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In what ways might I write this review?
on June 24, 2003
Cracking Creativity was the first book I read, and reviewed from Michael Michalko, and what a book! Thinkertoys is Michael's first book and my second read. I also own Thinkpack, a creative card deck. All spectacular!
In general, I would say that Thinkertoys is similar to Cracking Creativity, but Thinkertoys offers varied and many different creative techniques, "business creativity for the 90's." Michael explores artists, scientists, and numerous other creative thinkers to which seems the basis of his work. It's amazing the amount of material that was put into this book. Numerous quotes by Sun Tzu, there are also numerous diagrams and puzzles throughout this book. These mindbenders always seem to be related to the chapter, or the discussion at the time. These drawings, puzzles, and brainteasers really convey the message of what this whole book is about. That is what I like about this book is because it shows you, and you have to figure some things out.
The book is set up into 4 different parts. Part One: Linear Thinkertoys, Part Two: Intuitive Thinkertoys, Part three: Group Thinkertoys, Part Four: Endtoys. And in these areas there are numerous techniques, storylines, brainteasers, and flaming hot ideas. It's not hard to try most of the techniques. Most of them merely require a pencil, a piece of paper, a problem or an idea. Michael gives a "Blueprint" (i.e. summary) of every major technique that he covers in the chapters.
I have read other creativity books but Thinkertoys is very exceptional because it seems to me to be more proactive, I see the techniques and I immediately want to try them for myself. Thinkertoys is not just some dry language with endless paragraphs of explanation, as with some creativity books I have read. None of these other books will be mentioned here.
As I have used many of the techniques, I personally like SCAMPER. In addition, I also use "6 Questions" with SCAMPER, and I also use "In what ways might I?" I have set it up and I use like this: For example, I use SCAMPER first on a problem. If I'm stuck on SCAMPER, or the problem, I move to the "6 Questions." If I am still stuck, I then move and use "In what ways might I?" They are all interchangeable, and can be moved or reversed. See,
SCAMPER > 6 Questions > "In what ways might I?"
A powerful combination: SCAMPER
S = Substitute?
C = Create?
A = Add?
M = Modify
P = Put to other uses?
E = Eliminate?
R = Rearrange or Reverse?
Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?
In what ways might I?
This is my own little way to use some of the techniques. There is a large amount of techniques in Thinkertoys and some critical analysis may be in order when reading this book for deciding on which techniques to use. Simply, I use what I like most.
Michael Michalko was interviewed one time and asked about the vast amount of techniques available, his response was: "What's important, I feel, is that readers and clients should not try to memorize specific techniques; rather, they should try to remember the basic principles around which my work in creativity is structured." He also responded, and in essence, I think this comment covers Thinkertoys in general, Michael also said: "Once the basic principles are understood, I always encourage my clients to invent their own creative-thinking techniques."
After using quite a few of the techniques in Michael's two books, I have found some of the techniques becoming easier and reflexive. I have found myself seeing ideas and problems very differently without even concentrating on them; also, I have come up with my own ways to use some of techniques.
This book is a special find. Period.