Book of the Week: "Thinkertoys" by Michael Michalko


Thinkertoys: How to See Something Everything Differently

This week I read Thinkertoys, all 665 iBook pages of it, and in a fairly small print. In the past several years, it has been extremely rare for me to buy a book and not end up reading it within a short period of time; however, this is what happened to this book. I purchased the hard copy version at least a couple of years ago, and always looked forward to reading it—believing it was a book that had practical knowledge in it. The reason I never read the hard copy book was its size, it is more of a text book than one you can simply hold in your hand to read.

Now that I have finally read it, I recognize that my gut feelings were correct, namely that this book had many nuggets of information that I believe are useful to me in both my personal and professional life. According to the author, “Thinkertoys train you how to get ideas. They are specific hands-on techniques that enable the reader to come up with big or small ideas, ideas that make you money, solve problems, beat the competition, and further your career; ideas for new products and new ways of doing things.” 

Ultimately, the book will help you achieve the following: “You will find yourself looking at the same information everyone else is looking at yet seeing something different. This new and different way of seeing things will lead you to new ideas and unique insights.”

This book is really more of a workbook for individuals that want to learn tips, strategies, and techniques to be more creative—by putting structure in, and to the creative thought process. He divides the book in two main types of creative thought processes: 1.) Linear Thinking and 2.)Intuitive Thinking. 

Although I forced myself to read the entire book in one week, this really should be used as a reference book as to how to perform Creative Inducing Activities—whether for a business owner that wants to individually think of more creative ideas, or for corporations that are looking to create brainstorming sessions, such as those used for sales teams at corporate retreats.

While most of the author’s examples are what I would term active strategies to induce creative thinking, he also discussed the benefits of “relaxation and meditation.” He has several techniques that “produce alpha brain waves that are slower and deeper than beta waves. Alpha waves quiet your mind so you can see the solutions that are already there.” Essentially, he says sometimes our brains are firing so much, that we don’t benefit from information and creativity that may be found in our alpha brain waves. 

A great analogy of this is as follows: “Stars cannot be seen during the day, because their faint points of light are overwhelmed by the sun. In a similar way, some ideas cannot be discovered because their faint points of light are overwhelmed by your brain’s active beta waves, which are as noisy as a goose eating dominoes.”

The book contains lots of interesting facts, stories, analogies and mental puzzles. For anyone that wants to read a book that offers some concrete strategies and tips on how to be more creative, I highly recommend this book. 

As a personal side note, I was convinced that if I read this book, it would have to make me smarter. After finishing the book, I don’t feel any smarter, but I do believe I now have new ways of viewing problems and attacking them in a more creative fashion.

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Ana - January 30, 2012 12:30 PM

This book is great for brainstorming !

Ana - January 30, 2012 12:31 PM

This book is great for brainstorming !

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