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A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative Paperback – May 5, 2008
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'Business brilliance!' -- USA Today 'This new WHACK is even more potent.' -- Betty Edwards, author of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain 'What a technique!' -- ABC's 20/20 'Using this product may beat consulting the I Ching.' -- Fortune 'Roger von Oech has won a loyal following around the country.' -- BusinessWeek 'Very refreshing...a book about how to get through life!' -- Richard Bolles, Author of What Color Is Your Parachute 'Roger von Oech runs alps around everyone else in the creativity consulting business.' -- San Francisco Examiner 'A wonderfully entertaining book that will enhance your creative ability. It will make a difference in your life!' -- James Adams, author of Conceptual Blockbusting
About the Author
Roger von Oech is the president of Creative Think, a California-based consulting firm that has conducted creativity seminars with such companies as American Express, Apple Computer, AT&T, CBS, IBM, NBC, and NASA. He earned his doctorate from Stanford University in a self-conceived program in the history of ideas.
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- A Whack on the Side of the Head;
- A Kick in the Seat of the Pants;
- Expect the Unexpected;
- Creative Whack Pack;
- Innovative Whack Pack;
- Ancient Whacks of Heraclitus;
I have used all his creativity stuff ever since I started my own strategy consulting (& book store) business in late 1991.
From my personal & professional experience, I would like to say that the entire collection of Roger von Oech's creative work has been designed to serve three strategic purposes:
- understanding - & removing - your mental blocks;
- breaking your habitual patterns;
- shifting your focus & changing your paradigms;
As a matter of fact, once you appreciate & commit to these three strategic purposes in your life, you will soon realise that there is nothing in this world to stop you from getting rid of old ideas & getting new & fresh ideas.
Allow me to quote Edward de Bono: "...the mind is habitually uncreative - it is usually preoccupied with organising masses of incoming data into convenient patterns. Once this pattern is established, then the mind tends to rely upon that pattern in future situations, in order to facilitate decision making & action in an otherwise complex world..." (The Use of Lateral Thinking).
Breaking old habitual patterns is definitely the first & foremost priority in your journey to creativity!
Once your shift your focus, you begin to change your paradigms or the way you look at the world around you. Always remember this: Your brain follows the direction of your dominant thought. Once you focus on something, that thing becomes the foreground. Everything else around it will fall into the background. Most opportunties are unfortunately hidden in the background. The moment you begin to shift your focus, you are pushing the 'foreground' into the 'background', & pulls the 'background' into the 'foreground'. Get it?
'A Whack on the Side of the Head' will help you to break through your mental blocks. They will open up your mind for innovation. This book is filled with provocative puzzles, exercises, stories & helpful tips.
'A Kick in the Seat of the Pants' takes you on a guided tour through the four stereotype roles of the creative process - Explorer, Artist, Judge & Warrior. Understanding - & applying - these roles will fire up your personal & professional creativity. Tactically, they will change your mental focus as you change to play each of the four roles. I would like to add one more role from what I have learned from the Japanese creativity experts: Antique Dealer. This singular role will allow you to combine all the four roles into one.
'Expect the Unexpected' uses thirty of Heraclitus' (the world's first creativity master) epigrams as creative springboards. It has intriguing questions designed to topple old habits of thought & fire up your imagination.
All the three card decks are basically extensions of the three books, to allow convenient usage during brainstorming sessions.
From my strategy consulting experience, these three card decks have proven to be inexhaustible sources of inspirations.
In fact, the 'Innovative Whack Pack' combines the creative power of both the 'Creative Whacks' & 'Ancient Whacks of Heraclitus'.
I strongly urge readers to seriously consider having the entire collection of Roger von Oech's creative work added to your Creativity & Innovation Library, & all the three card decks placed permanently on your desk top at all times.
[Readers who are keen to explore further ramifications about mental blocks, should read James Adams' 'Conceptual Blockbusting'. This book, written in th mid-70's, gives a detailed treatment by classifying them into Perceptual, Emotional, Cultural & Environmental, Intellectual & Expressive Blocks. A marvellous piece of work, I must say. Charles 'Chic' Thompson's 'Yes...But: The Top 40 Killer Phrases & How to Fight Them' is also worth reading.]
It's core principle of "what's your 2nd and 3rd idea" (paraphrasing) is a useful one though - think of many possible solutions instead of just going with the first one.
The writing style was a bit tedious to me too - take one theory or statement, like "people use metaphors", and then fill pages upon pages of anecdotes that support that theory ("when people are tired they say *burning out*"). Plus some name-dropping of big corporations he's taught seminars too. Felt like the signal-to-noise ratio was low - the number of useful ideas & techniques was small compared to the amount of redundant pontification on each one.
I also read "Conceptual Blockbusting", and that book has been more helpful for me - covers a wide range of possible techiques and approaches, and creative blocks to watch out for, where this one seems to focus on just a tiny subset of that book's breadth, despite a similar number of pages.
A lot of people found the book entertaining and helpful obviously - maybe the style just didn't resonate with me personally, or covered stuff I already feel like I have a handle on.