Saturday, May 19, 2007


THINKERTOYS, by Michael Michalko, is a 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.

Working Backwards From the Fish
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.

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.

Linear and Intuitive Techniques
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.

What To Use Them 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

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.

The book is organized into four main parts:

  • Part One: Linear Think Toys
  • Part Two: Intuitive Thinker Toys
  • Part Three: The Spirit of Koinonia -
  • Part Four: ENDTOYS – This part includes techniques for evaluating ideas, and a chapter on beliefs and perceptions.

The book has 39 chapters:

  • Chapter 1: Original Spin
  • Chapter 2: Mind Pumping
  • Chapter 3: Challenges
  • Chapter 4: Thinkertoys
  • Chapter 5: False Faces (reversal)
  • Chapter 6: Slice and Dice (attribute listing)
  • Chapter 7: Cherry Split (fractionation)
  • Chapter 8: Think Bubbles (mind mapping)
  • Chapter 9: SCAMPER (questions)
  • Chapter 10: Tug-of-War (force-field analysis)
  • Chapter 11: Idea Box (morphological analysis)
  • Chapter 12: Idea Grid (FCB Grid)
  • Chapter 13: Lotus Blossom (diagramming)
  • Chapter 14: Phoenix (questions)
  • Chapter 15: The Great Trnanspacific Airline and Storm Door Company (matrix)
  • Chapter 16: Future Fruit
  • Chapter 17: Brutethink (random stimulation)
  • Chapter 18: Hall of Fame (forced connection)
  • Chapter 19: Circle of Opportunity (forced connection)
  • Chapter 20: Ideatoons (pattern language)
  • Chapter 21: Clever Trevor (talk to a stranger)
  • Chapter 22: Chilling Out (relaxation)
  • Chapter 23: Blue Roses (intuition)
  • Chapter 24: The Three B’s (incubation)
  • Chapter 25: Rattlesnakes and Roses (analogies)
  • Chapter 26: Stone Soup (fantasy questions)
  • Chapter 27: True and False (janusian thinking)
  • Chapter 28: Dreamscape (dreams)
  • Chapter 29: Da Vinci’s Technique (drawing)
  • Chapter 30: Dali’s Technique (hypnogrogic imagery)
  • Chapter 31: Not Kansas (imagery)
  • Chapter 32: The Shadow (psychosynthesis)
  • Chapter 33: The Book of the Dead (hieroglyphics)
  • Chapter 34: Warming Up
  • Chapter 35: Brainstorming
  • Chapter 36: Orthodox Brainstorming
  • Chapter 37: Raw Creativity
  • Chapter 38: Murder Board
  • Chapter 39: You Are Not a Field of Grass