World Thinking Report
Most people have been informed or persuaded that the biggest problem facing the world is climate change or global warming. Unfortunately there is a much bigger and much more serious problem: that is inadequate thinking. This is not poor thinking by a few people but by the human race in general. It is a bigger problem because no one sees it as a problem. It is a more serious problem because we need better thinking in all areas – including climate change.
This may seem a surprising claim in view of the excellence of our thinking. We have atomic energy – the most fundamental of all energies. We can fly faster than the speed of sound. We have a wonderful Internet that allows everyone to communicate. We can cure many diseases such as tuberculosis. Is all this not the result of excellent thinking?
A short while ago it was necessary to invent a new word. The word was ‘ebne’. This means excellent but not enough. In our traditional dialectic system you have to accept or attack. The attack is often unjustified when what is attacked is excellent. Our existing thinking is excellent – but not enough.
We have developed an excellent thinking system for finding the truth. This has served us very well in science and technology.
But we have never developed thinking for ‘creating value’. To be sure, individual inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs have done this from time to time. But we have never developed value thinking on a cultural level in education or elsewhere. How did this come about?
About 2,400 years ago there was the Greek Gang of Three. There was Socrates with his interest in questions and argument. There was Plato with his concern for the truth. There was Aristotle with his box logic: you are in this box or out of it.
This thinking came into Europe at the time of the Renaissance. At that time schools, universities and thinking in general were in the hands of the Church. The church did not need creative thinking. The Church did not need perceptual thinking. What the Church did need was truth, logic and argument with which to prove heretics wrong. So this became the basis of our culture of thinking.
Unfortunately it was even worse than this. In its thinking and argument the Church started with fixed points of dogma (God is omnipotent etc.). If you start with fixed points then logic is indeed sufficient. This led to an obsession with logic.
In real life, however we do not usually start with fixed points but with perceptions. If the perception is wrong it does not matter how excellent the logic might be the conclusion will be wrong. Goedel’s Theorem showed that from within a situation logic could never justify the starting points which remain arbitrary perceptions. David Perkins at Harvard carried out research which showed that ninety percent of the errors in thinking were errors of perception. There were few errors of logic. Yet in education and elsewhere we continue to emphasise logic and to ignore perception.
That is how we developed our thinking ‘for creating value’.
Truth thinking ends in judgement. That is why we have made very little progress in human affairs in contrast to our successes in science and technology.
Two of the more intelligent groups on earth have been unable to resolve a dispute that started in 1948. The Israelis and the Palestinians have been unable to move forward in spite of their intelligence.
While truth thinking ends in judgement, value thinking ends in design.
Politics at international level is all about judgement. Bad parties are to be bombed or sanctioned. There is little effort to design a way forward.
There is a major defect in democracy. Many professions such as architect, engineer, scientist or business executive do not want to enter politics because if they are not elected the next time they cannot go back to where they were. So politics is filled with word-merchants such as lawyers, teachers, journalists and trade unionists. They are good at arguing but have not developed habits of constructive or creative thinking.
Rockets are fired at Israel from Gaza. The judgement response is to bomb and invade Gaza. The design response might have been for all the countries that set up Israel in the first place to contribute to a grant of three billion dollars a year to be paid to the Palestinians. But every time a rocket is fired they lose fifty million dollars. This changes the scene.
If our thinking is indeed so limited are there ways of improving it?
Creative thinking has always been regarded as a mysterious talent. Lateral thinking removes the mystery and the talent and shows creative thinking to be a skill that can be learned like any other skill. It is a logical process based on an understanding of how the brain as a self-organising information system forms patterns. All patterning systems are asymmetric and the tools of lateral thinking allow us to cut across patterns. The use of just one tool allowed a workshop to generate 21,000 ideas for a steel company in one afternoon. Inspiration can never work that fast.
Argument is a crude and primitive way of exploring a subject but we have been satisfied with it for twenty-four centuries. Parallel thinking (the Six Hats method) is very different. One corporation had been arguing over an issue for eighteen months. In one hour and a quarter of parallel thinking the matter was resolved. A Scandinavian company used to spend thirty days on multi-national project discussions. Using parallel thinking it now takes two days. A major finance house reported that meetings had been reduced to one tenth of their usual time. Juries in New York using the method reached unanimous decisions very quickly. A nobel prize economist told me that the previous week he had been at a top level economics meeting in Washington and they were using the Six Hats method. Why had it taken us 2,400 years
In answer to the question
"Why has the Six Hats method taken 2400 years?"
I don't know immediately, but will think about it.
Ok, some reasons why
Why has use of the Six Hats method taken 2400 years to be invented and in use?
Cool - another Quiz Question!!!
Here's my list...
The world has finally become a "global village," where better ideas can be recognized by popular demand - not by a particular patron of the arts or other honored person who will eventually die along with their benevolent ideas about how to run things.
Formerly, parallel thinking styles were degraded in status as being "women's ways" = trivial and ineffective, (despite all that work getting done by women.)
Argument is a game, and it is a big part of Greek culture. In Greece, most of the culture believes you are not being properly spoken with unless there is an argument. Argument is a socially acceptable means of ritual fighting and is recognized as a viable way to channel agression. People love their games probably as much or more as they love their religions.
People were proud of being a product of their conditioning and perception, (de Bono's word for point of view or attitude.) Changing one's opinion was regarded to reflect an insult to one's ancestors, country, peer group, religion, family, etc.
There was no way to know what the white hat facts were. All "facts" were opinions of someone.
It still is true that a man with the highest status and control over others had his opinions honored. A man with enough status, degrees and experience had to write a best-selling book about it, making it popular (and some money) and acceptable to be used by other men.
There were social repercussions for speaking the truth. Punishment is incurred for having ideas that did not agree with the status quo and having the audacity to say them. This is still a problem.
Introduction of ideas is often a matter of social communication skills and presentation, rather than the raw value of content of the idea or invention.
Prior to this era we live in now, the possibility of "creating value" did not imply the ability to make it happen. One could have brilliant ideas, but they could not be actualized or even explored with a lifetime of dedication.There are now enough social systems in place for things to be able to happen. For instance, in third world countries, it's difficult to get mail or roads maintained, or other common services that most of us take for granted.
Education wasn't so widespread and was mostly a product of indoctrination. Education used to be privileged, not a right. It is still a product of indoctrination - but salesmanship has elevated education to a new level of manipulation under the guise of "infomercial."
#DING# ... Designated time to think is up..
Avirl, that was my favorite one-line quote also from the above!