Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sept Book Club - Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko

Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko
This month's book: Thinkertoys: a handbook of creative-thinking techniques, 2nd edition by Michael Michalko was chosen by Deb Prewitt of Blue Twig Studio for the monthly book club she hosts. She has posted comments on her blog, which you can read here.

Thinkertoys is a very interesting book, full of ideas to change one's perception of something. In the introduction, Michalko starts by showing an illustration and then stating "Look at it again." Then you can see the hidden word and the entire message. Therefore, by changing perspective, we expand our possibilities until we see something that we were unable to see before. This is what the book is about - seeing things in new and different ways to lead to new ideas and unique insights.

The book is divided into linear techniques, which allow information to be manipulated to generate new ideas, and intuitive techniques, which show how to find ideas by using intuition and imagination. I've always thought of these more as right-brain and left-brain ways of thinking.

The author says that creativity is a talent everyone is born with, even if we don't know it. And that there are definable, learn-able skills that anyone can use to develop their creativity. This book is full of thought experiments and exercises to help with this - what Michalko calls a Thinkertoy.  Each Thinkertoy is a specific technique for getting ideas to solve challenges, with each chapter giving a blueprint with precise instructions to use the technique and an explanation of why it works.

I like Hank Zeller's comment in the book:

     "When you realize that you just came up with an idea that betters anything that has been done,
      well, your hair stands on end, you feel an incredible sense of awe; it's almost as if you heard a
      whisper from God."

The book, however, is geared towards business, so I have to do some stretching to apply it to creativity for producing artwork. But it does have ideas to help my husband's business, too.

I did not get the book finished. It's not light reading! It makes me do a lot of thinking about the ideas and how to change my perception for a problem (or challenge).  Deb said in her blog that no one in the group that meets at her shop finished the book, either. So the groups is going to continue reading the book for October and everyone is going to try to complete one of the Thinkertoy techniques. I'll need to read more before I decide which one I want to try to do.

See you at the end of October with an update on what else I learned from the book and what Thinkertoy I decided to try to do.

Keep creating!


  1. I'm so glad you are reading the book with us. I know I didn't have much of a blog post about the book, because I'm going to do a more thorough post next month after we have all read the rest of the book and started working on some of the techniques.

    1. I've been learning interesting ideas that are helping me understand myself, my artwork and creativity better from the books you have chosen for the book club in the past few months. I miss the book club I use to attend - life got in the way and we haven't met now for several months. This book club is a good fit for me at this point in my life.