Creativity

Creativity: These are some other books on creativity that you might like. It is unlikely that you will learn new “techniques” because most of these have been covered in the required reading, but you might think you have because you find a particular anecdote or mode of presentation to be powerful. Browse away.

Ackoff, Russell L. The Art of Problem Solving; John Wiley, 1978
Wharton School professor and father figure in operations research Russ Ackoff is brilliant and incisive. He has an uncanny ability to frame problems so the solutions pop out and is funny to boot. There are many parables in the text – a form of exposition to which I am partial – and these clarify some quite complicated analyses and lead to “morals” such as, “The less we understand something, the more variables we need to explain it”.
Management in Small Doses; John Wiley, 1986
Pretty much the same comments as above.
Both books are at reading level 1.

Adams, James L. Conceptual Blockbusting; Addison-Wesley, 1987
The author has a background as an engineer and Stanford professor. He defines various “blocks” to creativity such as stereotyping, judging etc. and suggests strategies to overcome them. The best parts are the exercises peppered throughout the various chapters. Be sure to try these. (Sample: Imagine the sensation of a long attack of hiccups). Reading level 1.

DeBono, Edward Lateral Thinking; Harper & Row, 1970
Vertical thinking, according to DeBono, is digging the same hole deeper. Lateral thinking is digging someplace else. Junior is bothering his aunt who is knitting a sweater. He feels constricted by the playpen and howls. Solution: put the aunt in the playpen where she can knit undisturbed while junior romps outside. Several sets of exercises are included. Reading level 1 with gusts of 2.
DeBono specifies hats of six colors, each associated with a different thinking mode. Putting on the white hat requires you to present facts and figures in a neutral, objective manner. The red hat requires you to present how you feel about “the proposal” emotionally, the black hat what your negative assessments are, and so on. The method is designed to switch thinking away from arguments into collaboration. Widely used techniques. Reading level 1.
Serious Creativity; Harper Collins, 1992
Prolific as he is it is easy to understand how DeBono can afford to live on his own private island. This book summarizes his other works and gives new anecdotes, business examples and exercises. Reading level 1.

Isakson, Scott G. and Donald J. Treffinger Creative Problem Solving: The Basic Course
Bearly Ltd., 1985
This is a workbook that comes in a three hole binder and provides detailed instructions on data finding, problem structuring, idea and solution finding etc. The checklists of questions are quite helpful though the text is somewhat boring. Reading level 1 but goes to 2 quite often.

Michalko,Michael Thinkertoys; 10 Speed Press, 2006
The original edition of this book was good and this one is better. The graphics are great and it has a friendly feel – you just want to flip through it and browse at length. Wonderful quotes from Sun Tzu at the start of each chapter. Michalko teaches you several techniques to challenge your assumptions. In “reversal” for example, you ask what happens if you change the order of things by say giving a onus to waiters before they start serving diners. Turns out that productivity actually increases. Reading level 1.

Miller, William The Creative Edge; Addison-Wesley, 1987
A consultant to major corporations, Miller does a fine job of showing how to enhance creativity in individual and group settings. His discourse on intuitive methods is good, as is his discussion of human values. Methods of achieving “win-win” solutions in the workplace are neat. Reading level 1, very occasionally 2.

Parnes, Sidney J. The Magic of Your Mind; Creative Education Foundation, 1981
Another book that talks about the creative process, what blocks it and how we can overcome the blocks. Many standard exercises are presented. The sans-serif type is none too easy to read but, to compensate, there is a profusion of cartoons most of which are very, very funny. Reading level 1.

von Oech, Roger A Whack on the Side of the Head; Warner 1983
A Kick in the Seat of the Pants; Harper & Row, 1986

Nobody would publish his first book so von Oech did it himself and created a block-buster success that is still being touted by purveyors of manuals on self publishing. It also established his reputation as a creativity consultant and he picked up many prestigious Silicon Valley clients including Apple Computers. Oversize and easy to read. Good graphics and pictures. Fun exercises. Reading level 1.

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