Thinking Managers

Edward de Bono of points out that most of the thinking we do is casual and chaotic, whereas 'deliberate thinking' is focused and for a specific purpose.

Deliberate Thinking

My focus here is ‘deliberate thinking’. There is the thinking we do when we are driving or sitting at a desk reading documents or taking part in a discussion. However, deliberate thinking means setting aside some time to think with a clearly defined focus.

The problem with thinking that ‘just happens’ around a subject is that your attention jumps from one point to the next in the normal, routine way. Deliberate thinking, however, is different in that you direct your attention according to the framework you are using.

An organisation might have a list of subjects and issues that require attention. People could choose from this list, or everyone could be assigned the same topic for the same day.

It’s the formality that counts. You choose a topic. You choose a time set aside for thinking about that topic - and nothing else. There are many deliberate thinking tools and frameworks that can be used.

The output of the thinking could be utilised in a number of ways. Formal effort to collect the output might not be necessary at all. The effect of the thinking on the mind of the executive might eventually come through in discussions, decisions, suggestions, ideas, etc. It’s the personal enrichment that counts.

You can also collect the thinking of different people on the same topic as a formal report which is shared with everyone. A specific meeting on the assigned topic could be arranged where individuals share their own thinking.

It is the role of the thinking manager to encourage and organise deliberate thinking. He or she should draw up the formal focus lists. He or she should organise any training and consultation that is necessary in the area of thinking. He or she should arrange ‘new thinking’ sessions in order to generate new ideas and perceptions, and take action regarding any possibilities that exist.

It is a common mistake to equate thinking with intelligence. If someone has a high level of intelligence, many people think it follows that they will be a good thinker; if a person is not intelligent, then people mistakenly believe that nothing can be done about it and that person will not be a good thinker.

However, the truth is that many highly intelligent people are not good thinkers. While they might be good at understanding things, they might not be so good at generative thinking. Plenty of highly intelligent thinkers are even caught in the intelligence trap - this means that they use their thinking to defend their positions, rather than exploring ideas and subjects.

Thinking is a powerful and much neglected resource in lots of organisations. The thinking manager must correct this mistake where it exists.

About the author
Edward de Bono is the world's leading authority in the field of creative thinking and the teaching of thinking as a skill.

  Edward de Bono