Siamese Lateral Thinking

I’ve just been fortunate enough to spend some time in Bangkok teaching Lateral Thinking on behalf of the deBono Institute to a combined group of Thai and Indonesian staff from Exxon-Mobil. I promised the students that I would share a few online insights on my time with them, hence this post!

First off I must concede that Lateral Thinking is not for everyone, the methods push your brain into an unstable state and many are far from comfortable with this. It’s far easier to simply default to thinking and doing the same old things, the same old way because they are comfortable and worked in the past.

Sadly the world does not work like this. We now have an urgent need to think laterally as it’s a means of breaking the existing and well-established patterns that already exist in our heads. Without doing so we are doomed to producing the same old thoughts and ideas ad infinitum, and never come to grips with the increasing number of new and complex challenges facing us.

Anyway, despite the associated difficulties with learning these new and challenging tools, the students took to them with a great deal of enthusiasm. The thing that really impressed me the most, is that this course is delivered in English, and English for every student in the room constituted their 2nd or even 3rd language. (My Thai and Indonesian is pretty good, but a vocabulary of 4 or 5 words will just not cut it.) So not only did they grapple with new concepts and ideas, but they did it in a language that I assume was much less comfortable to them than others.

I suspect many here in Australia would struggle to be able to do similarly, let alone be able to speak multiple languages. I have read in the past that those with additional language skills have a correspondingly greater number of connections form in their brains, so I wonder if this was a factor in the groups uptake of the tools?

During the course of the two days training we looked at a number of issues, both organisational and personal, to which we could apply the lateral thinking tools. These included such diverse topics as “generating ideas to increase collaboration across the organisation’s international boundaries”, “challenging aspects of their personal development plan process” and “designing a new type of toothbrush”.  The final idea generation session during which the group applied all of the tools in an end to end process, involved generating new ideas to assist themselves to save money better and make sound personal investment decisions for the future.

Anyway, if these students were typical of the calibre of staff that the organisation has in both Thailand and Indonesia, we can expect good things from Exxon-Mobil in the future.

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About the Author

Frank Connolly is the Principal of “Think Quick”, a business that adds value through thinking differently. His work history covers all sectors and includes initiatives that have yielded bottom line benefit in the 10’s of millions of dollars.

Frank has worked across Australia, South East Asia, China, the Middle East and Africa where he has trained and facilitated multiple thinking methods and been acknowledged by Edward de Bono as one of the foremost practitioners of the de Bono thinking methods worldwide.

Frank believes strongly that if we can improve the way we think, the actions that follow also improve.

Comments (3)

  1. Ann Bell :

    Hi Frank

    Re: The calibre of students from Indonesia and Thailand, no surprise there, ( Students are the reason why I love my job)

    I think that a key factor in relation to people who are bi/multilingual in being able to form more connections is that in order to communicate effectively within another language you must be able to understand the different logic systems and very different ways of thinking within each.

    This is not to say that monolingual people can’t succeed it is just that their normal thought patterns are rather more linear than those of who are bi/ multilinguals. It can be taught!

     Annie B.

  2. Ek :

    You did what you promised, Frank! 🙂

    From Thailand with Love,


    P.S. Concepts and ideas is very useful, yet very easy to use in every aspects of my daily life!

  3. Frank Connolly :

    Hi Ek!

    Keep using then the more you use them the better you get.

    Best Regards


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