A money lender who used to give credit to a neighbourhood trader, approached him one day: ''It's time you repay. However, knowing your hardship, I am prepared to forego the loans, if only you'd let me marry your daughter.” The trader and his daughter were aghast. After much thought, the daughter came up with a plan. From a box containing a black and a white pebble, the lender must pick one without looking. If it is black, she would marry him, and he would write off the debt. If it is white, he would give up both. The lender stipulated that he would pick up the pebbles, while she could make the final choice. On the agreed day, at the riverbank, the lender collected two pebbles, deftly both black dropping them into the bag in a trice. The trader's daughter who saw this vowed herself: ''I will not let him cheat me.'' And she did not.
How* she outfoxed her opponent is a defining example of 'Lateral Thinking'. Edward de Bono, the architect of this unique method which The Sunday Times of London called "the biggest craze since Scrabble", wrote over 80 books including the bestseller “Six Thinking Hats”. In a challenging situation, it encouraged one to imagine wearing six different hats, and think like six different guys! In the process, the obvious step-by-step logical approach (which De Bono called 'Vertical Thinking') was skipped to let the mind transcend usual thought patterns and perceived restrictions, until reaching an innovative outcome no one ever thought about.
Edward de Bono, even as he propagated dynamic thinking concepts and tools, produced a documentary film “2040” where he envisioned a cryogenic freeze to build a future society. He also compiled a Code Book of communication to integrate linguistic multiplicities. But what caught everyone by surprise was his 'out of the box' theory about low Zinc level in the food consumed, fuelling conflicts in the middle east.
With De Bono's demise on 9 June 2021, the world lost an original thinker who inspired, encouraged, and enabled us to think differently, and strive to enrich our planet and lives.
*Think laterally to find out how!