5 DECEMBER 2001

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Paris meeting discusses world centre for new thinking

A successful International Round Table on ‘New Thinking’, was held at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, on 14 November, on the initiative of Edward de Bono. Participants included Prince Bandar Al-Saud, Advisor to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia; Professor Robert Mundell, Nobel Prize laureate and professor of economics at the University of Columbia; Lord Norman Lamont, Former Chancellor of the Exchequer (U.K.); Professor John Davis, president of All Souls College (University of Oxford); Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Govenor of the Central Bank of Malaysia; Dr Mary Redmond, deputy governor, the Bank of Ireland Group, Dr Erio Ziglio, Regional Director (Europe) World Health Organisation; Edward Goldsmith, Editor in Chief, The Ecologist and others from business, politics and education.
There is no world body with the specific task of generating new ideas and providing a platform for new thinking. This meeting at UNESCO was intended to work towards the establishment of just such a body – a World Centre for New Thinking," Dr de Bono said.
Two overlapping organisations are being suggested. One is the World Academy for New Thinking (WANT), which would be an association of those who believe in the need for and importance of new thinking. The second organisation would be the World Centre for New Thinking, a physical building that would serve as a base for task forces, negotiations, forums, round tables, training in creativity, and similar initiatives. "This World Centre would provide a platform for new ideas from any source, and generate ideas of its own," Dr de Bono said. "This centre could be based in Malta, where the government has offered an historic site, which requires around $25 million for restoration and refurbishment. The centre could also be based in any other country that offers suitable facilities."
The idea is that this World Centre for New Thinking would provide a home base for the Academy, and in turn, the Academy would provide an advisory council for the centre. "The world needs new thinking in many areas," Dr de Bono said, "but where is this new thinking to come from? Our inaugural meeting was designed to provide a practical answer to that question. New thinking may well be the missing ingredient in conflict resolution, problem solving, economic development, and designing the way forward. Information, analysis, judgement and argument are most valuable, but they may not be enough. Our existing habits of thinking are based on recognising standard situations and providing standard answers. Such thinking has served us well in science and technology, but not very well in human affairs."
So what is ‘new thinking’? Dr de Bono explains it by saying that analysis may not be enough, because it recognises known concepts and perceptions, but does not create new ones. You cannot always solve problems, he says, by finding and removing the cause of the problem. There is sometimes a need to design the way forward even if the cause of the problem cannot be removed. "Often the sheer sequence of events locks us into thinking which seems to be correct at each step of the way, but which is not the most effective at the end," he says. "To some extent, language is the biggest barrier to human progress, because words reflect perceptions at a point in the past. These perceptions are frozen into language and control our perceptions ever after. Perception becomes real even when it is not reality."

 



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