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Awake at the Wheel: Getting Your Great Ideas Rolling (in an Uphill World) Paperback – May 1, 2008
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What's The Big Idea?; Choosing; Author's Note; The Story of Og; Og Gets an Idea; Dazed By the Possibilities; Aargh!; The Grunt of the Town; Getting Around To It; Og's Head Is Full, But the Cupboard is Empty; The Big Meating; The Path Is Made By Walking On It; Crouch; An Arrow to the Heart of the Matter; Nothing to Get; Smoke From a Fire, Flakes From a Stone; The Happy Accident; The Center is Everything; Sleeping Like a Rock; Follow Your Feet; Everyone's Turn; What Og Learned - 12 Wheely Good Best Practices; Tooling Up - 35 Ways to Get the Wheels Turning; Writing It In Stone - The Tools and Techniques Contest; Nexting - How to Invent the Future; Staying on a Roll - Resources for Thinking Outside the Cave; OgCasting - Your Free Audio Bonus; About the Author
Ditkoff explores the world of ideas and creativity though the story of Og. Og is a caveman who spends more time thinking than the average Neanderthal. He stumbles upon the concept of a circle, and becomes obsessed with what it could mean to the group. Of course, most of his fellow cavemen are more concerned about maintaining the status quo... hunting, eating, staying warm. Og takes a journey to talk with a wise one, and from that trip the wheel is born. But even then, others in his clan are more interested in shooting it down as something that will never work. But one person *does* figure out the practical application, and pretty soon everyone is "rolling along" with the greatest thing since dried mammoth...
I really did like this book. Taking the concept of ideas and putting them in caveman terms freshens up what could be just another book on creativity. At the end of the book are 35 "tools" you can use to spur your own idea machine, as well as how best to make sure these fleeting thoughts don't disappear like smoke from a campfire. Like many companies have done with "Cheese", this should be a mass purchase, handed out to all employees, and then discussed in team meetings. Those who are into this genre will love it, and the Neanderthals who are cynical will likely spend the 30 minutes or so it should take to read it. And they *might* even come out of that experience as the new Og of your organization.
Ditkoff addresses parts of the process of originating and refining an idea. He acknowledges that the problem is more often one selecting from among many, or refining the good ones, rather than in having the basic idea in the first place. And I have to agree: a good idea gets you, not the other way around. I know I've had some ideas sit like a lump in my stomach until I expressed them, one way or another. His advice applies to many domains - the breadth is helpful, but people who deal in specifics might have trouble narrowing it to their applications. The real innovation in this book lie in treating an idea as a problem in communication. If getting it straight in your own mind and as a working prototype is hard, conveying it to someone else is even harder.
The book's real value comes from about 1/3 of its content, towards the end. There, Ditkoff lays out his strategies, almost as a bulleted list, so the busy executive with minimal time can pick them out clearly and succinctly. The first more-than-half of the book expressed the same ideas in user-friendly parable about inventing the wheel. These features represent both a strength and a weakness, depending on your cognitive style - I tends towards a deeper, more thorough style, so Ditkoff's breeziness didn't always work for me. Still, what's here is good, especially Ditkoff's mention of "immersion." Productive minds like those of Twyla Tharp and Santiago Ramon y Cajal stress that, and it's refreshing to see a popular-style book emphasize the value and necessity of plain hard work.
-- wiredweird, reviewing a complimentary copy
I recommend this book for movers and shakers and/or entrepreneurs or anyone that feels stuck in a rut or hopeless when it comes to their ideas. Don't let the simple lay out of the book nor the subtle (and not so subtle) humor distract you from the wisdom that lays just below the surface of the words. You will feel a spark of hope even after reading the first couple of pages.
Take your time to read through the usual topics for a book. Even the acknowledgements portend what is in store for the reader down the road. The quotes sprinkled throughout the story of Og are refreshing and some of them are from people we know very well but may have never heard them say the quote that is captured. I'll not spoil the fun about the footnotes, but if you ever wanted to heal your inner-footnote reader this would be a good time.
The book is rich in content and ideas and the back of the book has at least 35 great ideas that individuals and groups could use to unstick their stuck idea!
Get this book, it's cheaper than filling your car up with gas.