Choosing a reading program to develop thinking and creativity skills today is not easy. This topic is trendy today, and there are plenty of books published. However, the authors are creative people themselves and know how to present the same techniques in different variations, in different books under different titles.
Sometimes by page ten you get the feeling that you’ve read it all before. Therefore, I have developed a way: how to squeeze the maximum out of such books without extra cost. I use any book that talks about techniques for finding ideas as a reference book for laboratory work. I read it and immediately try to apply it to solve my practical, current problems.
I advise you not to read too much. When the time comes, you are unlikely to need knowledge that you have not put into practice. I even have an indicator – the number of ideas I found while reading the book. I write this number on the last pages, next to the output.
Edward de Bono
Edward De Bono’s books top my personal “creative” reading list, primarily because there are so many of them published. I’ve read probably a dozen. The good thing about these books is that they are written in easy language. The minus is that about half of the content is repetitive.
Book #1. Teach yourself to think. Five easy steps to direct, productive thinking
One could mention this book at least because of the presence in it of the most popular Six Thinking Hats technique.
However, there is also the CORT thinking program. Its essence is to make our thinking more flexible. CORT is divided into six sections, each related to a particular aspect of thinking:
- information and feelings;
Book #2. Think! Before it’s too late
Of De Bono’s many books, this one stood out for its practicality. From it I picked up a lot of practical skills and hints.
I have a “list of priority creative tasks” written down in one of my notes in Evernote. It’s a common list of tasks that I or one of my companies have in front of me: I look for fresh ideas and solutions for them.
The very existence of such a list regularly brings me back to questions worth thinking about and on which I would like to move forward.
An important indicator of the book’s value to me is that in “Think! Before It’s Too Late” is the one I made the most pencil notes on. To finally convince you to read this book, here are the words of the author:
The difference between judgment and design is: judgment is looking at what is, with reference to the past; design is an ordering of what might be, with reference to the future. Judgment claims to be “the truth.” Design attempts to deal with “value.”
Book #3. Lateral thinking
The entire book is built on the use of the random word method. Ideas are often found at the intersection of the most seemingly unrelated phenomena, objects and events. The ability to find commonalities, to build a chain of connections and associations, is an essential skill for the creative person.
The practical usefulness of these books for me
I prefer to turn to creative techniques when there is a specific task at hand. At the time of writing this review, I used exercise #15 from “Lateral thinking” – It’s called “Solve the Problem.”
De Bono points out:
“In this exercise it is necessary to rely on the very object or phenomenon denoted by the word, not on the ideas it generates.”
Based on this rule, I did the following:
- Formulated a problem/objective. How to make book reviews more useful to readers?
- Picked a random word. Used the dice and the random number table at the end of the book. The word “fight” came up.
- Think to solve. Then I had to think about how the object or phenomenon indicated by the word or several random words would help solve the problem.
Here’s what I got.
First idea. A fight between two opponents. One defeats the other. You can make the review as a fight (fight) between the authors. There is less and less time to read, let the authors “fight” for the right to be read.
Without thinking long, I set out to implement the idea I found already in this review. After reviewing the stack of books on the various creative techniques chosen for the review, I decided that Edward de Bono’s opponent might be Michael Michalko and his three books.
This author does not have such high-profile titles as his rival, who “invented,” among other things, lateral thinking. However, Michalko’s books are handy compilations of techniques and methods, which it is advisable to apply immediately after reading them to your practical examples.
Book #4. Cracking Creativity
This book helps you find solutions by looking at familiar things from a new angle. Sequences of action are laid out in the form of strategies.
- The skill of seeing;
- How to make a thought visible;
- Fluent thinking;
- Creating new combinations;
- Juxtaposing the incomparable;
- Considering from the other side;
- Considering in other realms;
- Finding what you’re not looking for;
- Awakening the collaborative spirit.
I would recommend it to those who lead the search for solutions in groups.
Book #5. Creative Thinkering
This book was the first Michalko book in my library. I literally devoured it and immediately began to read it again, testing each technique on my own questions and problems.
For example, the “dissected cherry” technique is based on the belief that the solution to a problem lies in the content of the problem. If you break down the essence of the problem in detail, you can find a solution faster.
Book #6. Thinkertoys
In this book, idea generation techniques are collected under the guise of mind games. What’s handy: all the techniques are broken down into line games, intuitive games, and techniques that help you look for ideas collectively.
Many creative methods seem frivolous and too simple. That is until you try to put that simplicity into practice. The best understanding and familiarity comes in the process.
It was with Michalko that I found and immediately began to apply such a concept as “idea quota.” Almost ten years ago, I made it a rule to write down a certain number of ideas each day on an issue that I make the issue of the day. If I forget to “assign” a question to myself in the morning, in the evening, analyzing what I have done, I try to identify new opportunities to implement my projects.
How have these books been useful to me?
Let’s take the same problem: How can we make the book reviews in our magazine more original and useful for readers?
- Break the problem down into parts. I have highlighted two key words: “writing” and “review”;
- We distinguish in each concept two features related to them. To each of these, we add two more related notions. Then to each two more. Usually the process of “dissecting” takes me about 15 minutes, until I feel that I have exhausted all the options;
- Carefully consider each sign. What idea does it give you?;
- Then we combine the signs, theses and creating new combinations.
I had enough to do three branching steps. Of the ideas I wrote down, I chose a couple, and we will try to implement them in the very near future. In particular, the idea was born to create “consumer baskets” – sets of books, movies and music that we think are worth listening to, reading, watching when you are in a certain state of mind.
What are the best books to read first?
If I am not afraid to be subjective, I would give preference to Michalko’s books. For me they are more practical. Аfter reading Thinkertoys, I labeled about 14 techniques which I don’t know before and used them consistently until I developed a habit.
However, this does not mean that de Bono “lose”. On the contrary, try reading alternately several books by my reviewers today. Repeating what you have learned will consolidate your knowledge. The key, however, is to put it into practice.
It is better to learn to use at least one technique to your advantage than to know dozens of them, but not to use them.
Read good books, try new things, and share the results with us!