Six Action Shoes : A book review by Bob Morris

Six Action Shoes
Edward De Bono
Longman Higher Education (1991)

Note: When preparing for some interviews, I recently re-read several books on the creative process and remain convinced that all are still among the best. For example….

A Shoe for Every Action

I presume to suggest that you read this book after you read de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats and strongly urge you to read both. He invented the word “operacy” which he defines as “the skill of action….This book has very much to do with operacy. The framework of the six action shoes is a help both in the training of action skills and also in the use of those skills at the moment of action.”

In Chapter Six, De bono introduces the “six action action shoes”: Navy formal shoes, Grey sneakers, Brown brogues, Orange gunboots, Pink slippers, and Purple riding boots. The shoes colors are everyday colors “that suggest the nature of the action mode they indicate. The physical nature of the shoes also suggests the nature of the action made.”

What’s all this about? De Bono uses the colors and styles of the six shoes as mechanisms by which to explain and then illustrate his concept of “operacy.” He asserts (and I agree) that quite specific skills are needed to take effective action. The nature of each action is obviously determined by what would be most appropriate in a given situation. For example, Navy formal shoes are needed when routines and procedures are involved whereas Pink slippers are needed in a situation which requires care, compassion,, and attention to human feelings and sensitivities.

This is a thoughtful and lucid book, as one would expect from Edward De Bono. If you find it to be as thought-provoking and practical as I have, you should also check out his Lateral Thinking and De Bono’s Thinking Course as well as the works of Guy Claxton, Michael Michalko, Joey Reiman, and Roger von Oech.


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