Books by Edward de Bono

Released: Dec. 1, 1991

A deceptively simple but consistently provocative appeal for perceptual (as opposed to structured) thinking from the author of Six Action Shoes (the trifle reviewed below), Tactics (1984), and several other works dealing with powers of the mind. As before, de Bono (an M.D. who no longer practices) challenges traditional Western thought processes on grounds that they are unequal to the task of solving the Global Village's many pressing problems. According to the author, orthodox methods of thinking are based on absolutes, a rigid insistence on facts, and other unproductive habits dating back to an ancient time when truth seekers like Aristotle relied on reason or its corollaries (analysis, logic, etc.) to free themselves from the bonds of dogma. While essentially adversarial methods are fine for achieving technological gains or winning arguments, de Bono says, such systems lack the originality and creativity required to deal with socioeconomic as well as political affairs. Describing the human brain as a self-organizing marvel, the author makes a strong case for what he calls ``water logic,'' a purportedly natural activity of the physical organ's neural network. By de Bono's account, water logic represents a fluid approach that provides the basis for new ideas, humor, insights, poetry, and other of civilization's more fruitful pleasures. On occasion, de Bono can be decidedly arbitrary in advancing his theories. Without much supporting evidence, for example, he dismisses language as a trap and characterizes humor as the intellect's most significant behavior (owning mainly to its asymmetry). In aid of breakthrough conjecture, however, the author is never less than thought-provoking, and his witty, allusive text is notable for its wealth of illuminating digressions. An offbeat treatise that charts a course out of the mainstream and along the varied routes that, perhaps, lead to unconventional wisdom. Read full book review >
SIX ACTION SHOES by Edward de Bono
Released: Nov. 15, 1991

A gimmicky guide to taking effective action. It's difficult to believe that the author of the substantive inquiry into creative thought reviewed above could also be responsible for the sketchy, lightweight tract at hand. Be that as it may, de Bono (who with evident satisfaction admits to having completed the manuscript on a flight from London to Auckland) offers a simplistic footwear framework designed to help individuals take appropriate control under varying circumstances. As in his Six Thinking Hats (1986), he focuses on a half-dozen alternatives that supposedly can be mixed and/or matched. In ascending order of complexity, the possibilities encompass: ``Navy Formal Shoes'' (for routine drills or procedures); ``Grey Sneakers'' (information gathering, research); ``Brown Brogues'' (hard work, frequently requiring street smarts or initiative); ``Orange Gumboots'' (emergency actions in which safety may be a prime concern); ``Pink Slippers'' (compassion, sensitivity to human needs); and ``Purple Riding Boots'' (official authority). Whatever the merits of these toehold paradigms, the author is not putting his best foot forward. On the printed page, in fact, his sole-mates are exposed as little more than antic conceits likelier to lead to derision than productive performance. At one stage, he has an apocryphal corporate executive faced with the necessity of firing a loyal and longtime employee enjoin a subordinate to: ``Put on your pink slippers, and deal with the situation.'' In like vein, another imaginary underling charged with containing an incipient scandal is told: ``It's orange gumboot mode. We have to move very fast.'' While pedestrian claptrap of this sort might help a few readers to give themselves an occasional kick start, most would be well advised to ankle on by. Read full book review >