By: Chuck Frey
Michael Michalko is the author of my favorite creativity book of all time – Thinkertoys. So I was thrilled to hear that he was coming out with a new book, entitled Creative Tinkering: Putting Your Imagination to Work
Michael Michalko is the author of my favorite creativity book of all time – Thinkertoys. So I was thrilled to hear that he has written a new book, entitled Creative Tinkering: Putting Your Imagination to Work.
The focus of this new book is on breaking out of the prejudices and perceptions that tend to limit our thinking to well-defined paths. “We’ve been educated to process information on what has happened in the past, what past thinkers thought, what exists now. Once we think we know how to get the answer, based on what we have been taught, we stop thinking,” he explains. “This is why, when people use their imaginations to develop new ideas, those ideas are heavily structured in predictable ways by the properties of existing categories and concepts.”
What’s most insidious about this tendency is that most of us aren’t even aware that our thinking is being shackled in any way. We tend to be blissful in our ignorance, or simply stop once we’ve come up with what we think is a good idea. We’re blind to other, even better, possibilities that exist just beyond our well-rutted paths of regular thinking. With Creative Tinkering, Michalko’s goal is to arm the reader with exercises, strategies and examples to help readers to liberate their thinking and expand their imaginations in exciting new ways.
Perusing a pre-publication copy of the Creative Tinkering, I was pleasantly surprised to see the “thought experiments” sprinkled throughout each chapter. Michalko practices what he preaches: Instead of just telling us about creative thinking and problem-solving strategies, he challenges us to use them.
It’s particularly clever and disarming to call them “experiments” – based upon what everyone know about experiments, sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. It’s all part of scientific inquiry. So by giving them this moniker, he sidesteps the reader’s natural tendency to avoid anything new or strange, and coerces you to try each exercise – and to prove to yourself the value of each technique. The bottom line is that you will get much more value out of a book if you aren’t just reading it but actually doing something with what you’ve learned.
I was also impressed with the fascinating stories that are sprinkled throughout the book, used to reinforce the principles and techniques Michalko is writing about. I don’t know where he finds all of these inspiring tales, but they add a lot of flavor to Creative Tinkering and make it an eminently readable book. I can’t wait to dig into it!
Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of Creative Tinkering (suggested by Gregg Fraley in a review on Amazon.com) is that it may appeal to the people who need it most – those who don’t believe they are creative. In other words, Michalko’s newest work could potentially become a breakthrough book for the field of creativity.
Creative Tinkering will be published on September 6th. You can pre-order it from Amazon.com here.