Monday, September 25th 2017

Edward de Bono: management consultant turned Messiah

edwardBY CYNDI INGLE — Can you get down with a new faith that preaches living your life through happiness, humor, help, hope and health?

The formula is set out in a 93-page book released in the UK by Dr. Edward de Bono called H+ (Plus).

The world-renowned, 74-year-old, lateral-thinking guru apparently took a break from his day job as a high-priced consultant to come up with ways clients could earn more cash — but it looks like the book frames a set of spiritual practices that directly feed more money to de Bono himself.

The central concept of his book, the scheme and his new religion is the promise of “pons.” You will achieve a feeling of self-fulfillment by carrying out a specific number of “pons” (concrete actions to help others) each day.

The doc has no time for the negative doctrines of mainstream religions: irritants like sin, heaven/hell; the pervasive “my religion is better than yours” refrain; or a call to arms (literally) to die for one’s beliefs.

Instead, de Bono advocates developing competitive advantages using the brute force of the mind: “Outperform (out think) others by fine-tuning and improving your thinking skills. . .Thinking Tools help us to do our jobs well. Contribute to team efforts and show that skills merit promotion and increasing responsibility and. . .earn more money!” Go team go!

de Bono, a former Rhodes scholar at Oxford, holds an MD, MA, DPhil, PhD, DDes, and LLD, has 80 books under his belt, including the bestsellers Lateral Thinking for Management, Six Thinking Hats, and Serious Creativity. He’s dispensed his expertise to executives at American Standard. BP, British Airways, Citibank, Ford, Exxon, General Motors, IBM, Kodak, Pfizer, Prudential, Proctor & Gamble, Shell, etc.

Somehow it’s not a surprise that he’s now expanded his ambitions to founding a new religion. The word of de Bono: “H+ is a religion in the sense that Buddhism is a religion. H+ is a way of life.”

Pons (short for “positive sins”) are helpful, spontaneous acts; however, they can’t be obvious and effortless like giving street people money because, “it may be anti-social behaviour to encourage begging by providing beggars with an unearned source of income.” Yes, we certainly don’t want to spoil the career options of the drug/alcohol addicts and mental health survivors who we give the odd dollar to now and then.

But about halfway, the book takes a seriously curious turn.

It seems that the kicker about pons is that if you don’t perform the allotted number for the day, a fine (which you set yourself) is levied…which you mail to Dr. Edward de Bono at H+ Headquarters. And if you recruit others to the H+ philosophy and become an “energizer”, you will receive 60% of your followers’ fines, with the other 40% going to Bono. Sounds more ponzi than pons.

Equally peculiar is that adherents are encouraged to conduct a seemingly meaningless daily ritual of drawing 100 circles on a blank sheet of page. “The value of ritual is that it involves self-discipline and belonging. . .the ritual is a visible signal to yourself and to others that you belong, in some way, to a group.”

The book kind of goes over the cliff-edge of surreal when it outlines a discreet hand signal that followers can use to recognize each other: touching the right side of your nose and then the outer corner of your right eye. No word on what to do if a street person gives you this sign. To follow what the doc gets up to next, here’s de Bono’s blog.

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