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VINE VOICEon November 21, 2007
I received a new book to review called Think Better. The subtitle is "An innovator's guide to productive thinking" and the book was written by Tim Hurson from Thinkx.

There are a LOT of new books on innovative thinking, or just innovation in general, so I was a little leery of another book, but I found this one to be very insightful and useful. There's a lot to like, and a lot to use, in this book, whether you happen to hail from the consulting and services oriented side of innovation, or are just starting out and want your internal corporate team to become more productive innovative thinkers.

I'll admit to being a bit jaded, and the first few sections of the book offer more of a history lesson about innovation and innovative thinking than I felt necessary, but for those approaching the topic for the first time, the concepts of the monkey mind and gator brain are compelling, since they demonstrate that our current methods of thinking avoid risk and most often simply react to threats or patterns. The book starts to get really interesting in the fourth chapter, which deals with resisting the urge to quickly arrive at an answer. Instead, the book encourages us to "Stay with the Question". In his approach, Hurson sucks us in, peeling the onion a little at a time and getting agreement, till we are in violent agreement that we must change drastically. Then he rolls out section three of his book, which outlines a process for creative and innovative thinking, supported by a number of simple but powerful tools.

The phases describe a method to generate better ideas, use some divergent then convergent thinking to stretch them, then move on to evaluate and determine which ideas should be considered for evaluation. What I also like is that he adds a step for deciding actions and assigning resources. Too often we get excited about selecting ideas for further investigation without determining and identifying the resources and plans necessary for the critical next steps. Along this process he introduces a number of tools: the I-cube or the C-5 or the DRIVE model, all of which are relatively easy to use and bring shape and focus around thinking and decision making that traditionally has been very subjective.

I like this book because it aligns to what seems right to me - a useful process that anyone can follow to obtain better thinking and better ideas. From our experience in larger organizations, a defined set of steps or phases is necessary to help people understand what has happened, what should happen now and what should happen next. I think the next thing Tim and his team will need to do is decide how to "scale" this capability so that the thinking permeates an organization and the approach becomes a common one across organizations rather than simply in enlightened pockets. Of course, that's something near and dear to my heart.

Creative productive thinking is a great first step. However, creativity without action is interesting but ultimately a sideshow. Tim defines a method to help people think more creatively, but also outlines a set of steps and tools to move an idea through a consistent process to an ultimate conclusion. That's moving from creativity to innovation, and eventually from ideas to new products, services or business models.

Reposted from my original review on the Innovate on Purpose blog
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on March 21, 2008
Tim Hurson's "Think Better" is not a treatise for armchair philosophers but an action-packed thriller, an exciting travel guide from theory to practice.

Productive thinking, Hurson argues, generates new things, as opposed to reproductive thinking, which refines what is known. It is the deliberate search for breakthrough rather than incremental change and it is powered by the alternation of creative and critical thinking.

The book presents a model which includes a rigorous method and superb practical tools and techniques that have been designed, developed and successfully tested in real life by the author. In the process, thinkers are urged to balance facts and feelings, information and imagination, aspirations and action and persevere through the "third third" of the brainstorm - that final stretch where the really great ideas emerge.

The clear writing style and the well-organized content are enhanced by quality story-telling that gives the book soul, with true stories (hospitals, insurance companies, furniture, space travel) as well as imaginary ones (how an airline might make its middle seats attractive).

Tim Hurson has clearly done a lot of productive thinking about productive thinking in this contemporary and comprehensive work, which constitutes a major contribution to the literature of creatively confronting challenges.
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on March 15, 2008
THINK BETTER by Tim Hurson is a thorough presentation of highly useful working tools for creative idea generation to creative problem solving.

Though I have been teaching the Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem Solving Process Model since 1978 I learned many things through the complete presentation that Tim makes in THINK BETTER.

In the book he provides his interpretation of the OP CPS Process and adds several excellent tools to make the OP CPS Process more effective in either workplace or personal problems.

This is an excellent book for people who are trying to learn much about how to use a complete process fro examining challenges, generating ideas, narrowing down those ideas into potential solutions and developing workable plans and to go through a planning process in order to increase the potential results.
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on October 31, 2007
I'm struggling with a problem right now. In fact, you could say i'm in the dark days - trying to figure out how to make a business initiative work - or, alternatively, whether to walk away from it completely. Tim's book helped me. It arrived in my life at the right time and it's philosophy, ideas and exercises are helping me resolve my challenge.

The book is based on a fundamental principle: that success is based more on how we think than what we think we know!

Reading the book reassured me that thinking and feeling my way through a problem is, indeed, hard. It's so hard that I want to avoid it altogether. Tim tells stories about how our minds succumb easily to distractions, reflexive action, and previous patterns. And that, hard as it is, it's important to stay in the question - and keep asking questions - until the mind can see a lot of answers and decide which one's are worth pursuing and improving. These reminders are both inspiring and reassuring in a time of problemsolving.

Tim's book offers more than deep insight. It gave me some specific strategies and exercises I could apply to my own challenge.

And I also love his use of language. He provides a Glossary at the end of the book that summarizes some of the language he applies to more productive thinking. He talks about the Imagined Future (the IF world), how to "power up" a solution, and how to brainslip (silent brainstorming). If we all just encorporated some of his language into our worlds, we'd find ourselves solving our most challenging problems - in a more successful and satisfying way.
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on October 31, 2007
I consider myself a pretty creative person, so why do I need a book? Because Think Better helps me understand how I can translate imaginative thinking to more productive ends and still have fun.
Plus, Hurson does his readers a great service by explaining the difference between good and bad brainstorming. Many of us have been in "brainstorming" sessions that produced anemic results. This book explains why and tells how to assure that your teams get past the initial, mundane ideas into the creative territory where new possibilities emerge. Hurson writes, you can tell a good brainstorming session because the idea produce plenty of maybes... Hmmm.
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on October 7, 2007
Think better, work better, do better...who doesn't want all of this? Tim Hurson's book illuminates how distractions, instinctual responses and engrained thinking patterns make it so difficult for us to come up with new and creative solutions to the challenges we face. Then he shows us how to break out of those traps and think more productively.

Productive thinking results from successfully separating creative thinking from critical thinking -- separating the generation of ideas from the judging of ideas. Too often we conduct these two thinking processes simultaneously. Tim believes we can learn how to separate creative and critical thinking and he provides simple and useful tools to improve our productive thinking skills.

But this isn't just another dry book about self-improvement. Tim shows us how to think more productively in an engaging and humorous way with anecdotes and examples that will make you say AHA! again and again as you read Think Better. Read this book and think better instantly!!!
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on January 26, 2008
Thinking more creatively requires a little thought. Actually, very little thought. And Hurson hits the head squarely on the nail with "Think Better."
He outlines simple techniques. Easy to use. Easy to remember. Easy to continue using long after you give the book to someone else (which you should).
Why this stuff isn't taught in business school is a mystery to me. Take Hurson's POWER principle as an example. POWER is an acronym for a process that turns mediocre ideas (not hard to come by) into much better ideas (not difficult to achieve) in a few minutes. This kind of thinking will produce fewer bad ideas, and give the good ones better odds for succeeding.
Don't waste your time reading reviews. Read the book. Now.
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on May 28, 2008
Thinking is intuitive. Thinking is common sense. Thinking is hard wired into humans. If all this is true, more people would put common sense into common action. It's not the case, though is it?.

When one understands, one can make decisions more easily, more quickly and more correctly. Tim Hurson's book whacks it out of the park so well, we purchased 150 copies for clients and will follow up with them to make sure they read it and, well "Think Better" to dramatically improve their business.

As Tim writes on page 10 of his must read book, "The ability to think better will soon become the most significant competitive advantage companies and individuals can claims. Thinking better is what it's all about."

Our company trains insurance agents (Throw the eggs now) to help their employer clients better understand what they pay so dearly for. The word insurance seems to connote the worst images...an intangible concept that is difficult to understand, costs too much and does not perform when one needs it.

Page 88-Perceive a problem. Pick a solution. Do something. Finding the real problem to create broader solutions takes training. Tim shows one how to analyze properly, find the solution and implement. Not only is one step difficult for too many business people, but putting all three into action, is almost impossible for most. Isn't the goal to at least beat Paretto's 80-20 principle?

The insurance business is replete with "This is how it's always been done. This is the way to do it now." If readers will follow Tim's Productive Thinking Model framework, it will help them think better, think more effectively, and think more powerfully. We'll finally hear no more "This is how it's always been done."

Makes sense to us. It will to you also.
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on November 5, 2007
Being the owner of a brand communications agency, I and my team are constantly faced with the challenge of coming up with new, productive ideas. Sometimes the process seems to depend on personal skills that are hard to manage and slightly mysterious. This book shows otherwise. It is a comprehensive and practical guide to creative thinking that clearly and engagingly describes techniques that enable individuals and teams to think more productively and successfully.

It rivals the best books on creative thinking including the classics: Oech's A WHACK ON THE SIDE OF THE HEAD: How You Can Be More Creative, and Bono's Six Thinking Hats.
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on December 11, 2007
Think Better will help you realize the power of disciplined thinking in an undisciplined way. More than just a thinking tool, this book taps into the innate ways in which an individual can come up with unique and breakthrough ideas. Most powerful of all these techniques is the power of divergent thinking uninhibited by critical review until necessary. An excellent book and a great tool.
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