only assume they know very little about it, then how is the voter, himself, going to figure out the economic basis for his vote?


Thinking is limited, but it is primary before gut feeling.                          hr


Emotions at Three Points::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

The figures below show three ways that emotion can interact with perception: Before, during and after. 

Before is like blind rage or panic.  We are emotional first. Jealousy aggression or hatred are here.


The second is the most usual.  Perception shows a pattern and then emotion kicks in.


Third is that we have a calm exploration of the situation and then at the end emotions make the final choice check or confirm it.   


In all we usually have s short perception phase then interpret and skip the thinking.


Changing Feelings:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Consider a man who is having an argument with a woman who is in tears.  The man feels that he is a bully and is about to concede some points.    Then a friend whispers in his ears that he is being manipulated by the woman.  His emotions change quickly.


Perception is different between pro diversity forces and pro American forces.



Values are the link between events andour basic emotions.

Values are the most important ingredient in civilization.  It is by means of values that civilization turns selfish, greedy, aggressive behavior into social cooperation.


--Me-values: Ego, status, self-importance, achievement, survival, pleasure, self-indulgence, etc.


--Mates- values:  Being accepted by the group, belonging to the group, acting as a member of the group, accepting the values of them, and not letting them down. 


--Moral-values:  Religious values, social custom, general observance of the law, upbringing values, general values of a a particular culture (often regarded as absolute but varying much from culture to culture).


--Mankind-values: (relatively new) ecology, pollution, concern with nuclear power, ageneral concern for the earth, human rights and basic human values that transcend culture.


HV and LV::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

High values and Low values.

Usually low ones are the ones which determine action and the low values are the ones which have to be taken into account.


Sometimes decisions involve both types of values.  The company requires it, but sacking a friend sucks (loyalty).


Informing can be an evil at one time and not at another.

Me values, mates values, moral values.





Which is High and which Low?


Value-laden Words::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::


Three-quarters of our public thinking is no more than an attempt to drag in value laden words as quickly as possible.


There are goodie words: fair play, freedom, consistency, human rights, sincere etc.

There are more baddie words.  Obstinate, sly, cunning, clever, deceitful, well-meaning, superficial, small minded etc.



Use OPV and HV and LV on the following:

An inventor designs a loom that is three times as fast as existing ones.

An employee who knows that his boss takes bribes, but also has a high regard for the employee;  Public transit strikes; a doctory who charges very high fees for a life-saving operation;

A government that abolishes patents on drugs within its borders.



We are only called upon to make decisions when an analysis of the information is insufficient.

That is when we have to speculate, guess or apply human values.


  1. Deciding between a highly paid job that is boring and a low paid job that is exciting.
  2. Deciding between a new restaurant and one that you know very well.
  3. Deciding what type of car to buy.
  4. Deciding where to live.
  5. Deciding what color to paint the living room.
  6. Deciding whether or not to give a party.


Decision Preframe::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::


What is the situation?  Calm, panic, conflict, competitive, pressure or what?

What is the time frame of the decision?  This applies to the decision (when must it be made by) and when will the effects of the decision be known?


Generation of Alternatives::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Values and Priorities:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

These can be spelled out in advance.  Priorities may sometimes appear as values and sometimes as sub-objectives.


The Dice Method:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Toss die (if all roads are good).

A new pair of shoes

a visit to the theater,

a meal in a restaurant with a friend,

six books of your choice,

three hours in a lime,

a Polaroid camera.


Toss a die and see if you’re happy with the results.


The Easy Way Out:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::;;;

What is the easiest alternative to choose?


A girl finds that her boyfriend has asked her best friend to go out with him.  What shall she do?

  1. Ignore it completely
  2. Ask him about it.
  3. have an argument with him.
  4. Threaten her friend
  5. Go out with someone else.


The easy way out depends on your character.  One may be simple for you  and not another person.


The Spell-out Method:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::


Here the decider imagines that he has chosen each alternative in turn.  In each case he imagines that he is describing to a friend why he has made that decision.


At your office you are offered:

1. More money

2. A shorter work week

3. Longer vacation

4. More time off when required.


Burden’s Ass::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::;;

The mythical ass was placed equidistance between two hay stacks.


When the alternatives are equally appealing the choice should be easy. 


The difficulty lies in giving up the an attractive alternative.


The burden’s ass method says that you knock off decisions.  The easiest only to knock off gets gone.


1. To be very wise.

2. To be very rich.

3. To be very beautiful.

4. To be a talented artist.


If wise all others are foolish; you may become aware of misery.

Rich people don’t know who their friends are.

Beautiful people worry about losing it.

An unrecognized artist is hard to be.


The ideal Solution Method::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::;

The general shape of the ideal solution is considered.  Then the alternatives are judged for closeness to the ideal.  Consider externalities.


  1. Parking lot
  2. More houses
  3. Park
  4. Playground
  5. Outdoor fleamarket


These alternatives are put on one side and there is a discussion about the general shape of the ideal solution.  It is agreed that it should benefit most people and directly make life more pleasant.


The Best Home Method:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::;

This is to ask in which setting the ideal would best thrive.  Then you can decide if your situation fits this description.


The “What if…? Method:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::


A husband is offered a job he has always wanted two hundred miles away.  The kids are grown up.  The wife, it doesn’t seem will also find a suitable job.


Generate alternatives:

Turn down the offer.

Accept the offer and meet at weekends.

Wife gives up job and moves.

Accept it and then resign later if necessary.


What ifs:

What if the job is not as attractive as it seems.

What if while separated either meets another lover?

What if either falls ill?

What if it had been the wife who had the job offer?

What if a better job in the same place was possible for either?

What if the wife did find a new great job in the new area?


Then focus on the most important or realistic ones.


The Simple Matrix Method (elimination method) ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::


You are going to get a car.


On the top list the qualities you are looking for.

Price, running cost, reliability.

One the left (y axis) put alternatives: repair old one, new car, second hand, lease, hire.

Then check stuff off. 


Some are eliminated.  Then you can make another matrix with more details and eliminate again.


The Laziness Method:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

FGL method (fear, greed, laziness)


A son or daughter has to decide what to do with an elder parent that needs help.

1. leave things as they are.

2. Place her in an old folk’s home.

3. Have her come and live with their family

4. Pay someone to look after her.


Which is the laziest?


Decision Postframe::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Personal style and self image are important here.

What are the stages of implementation?  What are the likely problems and sticking points?  What are the risks and danger? 

Finally ,is there a fall back option?  What if the decision proves to be wrong?  What if situations change?  Can it be reversed? 


PMI, C & S, OPV and CAF can also be applied.




Comically, our culture says doers don’t think and thinkers don’t do.  Academics.



The idiom of education says that if you get enough info action  is the easy part.  It isn’t.  The skills of action are very important. 


Operacy is a combination of operate and operational.  Operacy: the skills needed for doing.  This includes thinking (like setting objectives). 


The target T can be done on a channel of routines to guide the ball down hill.

Or management by objectives.

Others just let the target dictate all actions even against routine.

Others just act and assume a target will emerge.



Youngsters find it hard to think in terms of objectives.  Perhaps because their lives are organized for them.


AGO stands for Aims, Goals and Objectives.  Ignore the differences in the words.


Find them in:


  1. Setting up a small business.  First year’s objectives.
  2. A newspaper cuts its price very sharply.  What might be the objectives behind this?

3. What should be the aims of the police in dealing with juvinile crime?

4. What are the aims of a school?

5. In tackling a big fire what might be the objectives of the fire chief?

6. What are the goals of a journalist?



They may be far or near.  They may be wide or narrow. 

In the L game one strategy is to “work backwards” from the winning position.  Then the opponent learns to keep out of corners.

If we wanted to get to Compton.  We might find out where it is and work backwards.


We might start our school project by asking what the components of a perfect society are.



1) The terrain. 

This terrain is in the future.

2) People.

Will they help or hinder you?  What variables must we consider here?

3) Risks

The actions of competitors and governments can only be guessed.  Will inflation happen?  What could we lose by this decision?


Legal, regulatory, time, price.

5) Resources

People, money, time, effort, motivation, technical know-how, goodwill, market position.

Resources provide the energy for the action.



A competent thinker should be able to direct his thinking to any aspect of a subject or any subject.



Focusing our thinking is one of th hardest things to achieve.  The mind loves to wander off along interesting alleys that open up.  There is room, but this hopeful drifting should not become the dominant idiom.


Set out to do a PMI or OPV and then do it.


Just as in questioning, we may have a very specific or a general focus.



Arrogance kills thinking.



There are boring discussions in which  each party is just putting across a certain point of view.  There are enjoyable ones in which both are exploring and both leave with new ideas.


Thinking clubs should be enjoyable.  Not just solemn and serious.  What would happen if’s are really fun.



Having eh self-image of “I am a thinker” spurs thinking itself. 


Time Discipline::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Two to four minutes are allowed for thinking about an item.  With practice, even thirty seconds of thinking is a great deal of time.



There are several important harvests.  Not everything must end in “the solution”.


Perhaps a point has become more clear?  Perhaps some idea has been identified as a blocking idea?  Perhaps there is an actual suggestion.  Perhaps some alternatives have been spelled out. Perhaps we have more questions.


As an exercise spend 30 seconds on the following. 


Buses,   paying taxes,    manners,     the weather,      Christmas,      a watch,    rabbits


Then harvest one.  What type of a harvest is it?


Thinking about thinking::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Skilled thinkers can think about things and think about their thinking. 

Ask students, what was your approach to thinking about that?


The following areas of observation may come to mind:

Blockages;    the recurrence of certain ideas;      emotional points;     possible difficulties in generating more alternatives;    blank spots;    other ways of looking at things;     the likelihood of a conclusion;  the identification of any sticking points;     difficulties in getting going (finding a starting point etc.)



T stands for Target.


What is the target of the discussion?  Is it to find an improvement?  Is it to find a fault and correct it?  Is it problem solving.  It may be problem finding.  It may be creative, how could heels be used?


You may do a C & S or AGO


E stands for expand and explore

This is the opening-up phase.  We could use lateral thinking techniques like the random word or provocation.  We could do a CAF and consider all factors.  We could scan our experience.  We could analyze the situation.  We could try to abstract familiar patterns.


This part may be wandering.  No judgment. 


C stands for Contract or Conclude

This may be a solution, a creative idea an alternative or an opinion.


There are three levels at which the conclusion may be set.

1. a specific answer.

2. a full harvesting of all that has been achieved.  An example might be all the ideas that have been considered.

3. An objective look at the “thinking” that has been used.


The Five Minute Think:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

1 minute: Target and Task

2 minutes: Expand and Explore

3 minutes: Contract and Conclude


---Target and Task (1 minute)


---Expand and explore (2 minutes)


---Contract and Conclude (2 minutes)


---Overview of thinking: problem finding and problem solving (long follow up)

                Focus on one particular problem

                Imagining an ideal solution and then try to make it practical.

                Focus on a deficiency of the idea

                Find away around the deficiency


If there is rush then the target has been made too wide.  You can also repeat a 5 minute with the same topic.


TEC Exercises:


1.        Make school more interesting

2.        increasing unemployment

3.        Reducing burglaries

4.        making people pollution conscious

5.        making new friends

6.        inventing a new type of party




----P stands for Purpose

What is the purpose of thinking?  What is the end product?  Why is thinking being done?


-----I stands for Input

Here CAF, C&S, OPV can be used.  This is similar to E of TEC


-----S stands for solutions

Concrete alternatives.  Doesn’t need a problem.

It is a narrowing down like the C in TEC


------C stands for choice

Like decision.  We narrow the alternatives to a solution


------ O stands for operation

This is the action stage.

What are the steps to be taken?  How is the matter to be staged?


PISCO these!


  1. Cleaning up the streets
  2. The care of old people
  3. Raising money for charity
  4. Planning a holiday
  5. Designing a poster for a play
  6. Setting up a “thinking” club



TEC is more the general framework.  PISCO spreads the stages out.  This is helpful if there really is a problem to be thought about.


Deliberate Practice of Thinking::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Skiers ski because they enjoy skiing.  If you only practice swimming when you are drowning……No you swim for enjoyment.


There can be an awkward stage in which nothing much seems to be happening and little progress is made.  In thinking this is the stage when thinking is still attached to the ego and the thinker wants to prove herself right and wants to solve all the problems of the world at every thinking session.


General Thinking Skills::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

The sort of habits that might eventually become a part of a person’s general thinking skills might include the following.





We need to encourage the self-image of “I am a thinker.”

We also need to appreciate the domination of western thinking habits by the negative idiom: clash, criticism and dialectics.


We must put emotions, feelings and values in their proper perspective.


1) At times it has been necessary to create new words to focus better upon a concept.

“Lateral thinking”, “po”, “movement value”, “Logic-bubble”, “Operacy”. 

These ought to be part of the language because without new words we cannot “hold” new concepts.


2) Then there are descriptive phrases.  “intelligence trap” “everest effect” “villiage venus effect”  “shooting and fishing questions” “dense reading” “decision preframe and postframe”


3) There are specific tools.  “The attention directing techniques”  PMI, CAF C&S, AGO, OPV HV and LV.




It would not be much good if we only practiced swimming when we were about to drown.  Thinking only when we are forced to is no good.




“Cash value”  how much would you give up to be a part of it?

The cost of cigarettes for a week?  A movie cost?  Diner?

The second test of motivation is that of “priority value”


Type of thinking::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Humor should play an important role.  There is no reason at all why thinking  should be solemn and humorless.


Thoughts should be expressed In as clear a manner as possible.  Being complicated for the sake of being complicated is to be condemned.


Arrogance is the major sin.


The club exists for the fun and exercise of thinking.  Let the egos go.



1. Learning basic thinking skills

2. Practice of these skills

3. Application of these skils


Later on, when the skills have been developed, you can apply them to specific problems and tasks.  These may be current issues, personal problems design of businesses and others.  A particular book, article or television program might become the subject of focused thinking.


Formality and Discipline:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Since there are no right ideas, there must be very firm discipline and structure. 

Without them drift babble and mess happen.  Like when you train for ballet.


If a problem is to be thought about for three minutes then at the end of that three minutes a bell is rung WE ARE DONE.


Discipline and ritual are a good substitute for enthusiasm.  Discipline keeps things going when the initial enthusiasm wanes.



There should be 6 people (they can break into two groups)

The organizer delegates: time keeper, notetaker, and communicator.


The timekeeper is accurate and ruthless.

Sloppiness in timekeeping will eventually lead to sloppiness and lack of focus.


Every two weeks is the best frequency.  Once a week is too much.   Once a month is too infrequent.  The first four meetings should not last for more than one hour.  The next four one and a holf hours.  Two hours thereafter is good.



There is a great temptation to try to do too much at first.  This usually results in arguments.

Keep a balance between serious and fun subjects.

Fun  and remote topics are better than serious for practice.  Three to one.


First meeting agenda::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

PMI people should wear badges that show their moods.

Instead of barking, watchdogs should be trained to quietly push a button.

“On leaving school every youngster should spend a year doing “national service”.

At elections everyone should have two votes and one of these can be used negatively to cancel a vot for a disliked candidate.


There is a discussion on :

The value of doing PMI

When would a PMI be most useful?

The dangers of doing a PMI.

Whether the formality of the PMI seems strange at first.

Whether the strict, and short, time seems awkward at first.

The difficulty of the “interesting” part of PMI.


Second Session::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::


Early one morning a woman is seen burying three red socks in the garden, each sock in a separate hole.  What explanations could there be.


Find different ways of measuring the total amount of fluid which a person drinks in twenty-four hours.

Find alternative ways of saving energy either in the house or in general.  This refers to the sort of energy that has to be paid for.

A father finds his son has sold the family car to pay for debts.  He knows who bought it.

Find alternatives that could perform same function as ladder, cup, dog, key , window.

Alternative approaches to the problem of the increase in street crime. (note this doesn’t mean solution.  It involves a way of tackling or looking at the problem.


APC Discussion::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

When do we look for alternatives and when do we not?

What are the dangers in always looking for alternatives?

Why is it sometimes difficult to find alternatives?

Should all alternatives be listed, even the unlikely ones?

How broadly should alternatives be grouped.

Are all the alternatives in the same direction or each in a different direction?


Things to avoid:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Experience has shown that the following things tend to wreck thinking club sessions – even the ones that seem attractive.






Look for meaning of life assumptions.  Also PMI the meanings of life.

Pg 96 on the Japanese internment camps.

Ask on other OPVs who would care/be effected?  Then how would they be effected.  What are their concerns?

An unexamined life is not worth living.  What are some criteria of lives you’d choose?

Give one group bubble cluster, one what if?; one tie it to goals; one assumptions; questions plus; minus, interest.

Solution to crime: but find WOL Ways of Looking at it.

Each must get a newspaper story and make a poster.  It should also explain the story.  For life skills!