In THINKERTOYS, Michael Michalko provides the ultimate hand-book of creative thinking techniques.

It’s not a book you read, it’s a book you do.

I’m always looking for ways to get an edge on life. Improving my thinking and innovation seems to be among the best ways. Whenever I’m stuck, I change my approach.

To change my approach, I need to think of new ways to look at the problem. THINKERTOYS is the latest way I’m filling my head with specific techniques for producing results.

What To Use the Ideation Techniques For

The author suggests you can use the techniques for the following:

  • Generate ideas at will.
  • Find new ways to make money.
  • Create new business opportunities .
  • Manipulate and modify ideas until you come up with the most innovative and powerful ideas possible.
  • Create new products, services, and processes.
  • Improve old products, services, and processes.
  • Develop solutions to complex business problems.
  • Revitalize Markets.
  • See Problems as Opportunities.
  • Become More Productive.
  • Be the "idea person" in your organization.
  • Know where to look for the "breakthrough idea."
  • Become indispensable to your organization

Blueprints, Stories and Examples

What I like about the book is that there’s a blueprint for each technique. Each technique explained includes a set of steps you can quickly turn into action. I also like the fact that the author uses short stories to illustrate the ideas, as well as concrete examples to make the techniques hit home.

Using Techniques to “Catch” and Hatch Ideas

Rather than a catalog of possible techniques, the author uses a fishing metaphor. He starts with the ideas (fish) and worked backwards to each creator (the fisherman). Then he shows the techniques that "caught" the idea.

Linear and Intuitive Techniques for Ideas

The book organizes techniques for ideas into two main buckets:

  • Linear – manipulate information in ways to generate new ideas.
  • Intuitive – find ideas by using your intuition and imagination.

Initiation to Ideation

Before you start with the parts of the book, there’s an initiation section. Initiation sets the stage for the rest of the book:

  • How to overcome fears, doubt and uncertainties about creativity.
  • How to start acting like an “idea person”, by giving you exercises to help you start believing and acting as if you are creative.
  • How to define problems so the final statement has the feel of a well-hit golf ball.
  • How to become an active thinking and organize information into new patterns to give rise to new ideas.

Image by lwtclearningcommons.