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Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius Paperback – June 26, 2001

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Editorial Reviews


"Creative-thinking expert Michael Michalko offers a series of idea-inspiring resources and techniques. . . . CRACKING CREATIVITY is peppered with anecdotes and exercises to help push you to your creative limit." — How“Sometimes the craziest ideas are the most inspired. . . . "You don't have to score 1600 on the SATs or build your own computer to approach your craft with genius. . . .[this] book is filled with exercises that illustrate the benefits of looking at problems from different angles." — TheOrlando Sentinel"CRACKING CREATIVITY unveils the secrets of creative genius and brings life-changing creative techniques into everyone's reach. By comparing the thinking strategies of over 100 of history's most creative minds, the book shows readers how to approach problems with new vision and discover a world of innovative solutions to everyday challenges."—New Equipment Digest "CRACKING CREATIVITY delivers an arsenal of powerful creative thinking tools that can be used to tackle virtually any type of technical problem and create new ideas. The closest thing we have to a tactical instruction manual for thinking like a genius." —American Creativity Association

About the Author

MICHAEL MICHALKO is a leading creativity expert who specializes in leading creative thinking workshops, seminars on fostering creativity, and think tanks. His clients range from Fortune 500 corporations such as DuPont, Xerox, Kellogg's, General Electric, Kodak, Microsoft, Exxon, General Motors, Ford, AT&T, WalMart, and Hallmark to governmental agencies. As an officer in the U.S. Army, Michalko organized a team of NATO specialists and international academics in Frankfurt, Germany, to research, collect, and categorize all known inventive thinking methods. After leaving military service, he was contracted by the CIA to facilitate think tanks and brainstorming sessions. Michalko currently works with clients worldwide.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ten Speed Press; New edition edition (June 26, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580083110
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580083119
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Michael Michalko is one of the most highly acclaimed creativity experts in the world. As an officer in the U.S. Army, Michael organized a team of NATO intelligence specialists and international academics in Frankfurt, Germany, to research, collect, and categorize all known inventive-thinking methods. His team applied the methods to various NATO military, political, and social problems and produced a variety of breakthrough ideas and creative solutions to new and old problems. Michael later applied these creative-thinking techniques to problems in the corporate world with outstanding successes. The companies he worked with were thrilled with the breakthrough results they achieved, and Michael has since been in the business of developing and teaching creative-thinking workshops and seminars for corporate clients around the world.


He is also the author of Thinkpak (A Brainstorming Card Set), which is a novel creative-thinking tool that is designed to facilitate brainstorming sessions; Cracking Creativity (The Secrets of Creative Geniuses)which describes the common thinking strategies creative geniuses have used in the sciences, art, and industry throughout history and shows how we can apply them to become more creative in our business and personal lives; and Creative Thinkering which describes how to synthesize dissimilar subjects to create breakthrough ideas.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

122 of 134 people found the following review helpful By J. Reich on December 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
A book for inventors, craftsmen, artisans, scientists, businesses, teachers, and most of all us students.
Michael Michalko's book made many areas fall into place for me, not to mention assisting my individual creative landscape, exercising my field of study, and mobilizing my creative engine.
Over the past year, I have been heavily engaged in memory improvement. Busy in such areas as loci mnemonics, peg systems, hypnosis, and many other regions. Cracking Creativity showed how rigid my thinking had become.
For example, pg.42 there is an experiment where students were separated into two groups. The groups were asked to read a passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. One group was asked to simply learn the passage and the other group were asked to read from "multiple perspectives," example: an author's perspective, another person perspective, also including their own perspective. Which group learned more information? Of course, the group that used multiple perspectives outperformed the other group. Furthermore Michael elaborates on this process and places many ideas on the table. He called this subchapter "Da Vinci's Multiple Perspectives," further along the chapter he elaborates "Take on a Different Role," then "Imagine You Are the Problem" and many more areas further along that blend to create a vast pool of creative thinking. I found this particular area very useful. Michael does not simply show problems in creativity without a creative plan-of-action for facilitation. He brings creative solutions to mind and elaborates on them in detail. He gives many examples for looking at a problem or solution, in many different perspectives.
Strategy Six: Looking At The Other Side, is an outstanding section in which paradoxes are shown and analyzed.
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51 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Kelvin Y C Fung on April 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
If you type in the word CREATIVITY in any search engine, you are likely to get a REALLY LONG list of relevant titles and information. How can you tell which title is better? For me the best title would be the one that prompts you to THINK and come up with something ACTIONABLE.
Packed with facinating stories, mind-stretching exercises, inspirating quotes, funny visuals, step-by-step guidelines and checklists, Michalko has successfully written two CLASSICS on the subject of Creativity. The two books give you ALL the powerful tools and techniques you need to generate creative ideas in split second. The tools are so useful that I have copies of the books, both at home and in my office.
I consider Thinkertoys as the ENCYCLOPAEDIA of creative thinking (TOOLS) while Cracking Creativity will definitely give you the MAGIC RECIPE (IDEA GENERATING PROCESS), which gaurantees creative output every time.
Get yourself a copy, I am sure you will find it ENTERTAINING and practical. I am looking forward to Michalko's third book on the subject. I am sure it will be another great hit!
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53 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
According to Michalko, what are the best strategies for "cracking" the barriers to human creativity?

o Knowing how to see
o Making a thought visible
o Thinking fluently
o Making novel combinations
o Connecting the unconnected
o Looking at the other side
o Looking in other worlds
o Finding what you are not looking for
o Awakening the collaborative spirit

The phrases "can activate" and "can enable" correctly suggest potentiality. However, if you are already convinced that you cannot think more creatively, you won't. Henry Ford once observed that those who think they can and those who think they can't are both right.

Cracking Creativity will help you to develop the skills needed to release from within all manner of ideas, perspectives, and insights which (until now) have been suppressed. When we face an especially complicated problem or especially difficult question, he suggests that we ask "What are the alternatives and options? How should each be evaluated? Where are there possible connections? Perhaps synergies?" Of course, after we think outside the box and come up with really cool stuff, we have to figure out how to get it back into the box. Perhaps that is another book Michalko will one day write.

On average, humans use only 15-17% of the cerebral cortex, that portion of the brain where the most important intellectual transactions occur. No guarantees, of course, but chances are that a careful reading of Cracking Creativity will increase the percentage you use. What are you waiting for?
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Lee Say Keng on July 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
The first time I encountered 'Thinkertoys' it was actually the first edition released during the early 90's, when it was also about the time I began to explore the various options with regard to my mid-life transition. In fact, I had initially spotted an interesting review in the Entrepreneur magazine.

I managed to trace the publisher & had immediately ordered the first 100 copies for my debut bookstore. It became the best seller in my store for many years. Then came 'Cracking Creativity' a few years later as well as the accompanying brainstorming card deck, Thinkpak, to 'Thinkertoys'.

What impressed me most is not so much the creativity tools outlined in both books. In fact, the most productive learning experiences I got out of both books are a few very important things, which I would like to share with readers.

Let's take a look at Thinkertoys. In the Introduction, the author started off with a visual puzzle: 'Can you identify the figure below?'

Only by shifting your focus, you can then see the hidden word within the figure.

In the author's own words, " changing your perspectives, you can expand your possibilities..."

Let's move to 'Cracking Creativity'. In the Introduction, the author introduced a simple arithmetic equation: What is half of thirteen?

The subsequent passages as outlined in Part I: Seeing What No One else in Seeing, & Strategy I: Knowing How to See, by the author revealed the secrets to getting many possible answers (or perspectives) to the above equation.
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