Have you heard of the post of Chief Innovation Officer? Well Edward De Bono created one called Chief Ideas Officer.
For companies to benefit from lateral thinking, they have to appoint a chief thinking officer, he said, who is on par with the chief financial and operations officers.
“The job will be about teaching the appropriate thinking skills to the workforce; about setting up a process whereby the ideas and innovations that emerge are heard and evaluated; and putting structures in place that take the selected innovations and act on them.
“You should not only be looking at new ideas, but also at ways of simplifying, of doing old things in a new way, more efficiently.”
He believes too many strategic decisions are driven by inputting data into a computer, and the resulting analysis sets corporate strategy.
“This is very dangerous, because unless you can look at the data in different ways you are locked into the old concepts. This is where a human’s interpretation and thought processes cannot be replaced by a machine.”
The ability to look at data in different ways is critical for leaders in today’s society. Dr de Bono believes that there is great power in asking “why not?” more often – why not do it this way? why not try that? “When someone says we cannot do this or that, you as leader should ask – why not?”
“Creative people often put the emphasis on the novelty – this is a new idea, no-one has thought of it; and so on. Novelty is not a good currency – it is risk. But, if you focus on the benefits from the new ideas, people are more likely to agree to their implementation.”
However, new ideas alone are not sufficient. There needs to be some sort of structure, with someone responsible for making it happen – the chief ideas officer.
Taken from an event in Dubai, November 6 2008, co-hosted by Knowledge Network (knet) and Global Leaders.