Edward de Bono
1933 – 2021

The originator of lateral thinking; created practical tools to challenge habitual ways of thinking.


Ranked #40 in 2007. 

Previous positions:

#20 in 2005; #35 (2003), #33 (2001). 


Shortlisted for the Nobel Prize in Economics, 2005.


Set two canoeing records while a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. 


De Bono argued that we needed to fight against the “tyranny of logic” –  the vertical thinking as espoused by the Greek philosophers – with creative thinking, and coined the term lateral thinking, in 1967. It is lateral thinking, he said, that creates new ideas; logic can’t change perception or emotion – and it is errors in perception that lead to the most errors in thinking.

In his 1985 book, Six Thinking Hats, de Bono outlined his ideas for individuals or groups to move away from habitual ways of thinking and try different approaches and perspectives, by wearing one of six, colour-coded imaginary hats, with the red hat, for example, being the Hat for the Heart and the yellow, the Optimist’s Hat. In 1991, he set up Advanced Practical Thinking Training (now de Bono Thinking Systems) to teach corporations how to apply his ideas and in 1999 co-founded the hugely successful online Effective Thinking Course.


Maltese physician, psychologist, author, inventor, and philosopher, de Bono went to Oxford in 1953 as a Rhodes Scholar, graduating with an MA in psychology and Physiology. He gained his PhD in medicine from Cambridge and held faculty appointments at Oxford, Cambridge, London, and Harvard. He was also professor at the University of Malta, the University of Pretoria, Birmingham UK, and Dublin City. De Bono held the Da Vinci Professor of Thinking chair at the University of Advancing Technology in Tempe, Arizona and was one of 27 Ambassadors for the European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009. 


De Bono wrote over 60 books, including The Use of Lateral Thinking (Penguin, 1967); The Mechanism of Mind (Jonathan Cape, 1969); Children Solve Problems (Penguin Press, 1972); Six Thinking Hats (Little Brown & Co, 1985); The De Bono Code Book (Viking, 2000); How to Have a Beautiful Mind (Random House, 2004) and Think! Before It’s Too Late (Random House, 2009). His TV programme “de Bono’s Thinking Course” ran on the BBC in the 1980s.


Media picks


“De Bono never ceases to amaze … an inspiring man with brilliant ideas.”

Richard Branson

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