Attention-Directing Tools

Most practical thinking takes place in perception.

Most thinking mistakes are not mistakes of logic but mistakes of perception.

(Edward de Bono)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Of the people who shaped my thinking over the course of my life, Edward de Bono had the biggest impact. Before I started reading his books, I used to think he teaches creativity. I’ve since realized that what he actually teaches is thinking – creativity is just one aspect of it.”

“What was the biggest insight from his work so far?”

“That an essential aspect of thinking is directing attention.

This was a paradigm shift for me. I used to think of thinking and perception as two distinct entities. As a result of this insight, I integrated them into a single system. 

Take the familiar example of thinking of a certain color. As a result, all objects of that color in the environment start magically popping into view. Through the use of a linguistic label you’ve directed the attention toward a specific subset of things in the environment.

Or take a decision you want to make. The likelihood of getting a favorable outcome depends on a number of factors. The quality of the decision depends on directing attention to and considering all these factors. For this purpose, Edward de Bono created a specific linguistic label: CAF – Consider All Factors.

Unlike the color in the previous example, which was used as a tool for directing attention, this is a specifically designed attention-directing tool

He has designed a number of these tools as a means to teach thinking as a skill – to children and adults alike. His CoRT (Cognitive Research Trust) program, teaches six such tools:

AGO (Aims, Goals, Objectives)
APC (Alternatives, Possibilities, Choices)
C&S (Consequences & Sequel)
CAF (Consider All Factors)
OPV (Other People’s Views)
PMI (Plus, Minus, Interesting)

along with his Six Thinking Hats framework:

Red Hat: Emotions
Yellow Hat: Logical positive (Value Sensitivity)
Black Hat: Judgment (this is our default – and often only – hat)
White Hat: Information
Green Hat: Creativity (Lateral Thinking)
Blue Hat: Organization of thinking

This is a wonderful system. For me it’s also a blueprint for creating more such tools.”

“Is prioritization also a tool for directing attention?”

“It is. One of the most important: directing attention to the Most Important Thing (MIT) at a particular moment.”



About Dani Trusca

Playfully seeking wisdom

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