Creativity may be one of life’s great mysteries. We get brilliant ideas while in the shower, and can’t recall them an hour later. We struggle to solve a technical problem and find the answer while chopping a salad.
In Creative Thinkering: Putting Your Imagination to Work, Michael Michalko shows readers how to resurrect natural creativity. He explains that creative thinking requires the ability to generate a host of associations and connections between two or more dissimilar subjects, creating new categories and concepts. Then Mr. Michalko goes on to offer practical examples of how to use this technique in a variety of different ways to inspire new ideas and create solutions to problems in both our professional and personal lives.
Mr. Michalko’s research indicates Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press after seeing similarities between a wine press and the idea of engraving on blocks of wood. The author quotes Gutenberg as saying, “In a flash God had revealed to me the secret that I demanded of him.” In reality, Gutenberg’s blending of patterns from two different processes achieved a result his logical thinking could not perceive.
This similar skill is part of the genius of Albert Einstein and what he termed “combinatory play” which conceptually blends unrelated items in the same mental space.
Mr. Michalko offers many exercises where the reader can try these techniques.
In Creative Thinkering, we learn how to tease creativity out of life through the power of intention, letting the subconscious do the rest. The book includes ample exercises, techniques, and puzzles, and is full of ways to engage your brain, a suitable pursuit for anyone who wants to have a little more fun with life—or to avoid senility.
Mr. Michalko suggests geniuses do not get their breakthrough ideas because they are more intelligent, or because of a genetic gift of creativity. Their ideas stem from novel combinations of two or more contexts that spark new insights. For example, an inspiring idea came to Christopher Sholes who created the first typewriter. He thought of it while watching a pianist produce one note with each piano key.
If you study raindrops and sunlight as separate events, you will never understand the rainbow. But if you study the interrelationship between light and raindrops, you will discover the essence of the rainbow, which is a process not an object.
Creative Thinkering includes interesting research on historical figures, such as Leonardo Da Vinci and current research from cognitive scientists on how to incubate thoughts to spur ideas. It’s a habit of many creative thinkers to amass collections of “interesting stuff,” the random items that might stimulate the imagination and generate an idea. We average thinkers could help the process along by learning to think beyond our expectations.
Use Mr. Michalko’s tricks to step outside your cone of expectations and intentions the next time you need to develop a fantastic idea. It’s often our desire to control that limits our free play of awareness and attention.
In Part Two, entitled The Creative Thinker, you’ll have fun with language and learn how to put creative strategies in place. Examples include very motivating challenges and graphics that prove Mr. Michalko’s theories about our perceptions and about seeing what’s really there. He also offers research and powerful advice on how negative thinking limits our ability to fully explore solutions. New patterns of behavior will result from the ability to frame things in positive language, rather than self-limiting thinking.
Creative Thinkering has the potential to changes your thinking, for better business decisions, and to reach your full potential. Mr. Michalko’s prior book, Thinkertoys, has been listed as one of the 100 Best Business Books of all time.