REVIEW - Teach Yourself to Think


Teach Yourself to Think


Edward De Bono




Penguin UK (1996)




Ian Bruntlett


June 2001



upgrades one of the key tools in a software developers toolbox - her brain

Edward de Bono states that Western thought is based on the work of the Gang of Three - Socrates, Aristotle and Plato. Socrates' approach was to remove all rubbish in the hope that the result would be truth - this leads to an overly critical approach. Plato gave us his obsession with truth and the belief that truth can be established logically. Aristotle gave us a categorybased approach - the "is" and "is not" which, in software development give us substitutability, inheritance and the LSP (Liskov Substitutability Principle).

Conventional logical thinking is prone to being overly sensitive to the order in which facts are presented. De Bono's main contribution is his book Lateral Thinking which points this out in detail, giving examples and key techniques (fractionation, reversal, brainstorming, po) to think laterally. Lateral thinking is the process of using information to bring about creativity and insight restructuring - after that is done, conventional logical thinking is employed.

De Bono has developed frameworks for thinking - he has already written a book about his "six thinking hats" method. This book is about more conventional thinking and, for want of a better name, I call it the To-Lo-Po-So-Go framework. The names are stages of thought and, at each stage, a BPARM process is performed (Broad/Specific, Projection, Attention-directing, Recognition, Movement).

Each stage and process of the To-Lo-Po-So-Go process is explained carefully with a wealth of supporting material. At times, the book is so airily spaced, the subject matter to clearly explained that at first glance it almost appears to be trivial. I feel this book is very important in that it upgrades one of the key tools in a software developer's toolbox - her brain.

Book cover image courtesy of Open Library.