One of the nice things about writing the daily screed is that sometimes I get asked to read new books and offer my thoughts about them. I received a copy of a book called “Creative Thinkering” by Michael Michalko, who has written another book – Thinkertoys – which has been listed as one of the “100 Best Business Books” of all times and which I enjoyed.
Since looking at business from a different perspective is one of the things we often discuss here, I thought you might find what he has to say of interest. Here are a few points he makes in the book for your consideration:
The book raises an interesting question, one we’ve pondered in this space:
The key question isn’t, “Why are some people creative and others not?” The questions should be, “Why isn’t everyone creative? Where and how was our potential lost and how can we retrieve it? Why doesn’t education foster more creativity instead of less?”
Conceptual blending is the act of combining, or relating, unrelated items in order to solve problems, create new ideas, and even rework old ideas. It succeeds because it is not possible to think of two subjects, no matter how remote, without making connections between the two. It is no coincidence that the most creative and innovative people throughout history have been experts at forcing new mental connections via the conceptual blending of unrelated subjects.
Thought is a process of fitting new situations into existing slots and pigeonholes in the mind. Just as you cannot put a physical thing into more than one physical pigeonhole at once, the processes of thought prevent you from putting a mental construct into more than one mental category at once. This is because the mind has a basic intolerance for ambiguity, and its first function is to reduce the complexity of its experiences. When you come up with crazy or fantastical ideas, you step outside your cone of expectations and intentions
I enjoyed the book. It reminded me a lot of one of my favorite tomes on creativity, the classic A Whack On The Side Of The Head, which is more than 25 years old but still relevant and useful. When I wrote about it over three years ago, I talked about how it focused on the fact that there’s generally not just one right answer in business. Creative Thinkering carries that principle forth and shows how we can get to the other right answers that are out there if we’ll only expand our thinking.