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The Five Faces of Genius: Creative Thinking Styles to Succeed at Work Paperback – February 26, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reissue edition (February 26, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142000353
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142000359
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #573,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"It teaches people about the nature of creativity and how to cultivate it." Fast Company

"Moser-Wellman has given us five different perspectives from which to creatively tackle business challenges." Carla J. Paonessa, Managing Partner, Accenture

About the Author

Annette Moser-Wellman is the president of Firemark, Inc., a consulting and marketing firm whose clients include Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, and Hewlett Packard. She is a former director and vice president of Leo Burnett Advertising and is a contributing writer for Brandweek magazine. She lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By T.D. on November 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
But so are most books of this type. The book's best feature is a nice combination of detail with theory. There are lots of exercises and a generally cheery "you can do it!" tone. That's good, but the book's recurring emphasis on developing multi-modal approaches to problem-solving is better (i.e., creativity means trying approaches you're not as familiar with). Concluding sections on interacting with people of dominant types that differ from you, and how to sell your ideas to them, is probably worth the cover price alone.

The author loves examples. These examples are not always correct (salons peaked in the 1700s, not the "seventeenth century" to cite one of more than a dozen examples), nor do they fit as neatly into their creative categories as the author supposes. In part, though, the reader comes to see this as the unique characteristics of a certain creative style--seeing this and making allowance for it is good practice for the rest of the book. After all, true creativity is aware of variant creative modes, especially in colleagues or even competitors.

The morning after skimming the entire book I began to experiment with some of its suggestions. Within two hours I had come up with a metaphor that will solve one of the most intractable process problems for my company--an idea that literally took my breath away, on something I'd been struggling with for months. I put a lot of work in; this book didn't give me any answers. But in a sense it reminded me of the answer, or gave me ideas about how and where to look for the answer. I was a college football player already, to use a metaphor, and this was a long look at a pro playbook. It won't work unless you're playing college ball; if you're a top pro player, you should look at something more advanced. But if you want to develop a basis of creative talent, this'll help.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Keith Appleyard on December 27, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book starts off a quick précis of the 5 faces : Seer, Observer, Alchemist, Fool, Sage. Then it gives a self-assessment of which Styles you are currently using. I scored highest on Fool & Observer, and lowest on Sage.
As I read through the book, I was disillusioned as to its worth. But when I got to Fool, I thought "that's me exactly" (there's no shame in being a 'Fool' in this schema).
So I looked back at the earlier chapters, and thought maybe the questions & examples were not as appropriate as they might have been?
Anyway, I began to appreciate the book more. Certainly the latter sections on how to apply the 5 different styles at work, and the strengths & weaknesses of teams who find themselves with & without all these players, were of more use than the theorising.
There are other books offering rival schemas, but I think this one is as good as any of the others, and easier to read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After interpreting the text for a little while, I reached the conclusion that the author was trying to convey a hidden message, a message related to computer programming. I wouldn’t give away the secret, except that the five types offer a potentially trashy view of what it means to succeed. The five types really relate to (1) The Parser, (2) Programming, (3) The Program, (4) Information, and (5) Consciousness. As metaphorical as these seem, it is hard to divorce them from the concept of computer programming, if that is what they are. Consciousness is the attempt to make the system balanced, and is expressed erroneously as Simplicity. The somewhat easy translation from five ‘personalities’ to computer programming makes me think that a programmer wrote it, maybe even Bill Gates. Not everyone succeeds in the book world, however, by virtue of his elite status in society, Bill Gates would have a shot at it, even if he were to write pseudonymously.

Anyway, I’m not usually inspired on the subject of categories of genius: I’m even tempted to think this author is right about every one of his ideas. Certainly the book seems nearly immune to criticism. Since not all the titles are given literally, there is a lot of room for duplicity and under- or perhaps over-translation, (the way some people see it). I have tried hard and in vain to find a similar book (probably called the Two Faces of Genius, but I haven’t located it yet), which describes a Innovator style, or else an Inspired style. I found that book more appealing as a real personality system for geniuses, which is why I have given this book four stars instead of five. I also find the distinction between the Seer type and the Sage type to be undifferentiated. Perhaps some of the clarity was lost from previous editions?
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By Jeff M. Brown on March 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
Author Annette Moser-Wellman shows people of all types how to tap their innate reservoirs of creativity to solve business problems. The book contains a quiz designed to allow you to gauge your strengths in each of the creative styles from which the book takes its title - the Seer, the Observer, the Alchemist, the Fool and the Sage. My results from the quiz revealed that I have strengths in several of the types, but my strongest Face was the Fool - and many of that type's attributes do indeed fit me.

The book provides real-world business examples to illustrate the creative strengths of each type, provides exercises designed to build your strengths in the styles you're weak in, and provides advice for working with different creative styles on the same team. The author makes a compelling case for the proposition that the key to a successful caree is finding meaning in one's work, and the surest way to do that is to master your creativity in order to enjoy your work.

jeffbrownlegal@gmail.com
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