EDWARD DE BONO introduced this term in my book 'PARALLEL THINKING' (published by Viking, London and Penguin Books, London).

Parallel thinking is best understood in contrast to traditional argument or adversarial thinking.

With the traditional argument or adversarial thinking each side takes a different position and then seeks to attack the other side. Each side seeks to prove that the other side is wrong. This is the type of thinking established by the Greek Gang of Three (Socrates, Plato and Aristotle) two thousand four hundred years ago.

Adversarial thinking completely lacks a constructive, creative or design element. It was intended only to discover the 'truth' not to build anything.

With 'parallel thinking' both sides (or all parties0 are thinking in parallel in the same direction. There is co-operative and co-ordinated thinking. The direction itself can be changed in order to give a full scan of the situation. But at every moment each thinker is thinking in parallel with all the other thinkers. There does not have to be agreement. Statements or thoughts which are indeed contradictory are not argued out but laid down in parallel.In the final stage the way forward is 'designed' from the parallel thought that have been laid out.

A simple and practical way of carrying out 'parallel thinking' is the Six HatsTM method which is now being used widely around the world both because it speeds up thinking and also because it is so much more constructive then traditional argument thinking.

Information on Lateral Thinking and Six Hats methods are available on this website. Particulars of training courses are also given.
Organisations that use the 'Six Thinking Hats' system report that their teams are more productive and in general "happier and healthier".

It is a fact that meeting productivity depends not so much on who attends but in how well the facilitator runs the meeting. Invariably times for meetings using this system have been reduced by at least 40%.

The Six Hats:

  1. The White Hat: calls for information known or needed. "The facts, just the facts."
  2. The Yellow Hat: symbolises brightness and optimism. You can explore the positives and probe for value and benefit
  3. The Black Hat: signifies caution and critical thinking - do not overuse! Why something may not work
  4. The Red Hat: signifies feelings, hunches and intuition - the place where emotions are placed without explanation
  5. The Green Hat: focuses on creativity, possibilities, alternatives and new ideas. It is an opportunity to express new concepts and new perceptions - lateral thinking could be used here
  6. The Blue Hat: is used to manage the thinking process. It ensures that the 'Six Thinking Hats' guidelines are observed.


  1. Lead shorter and more productive meetings
  2. Reduce conflict
  3. Look at decisions and problems systematically
  4. Achieve results
  5. Generate more and better ideas
  6. Think clearly
  7. Improve team results
  8. Solve problems, innovate and create.

Teams and Individuals learn "How to":

  1. Adopt a deliberate thinking process for solving problems and finding opportunities
  2. Reduce adversarial interactions between team members
  3. Stimulate innovating by focusing creative energy
  4. Foster collaborative thinking (not necessarily agreement) from everyone in the group
  5. Create dynamic and positive meetings that make people want to participate
  6. Spot opportunities where others see problems
  7. See beyond the obvious
  8. View problems from new and unusual angles
  9. See all sides of a situation
  10. Keep egos and 'turf protection' in check
  11. Save time.
  12. Isolate the types of thinking - negatives, positives etc
  13. Identify information that is missing or needed
  14. Spot dangers and potential problems and ways to overcome and avoid them

Source : http://www.edwdebono.com 

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