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4.8 out of 5 stars
Jack's Notebook: A business novel about creative problem solving
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Earlier today I was reading some book reviews written by others regarding some of the books I have recently reviewed myself. I was looking at some of the reviews for Smart Women and Small Business (ISBN: 0471778680) and one of the reviewers wrote:

"Honestly, I have yet to read a book that truly has creative ideas on how to make the leap from a salaried job to the right small business with as little risk as possible, which I feel holds many back."

Well, I suspect the instant book, Jack's Notebook, is probably a book she has missed, because it does go into depth explaining how its star character Jack used the Creative Problem Solving (CPS) process to make the leap from a salaried job to the right small business.

The author explains how the CPS process involves three phases: (1) Problem Exploration, (2) Brainstorming, and (3) Getting into Action. And the six steps of CPS were identified as follows:

1. ID the Challenge

2. Facts and Feelings Exploration

3. Problem Framing and Reframing

4. Idea Generation

5. Solution Development

6. Action Planning

It's just a rehash of the same old story my father used to tell me until it sunk in. He'd say: "Son, you've got a problem. You first have to understand your problem. Then you think up the various alternatives to solving your problem (and you can because you understand it). And then pick one of those alternatives and do it." The author even says somewhere in the book: If you really understand a problem, solutions come easily.

So if you want to jump out of the corporate rat-race and start your own business, and you are procrastinating the move, then I recommend you read this book. I seriously believe it will help you take the necessary steps to follow your dreams. 5 stars!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2007
Jack has climbed beanstalks, sold cows, beaten giants and entertained readers and storylisteners from more than 150 years. Now he has done saved the damsel, solved a business problem and beaten yet another horrible giant (business), while teaching the reader principles about creative thinking and introducing the most famous CREATIVE SOLVING PROCESS, the Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem Solving Process.

"Jack's Notebook" is a fun read, A page turner throughout from when Jack first meets his mentor on a rainy night to when he meets the damsel Molly and finally teams up with many creative people to save two damsels.

I highly recommend Gregg's book for people to learn more about creative thinking and creative problem solving and to people who enjoy reading a "page turner" mystery novel.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
There's a new concept arising for business books - books that are entertaining, easy to read and leave you with a much better understanding of a methodology or concept. Patrick Lencioni is probably the recognized leader of this genre. I'd call it the business novel. Authors using this approach mix theory and methodology with a character driven plot.

Leoncini has written several books to examine how teams work together and how to improve meetings using this approach, and I've reviewed the book Follow the Other Hand, in which Andy Cohen uses a magician as the deus ex machina to drive insights for a business owner. Gregg Fraley, a consultant in the innovation space, has just completed a book about innovation focused on the Creative Problem Solving process called Jack's Notebook.

Fraley has several purposes in mind for the book. First, he wants to communicate the methodology and power of the Creative Problem Solving (CPS) technique. If you don't know, Creative Problem Solving was developed by Alex Osborn, who is considered the "father" of brainstorming. You can learn more about CPS and other concepts related to it at the Creative Education Foundation. Second, he is interested in reaching small business owners and entrepreneurs to help them become more adept at problem solving and innovation, so his book is not targeted at the traditional mid-level manager in a large business, although there are topics within the book that are applicable to anyone in business. Finally, Fraley wanted to write a book that would capture the reader's attention, not to become a dry, coffee table book that you "should" have but never read.

Jack's Notebook is a story about a down on his luck guy named Jack who meets a consultant who is an expert in the CPS approach. Jack learns how to think differently about his life and the possibilities to create a new business. Jack also meets a lovely young woman who becomes his girlfriend and who mysteriously disappears. Jack uses the CPS approach and partners with the consultant to solve the mystery and create a new business. That's the simple, one paragraph overview.

Fraley does a good job of introducing the CPS concepts and methodology and interspersing it with the story as it unfolds. The book moves very quickly and has a fairly thin plot, since it is trying to accomplish two goals at once - educate you on CPS and keep the story moving. Towards the end of the novel some of the CPS threads are lost, as the hero is trying to recover his girlfriend. At the end of the book there's a good, short overview of CPS and how it works.

Jack's Notebook is a quick read and does a good job introducing the reader to critical problem solving skills. As I've noted, the plot can be a little thin, and a reader who approaches this book with the traditional "business book" mentality may find that the stories and the examples don't reflect life in the cube farm. Most of the action happens in a coffee shop or in other outside locales and focuses on the efforts to start up a photography business, so there's not a lot of insight into corporate creativity or problem solving. However, a lot of the concepts discussed are applicable to anyone at any level.

If you know someone who wants to be more creative, or who is seeking more ideas or a new process to solve problems or generate ideas, buy Jack's Notebook for them. It is a good read and a great introduction to a very sophisticated but simple process.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I first discovered Gregg Fraley's new book Jack's Notebook: A business novel about creative problem solving on InBubbleWrap.com. Gregg's diverse background, founding and managing high-flying technology companies to working as a television producer, captured my imagination. I thought, "a man with such an interesting career path must have something compelling share." I was right. Gregg shares the Creative Problem Solving (CPS) process in Jack's Notebook that's an essential tool that knowledge workers should learn.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
As most people know, this book uses a fictional story to relate the concepts of creativity and how to use brainstorming, lists, reframing and other methods for creative thinking.

The book has an interesting plot that should keep the reader turning the pages through the book, especially through the first 100 pages. The last half of the book veers slightly off track from the Creative Problem Solving (CPS) process that Fraley is trying to describe, but it is still an interesting read.

The story follows the main character named "Jack" (surprised?) as he realizes that there is something more to life. Jack meets a mentor who explains the concepts of brainstorming and other creative thinking methods and helps Jack understand what it is that he wants to do in life. The major portion of the book follows a few different stories with the major plot finding Jack falling in love and then having to find ways to keep his new-found love alive (literally).

I would recommend the book to anyone new to the creative thinking world since it brings the concepts of brainstorming and Creative Problem Solving to the reader in a manner that is easy to read and understand.

I would tell people that have had some training in creative thinking to pass on the book if they were looking for deeper understanding of concepts. That said, even if you are knowledgeable in this area, you might still enjoy this book....it does provide a good fictional story that has some intelligence built in.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2007
A very successful/creative attempt to demonstrate a theoretical process for thinking creatively in novel form. Using two fictional examples -- the first explores the career wishes of Jack, the second explores solutions to finding Jack's suspiciously missing girl friend -- an approach to solving problems that is not popularly understood is explicated and demonstrated in an intriguing and fun way. Supplemented with a Quick Reference Guide to the process and tips from the author, Gregg Fraley has presented a very approachable guide to creative problem solving that anyone looking for more creative approaches to everyday personal and business challenges should read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I am a young entrepreneur running a software development company. I found this book to be very easy to read and the novel style makes it easy to understand the entire CPS process. I could not put this book down as I wanted to know more and more about Jack's daily problems and encounters. I would definitely recommend this book to any young entrepreneur out there trying to move forward with their ideas and passions.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2010
I've got a really fresh brain after this weekend because I read Jack's Notebook by creativity and innovation expert Gregg Fraley, it's my first time reading a literal business novel so it was refreshing to have a book put my visual senses to work and putting me in the story. Jack's Notebook is essentially about a guy named Jack Huber and his friend Manny who is a professional problem solver that helps Jack get his life straight through the use of CPS (Creative problem solving) to solve his work and personal problems.

So what is CPS? It's a technique developed by Alex Osborn who coined the term brainstorming and it basically helps you have more ideas and therefore more solutions to any problem you encounter. CPS brings order to the chaos that is solving problems, it's a systematic process of creating lists and then making decisions. That simple!

Like business and life, the story has twists and turns and the problems that Jack faces are solved using CPS in a very simple way. This leaves you with this feeling of `uh that was easy!' and I think this is really the big takeaway most people will get from the book...solving problems doesn't have to be hard, it can be fun!

So if you're stuck in a corner and always seem to do the same thing over and over again with the same result because you try the same old ideas then I recommend you read this book. In fact even if you think you're pretty fly at solving problems already and don't think you need anymore lecturing, you should read this book because most likely your brain has gone stale and need some refreshing...we all do!

Mr. Fraley has given us a notebook with all his secrets and he wants to help us solve our problems in a fun way and the plus is it's also a great story. Get it. Read it. Start your own notebook.

Once you've read it, follow Gregg Fraley on Twitter and tell him what you think.

P.S. Thank you Mr. Fraley!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Gregg Fraley does for the creativity world what Patrick Lencioni does for the business world.

In his book Jack's Notebook we follow the life of Jack as he encounters a creative problem solving consultant who introduces him to a simple and life-changing process.

Rather than simply writing about this process, this books tells a story (which everyone knows is the best way to learn anything). I opened the book, eager to learn more about creativity and a creative process, but was soon captivated by the story.

So buy it now, pick it up, because you won't want to put it down once you do.

Need more convincing? Here are a few of my favorite quips and quotes:

Creativity is a lot more than artistic expression. It's a myth that to be creative you must be artistic. Everyone is creative whether he [or she] is artistically inclined or not. (ix)

Training kids to be really great at getting the one perfect answer does them the disservice of training them not to think about all kinds of answers, all kinds of options. (45-6)

Scholars have concluded that the larger the number of ideas you generate, the more likely it is you will have a breakthrough idea. In other words, quantity gets you to quality. (50)

The best ideas are the ones you actually take action on. Until you act, you have nothing except words on a page. (88)

(If I've convinced you that you need more but you're more into reading pixels on a screen than ink in a page, check out Gregg's updates on twitter at twitter.com/greggfraley.)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2009
Jack's Notebook is one of the most interesting and compelling books I've read in quite some time. This is due in part because I am at a transition stage in life similar to the main character, Jack. It is also due to the way it was written: Jack's Notebook teaches Creative Problem Solving (CPS) techniques while telling a story. This is simply amazing! I have never experienced a process of teaching the way Gregg Fraley presented CPS in Jack's Notebook. I read the book hoping to find a different method of solving problems and learn a creative process. While reading I found myself so absorbed in the story that the lessons and techniques were assimilated without effort. I give Jack's Notebook five (5) stars and have purchased two (2) additional copies as gifts already. If you find yourself in a life or career transition or want to learn more about the Creative Problem Solving method get this book now.
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