The Must Have Book for Creative Thinking

thinkertoys
This book is called the handbook for creative-thinking techniques.

Needless to say, when your work involves sitting in front of a computer all day long creating digital properties, you can easily get stuck in a creative rut. Breaking away from the computer and your same-old routine can produce some really powerful creative thinking.

The Backstory

Back at SXSW09 I attended the HyperIsland panel at SXSW09 where we performed a challenging team exercise.  The activity required half of the group to be blindfolded while the other half observed. The blind-folded group was given a long rope and were told to make it into a square (mind you, no one could see anything). After 30 long minutes, it was revealed that we had failed at such a seemingly simple task.  But what it taught us was to realize is that in any team situation there are leaders and followers and that it is important to listen. We even re-created this sand storm activity at AgencyNet. After this eye-opening experience, I was inspired to find books that would offer tools and ideas for creative thinking and team building.  One particularly stands out as worth reading.

About The Book

ThinkerToys (now in its second edition) by Michael Michalko has become, by far, one of my all time favorite creative guides and provides a wealth of creative thinking tools. It teaches you how to be more than just a fly on the wall and that you have the ability to be creative no matter what.

The book is set up into 4 different parts.

  • Part One: Linear Thinkertoys
  • Part Two: Intuitive Thinkertoys
  • Part three: Group Thinkertoys
  • Part Four: Endtoys

In each part there are numerous techniques, storylines and brainteasers. Most of these exercises only require a pen, a piece of paper, a problem or an idea. Additionally, many of these activities can be done alone and don’t necessarily require a group setting.

It is a no-fail cookbook for linear, lateral, and more intuitive thinking techniques. It literally provides step-by-step instructions. This book can be applied to a number of businesses and is great for both left-brain and right-brain types.

For example, the SCAMPER technique will change your life when it comes to problem solving. SCAMPER is a checklist of idea-spurring questions. All you have to do is isolate the challenge and ask:

In what ways might I?…
S = Substitute?
C = Create?
A = Adapt?
M = Modify or Magnify?
P = Put to other uses?
E = Eliminate?
R = Rearrange or Reverse?

Overall, this book is one of the best tools to help you solve problems and see things from a new perspective. If there’s one thing I learned in art school, it’s about learning to see the world.  A face is not flat and objects are made of more than just one color. This is one of the best tools that will help you understand problems from every possible angle and formulate solutions in ways you may not have otherwise seen.