CREATIVE THINKERING

Putting Your Imagination To Work

 

Reader Reviews from Amazon and Barnes & Noble

 

ANOTHER MASTERPIECE FROM THE MASTER

Michael Michalko will take you on a delicious ride to the next evolutionary level of understanding why creative thinking is often counterintuitive and what methods work to break stilted thinking. Not a day goes by that I don’t employ several of Michael’s methods. I hope you utilize and enjoy the genius found in CREATIVE THINKERING to carve out a new way of thinking and living that will bring you the fulfillment those methods have brought me. Michael Michalko is the only writer on creativity who offers palpable, common sense tools you can put to work on a daily basis. It is beyond me why anyone would not want to have all of Michalko’s books. Simple methods, inexpensive, fascinating, fun . . . and they produce results.

– Terry H. Stickels

 

LEARN TO THINK CREATIVELY

Creative Thinkering by Michael Michalko provides readers with actionable methods to tap into and broaden their natural creativity. Aimed at those who question their imaginative abilities, Michael reveals a systematic approach to generating new ideas through the association of two or more dissimilar subjects; resulting in the generation of entirely new products, services, and methods.

Throughout Creative Thinkering, Michael provides detail rich examples of his method’s application as well as challenging the reader to develop his or her own capabilities through numerous thought experiments. These elements transform this book from one that simply provides a method into one that is a teaching manual; helping even the most rigid of thinkers expand their creative horizons.

I like Creative Thinkering because of its immediately implementable methods for expanding one’s creative output. Michael clearly illustrates that anyone can be highly creative and through his plentiful thought experiments convinces even the most rigid thinkers that they too can be the source of highly original ideas. In a fast moving world that requires continuous adaptation, Creative Thinkering can help arm any professional with a crucial skill needed to remain competitive.

I have long benefited from Michael’s insights on creativity. I thoroughly enjoyed his earlier book, Thinkertoys and have applied the methods he prescribes therein to my work almost every day. If I had one criticism of Creative Thinkering it would be that Michael’s new book is not as `fun’ as his last – but it is by all accounts just as valuable.

Overcoming ones creative doubts is a key ingredient to taking the actions necessary to remain competitive in our highly innovative and rapidly changing world. Michael’s book provides those with such doubts a clear method for dealing with their rigidness and conceiving the truly unique; making Creative Thinkering a Strategy Driven recommended read.

– Nathan Ives

 

UNIMAGINED POSSIBILITIES

Creative Thinkering by Michael Michalko is a superb book! It is filled with tangible ways to learn how to think and see the world in a different manner. I promise you, you did not learn how to do this in school. For example, were you ever taught a tangible and effective way to tap into your subconscious to solve any pressing problem?

Do you think dancers and scientists have any reason to collaborate? What do they have in common? Michael Michalko opens our eyes to the concept of essence. Think about the essence of movement from different domains. Scientists study movement in superconductivity and dancers are experts in movement. We are introduced to the concept of conceptual blending. Thus the two worlds collide and we see scientists and dancers collaborate. Our eyes and minds are opened to new ways of thinking.

If you want to determine the DNA for your organization, Michael Michalko shares with you practical advice you can apply immediately. Within Creative Thinkering, you will find real stories and thought experiments that capture the essence of creativity.

You must read Creative Thinkering: Putting Your Imagination to Work and begin to apply it immediately. Your professional and personal life will be opened to new and unimagined possibilities. Your subconscious is like an egg, quiet on the outside; however, change is taking place inside.

Reading and applying Creative Thinkering brings out our creative potential. For professionals like me, Creative Thinkering is the best return on investment and return on time for your organization to become more creative.

Since creativity is now understood to be the number one competency needed by organizations, then Creative Thinkering will provide the knowledge you need to develop creative competency. I strongly recommend you read Creative Thinkering by Michael Michalko.

– Connie Harryman American  – Creativity Association

 

A MAJOR CONTRIBUTION TO THE CREATIVE THINKING LITERATURE BY ONE OF THE GREATS 

Sorry for the gushing title, but this book really hit the creativity spot. Michael Michalko is one of the big minds in the teaching of creative thinking and this book demonstrates why. Beginning from the principle that new ideas are the combination of existing things in new ways, Michalko describes the mindset and perspectives that are required to promote personal creativity – looking at things differently, combining random items with existing inputs, running thought experiments, for example. Michalko also provides an incredible list of positive affirmations with which to start the day to ensure a creative, positive and open attitude. It’s not your typical list of standard one-liners, but a list of affirmations that connect and build on each other. This is a segment of the lesson on playing the part of the creative person to become creative. The book also includes many powerful visuals and exercises that reinforce the lessons and points. Michalko does a masterful job of pointing out exactly how we are defective in our thinking and how we can get out of those mental ruts to revive the creative spirit we had in childhood. A must book for anyone seeking to become more creative.

Book Voice

 

BOOK REPORT FROM MURPHY BUSINESS

We read ’em, so you don’t have to! As the nuns used to say, put on your thinking caps. Remember that, when you’d have to fake-tie on your cap? (No, well this would be a good time to make fun of me, now wouldn’t it?) This month’s selection, Creative Thinkering by Michael Michalko, is like one long session with Sister Helen Margaret and the thinking cap. Michalko takes the reader through numerous thought experiments and exercises centered on the random approach to thinking and problem solving. Like last month’s recommended book, Tribal Leadership, this one is perfect for the business leader who is stuck and in need of new approaches to day-in-and-day-out challenges. With a cup of da Vinci here, a dose of van Gogh there, and a pinch of Picasso for good measure, this book reads like a Renaissance recipe for those in need of more creativity.

One of the key takeaways here comes toward the end, when the author challenges the reader with something he calls “the word pattern of impossibility.” Let’s say you don’t consider yourself to be the creative type; Michalko would say that you’ve likely stopped striving to become so. To address this malaise, he takes the reader through new ways of thinking to get from “I can’t be creative” to “I will be creative.” If you’re hearing a big of Stuart Smalley here, you’re not far off. (Let’s face it, you’re not going to tackle self-limiting thinking without it coming off as, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”) But if you can get beyond that, you’ll find value in the author’s recommendations to go from impossibility, to possibility, to necessity, to certainty, to desire. His experiments are simple yet highly effective. The stories about utterly random strategies to overcoming tough challenges are remarkable, notably how one would-be author overcame the classic Catch-22 struggle of you can’t be published without an agent/you can’t get an agent if you’re not published that has to read twice to be believed.

The recurring theme in Creative Thinkering is that there are ways to return to our formative years, when spontaneity and creativity came naturally. Michalko claims that our schools ruined us for thinking, that it’s as if “we entered school as a question mark and graduated as a period.” And he hammers the point that “we see no more than we expect to see.” Retold here is the wonderful social experiment conducted by The Washington Post years ago, through which a world-class violinist, playing intricate material on a $3.5 million instrument in a Metro station was virtually ignored by everyone save for children who tried to stop and listen. Adults assumed a bum was playing for tips; children heard what was real – a rare talent who had sold out a concert hall two days before. If you’re up for starting 2013 by taking a different tack to your average day’s occurrences, this book will surely help you get there.

– Christopher M. Bond

 

HOW TO CONNECT ALL THE DOTS

Those who have read any of Michael Michalko’s previously published books, notably Cracking Creativity and Thinkertoys, already know that he has a unique talent for explaining the creative process (making something new) and the innovative process (making something better) and does so creatively and innovatively, in ways and to an extent that almost anyone can understand (a) what they are, (b) how they differ, (c) what they share in common, and (d) how to benefit from them.

In his latest book, he explains how and why conceptual blending of dissimilar subjects, ideas, and concepts is the most important factor in creative thinking. It is not only a matter of “connecting the dots,” although that skill important; it also involves “connecting the right dots in the right way” and, more importantly, being able to recognize especially important “dots” that others may not see, much less appreciate.

Michalko organizes his material within two Parts: Creative Thinking and The Creative Thinker. Obviously, the first focuses on various techniques, skills, drills, exempla, and exercises that explain what creative thinking is and can do. In Part II, he explains how almost anyone can become a much more creative thinker. More specifically, how to become much more alert for connections (especially between and among what are significantly dissimilar), intentionally thinking more creatively rather than haphazardly, changing the way one speaks in order to change the way one thinks (he devotes all of Chapter 12 to that), and “Becoming What You Pretend to Be,” the title of the next chapter. Long ago, Henry Ford observes, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” Michalko wholly agrees, noting that just as attitude can influence behavior, behavior can influence attitude. Of special interest to me is the “Thought Experiment” (“Velten’s Instructions,” on Pages 183-185″). I’ll say no more about it except this: What I learned from completing this exercises – all by itself – is worth far more than the cost of the book.

Here in Dallas, we have a farmers market near the downtown area at which several merchants offer slices of fresh fruit as a sample of their wares. In that spirit, I now provide a representative selection of Michalko’s insights from among the several hundred I carefully considered:

On Leonardo da Vinci: “His mind integrated information instead of segregating it. This is why he was polymathic. He created breakthroughs in art, science, engineering, military, science, invention, and medicine.” This is what Roger martin has in mind, n The Opposable Mind, when he discusses his concept of “integrative thinking.” Page 10

On the Edison research center in Menlo, Park (NJ): “Thomas Edison’s lab was a big barn with worktables set up side by side that held separate projects in progress. He would work on one project and then another. His workshop was designed to allow one project to infect a neighboring one, so that moves made here might also be tried there. This method of working allowed him to consistently rethink the way he saw his projects. You can use separate notebooks to do, in time, what Edison’s workshop did in space.” Page 70

On the creative thinker: Someone who is “a result of the assembly and interactions of certain critical human traits. First, you must have the intention and desire to be creative; second, you must consciously cultivate positive speaking and thinking patterns; and last, you must act like a creative thinker and go through the motions of being creative every day.” Page 145

On creating one’s own experiences: “Cognitive scientists have discovered that the brain is a dynamic system – an organ that evolves its patterns of activity rather than computes them like a computer. It thrives on the creative energy of feedback from experiences either real or fictional. An important point to remember is that you can synthesize experience, literally create it in your imagination. The human brain cannot tell the difference between an `actual’ experience and an experience imagined vividly and in detail.” Page 186

I presume to offer two suggestions to those who purchase this book: highlight key passages (my preference is for the Sharpie ACCENT wide tip pen with Smear Guard) and complete the several dozen “Thought Experiment” exercises using a notebook (my preference is the Mead Black Marble Wide-Ruled Composition Book). This really is a workbook without spaces within which to complete the exercises. Fortunately, Michael Michalko has a very creative mind and thus has been into his book a lively and substantive interaction between his reader and the material he provides.

– Robert Morris

 

A GEM STONE

I’ve found a real jewel of a book recently. Let me make a direct statement here: Michael Michalko’s new book Creative Thinkering — is a real gem stone. Just finished reading in one go on a flight across the pond — and it was a mind-bendingly delightful and informative read – Chicago to London has never gone so quickly.

Thought provoking and interactive, Creative Thinkering, really gets you…thinking…in a fresh way about the meaning and “how to” of invention and breakthrough problem solving. It’s packed with information about the nature of creativity. It flows logically, it has lots of juicy real life stories and examples, and it’s absolutely loaded with germane and fun visuals. I’d add that it’s also emotionally engaging and it has you realizing that, yes, I can be more creative. His “thinkering” exercises have you proving it to yourself, it’s really creative empowerment.

This book deserves a wide readership — creative thinking could use a breakthrough book. It’s one of the weird things about the field, that is, the people mostly likely to read a creativity book are those that don’t need it. Creative Thinkering bridges the perception gap and opens up creative vistas — even for those who don’t believe they have the creative gene. Creative Thinkering de-mystifies the mythology that surrounds creativity, although if anything I finish the book even more awestruck about the power of imagination. Michalko elaborates extensively on the concept of “conceptual blending” which, in essence, is a mash-up in someone’s mind of unrelated concepts that has them coming up with fresh, breakthrough ideas. This is a thinking capacity we all have, but one that few of us tap into. This conceptual blending is not an entirely new idea, but it’s never been so well explained. In summary, I’d say that Creative Thinkering provides greater access to creativity — served up in this gleaming silver platter of a book.

– Gregg Fraley

 

WE NEED MORE CREATIVE THINKING

Whether you’re a would-be entrepreneur looking for a great idea or just love puzzles and how the mind works, if you want to get the creative juices flowing, this book is for you. It is all about breaking the “logical” patterns of thought we were taught in school that stifled the free imagination of our childhood. Using thought exercises and real life examples, Michalko guides us back to the territory of unfettered “thinkering” where we give our imagination free rein. He shows us how to combine dissimilar or even contradictory subjects and ideas, no matter how far out, in a process he calls “conceptual blending,” which he liberally illustrates with examples of how others have done it and guides us how to do it ourselves. This is the most important factor in creative thinking, according to Michalko, one of the most highly acclaimed creativity experts in the world and author of the best sellers Thinkertoys and Cracking Creativity.

Another useful approach is incubation – just letting the idea percolate for a while, especially overnight. This is what he calls, “letting God” put the pieces together. Michalko recommends that we make a practice of keeping notes about our ideas, observations, and creative attempts, and that we collect information about all the ideas, concepts and problems we are working on. You never know what will spark the creative connection and that “aha moment.”

One of the things I particularly enjoyed in the book was the abundance of riddles and optical illusions. (He always gives the answers at the end of each chapter.) Aside from being fun, they also illustrate the importance of being willing to change your perspective and look as something in a whole new way. At a time when the façades of so many political, financial and social institutions are crumbling, never has “creative thinkering” been more urgently needed.

– Miriam Knight

 

A MAJOR CONTRIBUTION TO THE CREATIVE THINKING LITERATURE BY ONE OF THE GREATS

Sorry for the gushing title, but this book really hit the creativity spot. Michael Michalko is one of the big minds in the teaching of creative thinking and this book demonstrates why. Beginning from the principle that new ideas are the combination of existing things in new ways, Michalko describes the mindset and perspectives that are required to promote personal creativity – looking at things differently, combining random items with existing inputs, running thought experiments, for example. Michalko also provides an incredible list of positive affirmations with which to start the day to ensure a creative, positive and open attitude. It’s not your typical list of standard one-liners, but a list of affirmations that connect and build on each other. This is a segment of the lesson on playing the part of the creative person to become creative. The book also includes many powerful visuals and exercises that reinforce the lessons and points. Michalko does a masterful job of pointing out exactly how we are defective in our thinking and how we can get out of those mental ruts to revive the creative spirit we had in childhood. A must book for anyone seeking to become more creative.

– Vine Voice

 

THINKERING

This is a great book which clearly and elegantly describes how we can increase our creative thinking – much needed in a time when the old solutions don’t work with new problems – the more lateral and creative thinkers we have the better we will all be!

– Janet Mace

 

WE NEED MORE CREATIVE THINKERING

Whether you’re a would-be entrepreneur looking for a great idea or just love puzzles and how the mind works, if you want to get the creative juices flowing, this book is for you. It is all about breaking the “logical” patterns of thought we were taught in school that stifled the free imagination of our childhood. Using thought exercises and real life examples, Michalko guides us back to the territory of unfettered “thinkering” where we give our imagination free rein. He shows us how to combine dissimilar or even contradictory subjects and ideas, no matter how far out, in a process he calls “conceptual blending,” which he liberally illustrates with examples of how others have done it and guides us how to do it ourselves. This is the most important factor in creative thinking, according to Michalko, one of the most highly acclaimed creativity experts in the world and author of the best sellers Thinkertoys and Cracking Creativity.

Another useful approach is incubation – just letting the idea percolate for a while, especially overnight. This is what he calls, “letting God” put the pieces together. Michalko recommends that we make a practice of keeping notes about our ideas, observations, and creative attempts, and that we collect information about all the ideas, concepts and problems we are working on. You never know what will spark the creative connection and that “aha moment.”

One of the things I particularly enjoyed in the book was the abundance of riddles and optical illusions. (He always gives the answers at the end of each chapter.) Aside from being fun, they also illustrate the importance of being willing to change your perspective and look as something in a whole new way. At a time when the façades of so many political, financial and social institutions are crumbling, never has “creative thinkering” been more urgently needed.

– Miriam Knight  – “New Consciousness Review”

 

ONE IDEA = 4 MILLION DOLLARS

As an innovation consultant, I have been working closely with clients in 3 major aspects: (1) Process streamlining, (2) Strategy formulation, and (3) New product / Service development. Each project is different and requires careful analysis of the challenges and business needs, an in-depth investigation of internal and external constraints, crafting of intervention strategies and last but not least the development of a thoughtful implementation plan. Having said that, the bedrock of every success is still “IDEA”. Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.), once said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” He is pointing us to the right direction but the question is “How can we become the first person who comes up with that brilliant ideas”.

2 years ago, we worked with HSBC on an organization wide CHANGE initiative aiming to increase their STAFF ENGAGEMENT LEVEL. We trained up 60+ champions, using Michael Michalko’s techniques, to lead internal THINK TANKS to brainstorm improvement ideas. In one of the think tanks, the members used the SCAMPER technique in great details to analyze their existing operation and came up with an idea of ELIMINATING (E as in SCAMPER) the plastic label on which the customers have to sign their names for checking purposes. The end result is an annual saving of 4 Million dollars plus 3 awards and dozens of media exposure. The teller who submitted the idea received a generous reward for her contribution and the customers enjoy the ease of transaction. This is a classic illustration of INNOVATION: Creating values for all stakeholders.

Michael Michalko practices what he teaches. In his every book, he uses lots of business cases, puzzles and exercises to illustrate his point. I like reading his books because it is both an intellectual and an spiritual / emotional venture. His books are highly practical and a real joy to read and a real treasure to refer to whenever I am stuck. A gem indeed.

In his new book CREATIVE THINKERING, Michael extracted the essence of business creativity and came up with a SINGLE concept (i.e., CONCEPTUAL BLENDING) to explain what can be done to think like a genius. In the introduction of the book, he writes,

“In school you are taught to define, label, and segregate what you learn into separate categories…much like ice cubes in a tray. Once something is learned and categorized, you thoughts become frozen…you are taught, when confronted with a problem, to examine the ice cube tray and select appropriate cube [to kick start your problem solving process] …to come up with marginal improvements…”

The real trick to become a genius is to demolish the barriers and to BLEND unfamiliar concepts to come up with novel ideas. This is where you experience the magic moment of creating something groundbreaking. In this new book by Michael, he is going to show you how to do it. This is the INTELLECTUAL part. The SPIRITUAL / EMOTIONAL part is what I like most. There are a total of 60 extremely inspiring and challenging exercises (in a book with 13 chapters) to reveal weaknesses of your thinking process. No matter how smart you are, you will still learn something valuable. For those who travel a lot, these exercises are going to keep you busy (and happy!) and your long haul flights become much easier. For me, I set IDEA QUOTA for my flights. A short trip to Japan (5 hours), 5 ideas, a long haul to Paris (12 hours), 12 ideas…Of course, make sure you have Michael’s book with you, they are the recipe for imagination! Grab this before your competitors and USE IT!!!

– Kelvin Y C Fung