Kirkus Reviews QR Code



Pub Date: April 10th, 1986
Publisher: Facts on File

A common-sense, practical (and at times simplistic) thinking guide that is probably most effective in de Bono's seminars, or with the BBC-TV series this book is meant to accompany. (See also following review.) Thinking is a concept that, de Bono says, has little to do with innate intelligence. In fact, he asserts, ""highly intelligent people may my out to be rather poor thinkers."" Among the elements of his way of ""better thinking"": thorough exploration of alternatives; suppression of emotion until a problem or question has been addressed; lack of contentment with merely adequate solutions; rejection of familiar patterns of thinking; use of ""bad"" ideas as stepping stones to other ideas. In the most interesting parts of this book, de Bono tells of students of his whose thinking changed. A telling--if minor--example is the computer executive who for 25 years had been putting two packets of sugar in his coffee, always opening the two separately, and who while taking a de Bono thinking course began spontaneously to place one packet atop the other and open them together. But for every concrete example de Bono offers, there is an annoying acronym that refers to concepts he discusses. Typical ones include FI-FO, standing for inFormation-In and inFormation-Out; FQ, fishing question; SQ, shooting question. As scores of these acronyms are introduced, one begins encountering sentences that read: ""Explore first with such tools as PMI, CAF, APC, EBS, ADI, OPV."" Eventually, the prose starts to have the grace of an electronics manual. More crucially, like many teachers of cure-all systems, de Bono glibly dismisses actual or perceived competition. Thus he makes such blanket statements as ""Western civilization in its philosophy and in its practice has been obsessed with the 'clash' system in which two opposing views fight it out."" In his brief discussion of the matter, he distorts the process of dialectics, apparently understanding only thesis and antithesis but not the key concept of synthesis. He also defines critical and constructive thinking as antagonistic, leading to the unfortunate remark that ""many of the more brilliant minds in Western civilization are trapped into this unconstructive mode [of negative criticism]."" The intelligent and valuable points--and they are several--could be covered in a book a quarter of the length and with less jargon. . .especially those bubbling acronyms.