Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques
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Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  1,042 ratings  ·  60 reviews
Rethink the Way You Think

In hindsight, every great idea seems obvious. But how can you be the person who comes up with those ideas?
In this revised and expanded edition of his groundbreaking Thinkertoys, creativity expert Michael Michalko reveals life-changing tools that will help you think like a genius. From the linear to the intuitive, this comprehensive handbook detail...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published June 8th 2006 by Ten Speed Press (first published November 4th 1991)
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Gary Dale Cearley
Do you need any new ideas for practical designs? How about when something is wrong with your business and you cannot put your finger on it? Did you ever need to brainstorm but not have anyone else around? Have you ever been stuck with writer’s block and for the life of you could not get back to work? In other words, have you ever been stuck with any mental problem that you felt that you cannot solve? If this is the case I think you should have a look at Michael Michalko’s latest book, Thinkertoy...more
Lana Krumwiede
This book intrigued me, as I'm always interested in ways to amp up creativity. I was happy to find that, in my own peculiar ways, I already practice many (though not all) of the methods mentioned in this book. I can't recall anyone teaching me these methods, they are just little habits that I picked up here and there in the course of learning how to write fiction. I'm amazed to learn that some of my creative methods, which I always thought of as rather quirky, are for real. What does that mean?...more
Nathanael (Boehm) Coyne
Whilst the techniques in this book aren't all original (the Lotus, the CIA's Phoenix etc), they've all been collated and presented in a very interesting and useful way. If you haven't learned creative and visual thinking before this book will absolutely blow you away and change your approach to work and life. You will never utter the word "impossible" again. I also recommend the companion Thinkpak deck of cards based on the SCAMPER technique.
Darrell Rubel
Apr 26, 2014 Darrell Rubel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
Stuck in the same rut of thinking creatively? Working on a project with a team that can benefit from thinking out of the box? Want to up the ante on your own creativity? Then this book is for you!

Kudos to Micheal Michalko for putting together this incredibly useful and practical book on creative thinking. Exercises inside the book are easy to implement and practical for helping you to solve problems or issues in creative ways. I have used this many times in presentations, group brainstorming or...more
Derek Neighbors
This book gives more practical brainstorming ideas than you will know what to do with. Be prepared to do mental exercises to get the most out of this book.
Shelly Victoria
This book is a gem. You would think that this guide would give typical, abstract advice about how to write down ideas in your journal and talk with others about your issues to gain insight. However, this book does more than just that. The authors provide you an enormous list of ideas, real-life examples, exercises, and explanations about their applications. In the end, it's up to you which one you think is the most useful for your situation.

Basically, Thinker Toys are highly useful for whenever...more
one cannot help but become unstuck , for bot left and right brainers
Tips for stimulating new ideas. Comprehensive.
Richard Stephenson
Ever come up with an idea that just made you shiver in giddy excitement? I'm talking "hair-on-the-back-of-the-neck" type "whoa!" thrill? Give the brainstorming methods of this magnificent gem a chance and I can assure you this will be a part of your life.

I've been able to find a spattering of brainstorming methods on the internet. Heck, I even made a couple of my own. However, I was never really satisfied in that no single reference point occupied a dedicated space in my library. Nothing seemed...more
Jim Andersen
This book was an incredible read! I don't think I've ever created so many novel ideas for one problem and seen things from so many different angles then after reading this book. The exercises, the stories, the examples all these things work to help the reader create some pretty impressive ideas and insights into challenges they face. No longer does one have to be predictable, attacking a problem in a linear textbook like way, with this book one can really implement some brilliant ideas!

This boo...more
I borrowed this book so had to read through it quickly but I would strongly advise against people from doing it. Like the author says, you should read about each toy and spend time thinking through it and apply it in your life to generate ideas and spark up your creativity.

This is a wonderful book on creativity and idea generation with detailed samples and ways to apply each thinkertoy. It truly questions your perception and help you see through your flaws and makes you reframe your mental model...more
I like to read a blueprint at a time every morning. Before I began with my day at work, I feed my brain with some different perspective about something. It has help to be more creative for sure!
David Harbour
I found this book enjoyable because it expanded my thinking skills. There are many interactive exercises in the book that walk you through different ways of thinking and problem solving.
Mar 02, 2014 Darla marked it as to-read
Interesting excerpt at

Will have to read this one.
Don Gubler
It started out okay with what for me was a review of methods I had previously been exposed to and I hoped to get something new out of it. But, he just kept rehashing the same things in more and more convoluted ways and the whole thing devolved into something so tedious and boring that I am surprised that I endured to the end. And, when did Lao Tzu become the guru of business strategy? It is going to take a while to get the bad taste out of my head. Virtually worthless. Tell your boss how wonderf...more
Same info as 5-Star Mind (lack of originality in creativity ideas?), but much better presentation. Instead of text interrupted with brain-teasers that don't seem to have a point, Thinkertoys presents a single brainteaser at the start of some of the chapters, explains why most people don't "get it", and presents a step-by-step approach to incorporating creative approaches that would overcome such mental stumbling blocks.

4 stars instead of 5 for the wordiness, and because it doesn't appear to assu...more
Algirdas Raščius
This book provides a collection of techniques for improving creative thinking. Doubtlessly most provided techniques can be helpful, and I will refer back to the book when I need an inspiration for an idea.
However when reading book form cover to cover I found style of book somehow dull and provided examples simplistic. Book is clearly meant for business readers as most of the examples on generating ideas are from sales, marketing and management. I personally would prefer more engineering-oriented...more
Jeff Boss
Bible for creativity
The first book I translated. I happened to be lucky to get a part time job as a book translator for Mizan Publishing in Indonesia, while I was studying at the university. It did help improve my English. Besides, I got to read the book before anyone else in Indonesia :-)

This is a useful book about creativity: how to generate ideas, etc. I use some of the technique I remember in the moments of my life when I need to have some creative ideas. Would love to read it again.
Lamech Mariita
This book and it really does help you think in ways you may not have before.It's a jam-packed wealth of brain-twisting visual and verbal puzzles and exercises designed to stimulate new ways of solving problems and looking at situations. With numerous strategies to choose from, you are sure to find one that works for you. This book screams out to all walks of life, however, if you're in sales then you need to get your hands on a copy now!.
Derrick Trimble
While I enjoyed most of the book, I think I enjoyed it because it appealed to a couple of my entrenched preferences. I toyed with the idea of using optical illusions as training tools for a time, but opted out of the notion because of the potential of alienating participants. The heavy use of anecdotes is good for inspiration. Overall there a some good exercises to expand your horizons for seeing the world around you differently.
'ivhan Lahabu
very good book, teaching how to think better.
Choesang Tenzin
great read, lots of wonderful ideas on being creative. The idea that I can keep for my self is: harnessing your ideas, write down all the ideas that come to your mind, don't loose those ideas at all. Revise those ideas weekly or any fixed interval and filter them. Those ideas worth retaining, try to implement them. Think of it is a pyramid where good ideas bubble up with passage of time and these good ideas need to be tried and tested.
One of my absolute favorite books. It took me a while to read just because I've been busy with school, but it provided me with so much useful stuff I'm definitely going to purchase my own copy. I read through it once without actually doing the activities so now I'm gonna start using them. It's already led to a few preliminary ideas and problems I could solve. Highly recommend it
This book isn't meant to be read cover to cover. Having only read the introductory chapters and glanced through some of the puzzle/challenges, I'm excited to pick this book up again whenever I need a mental spark. I haven't enjoyed all the business/management/sales connections (I guess that's who this book is "for"), but I am very excited to play with these thinkertoys.
I edited a lot of (translated) books about creativity, learning, and education early in my career as an editor at Kaifa, but I think Thinkertoys is one of the best of them all. The book is well-structured, the idea-generating techniques it presents are highly practical, each one clearly illustrated with real examples from the real world.
I once believed either we were born creative or an idea person, or we were not. Or that creativity was not something one could develop. This book changed that view. A friend and I are reading it together and talking about tangible ways to use the information. I would recommend this for those in marketing, PR, and business.
Franco Arda
I loved the CRACKING CREATIVITY while THINKERTOYS was simply too much good for me. Soo many (great) tools i simply got lost. I need a few mental models that i can work with daily which CRACKING CREATIVITY did provide. This book provides soo many tools ... it's not for daily usability, at least not for me.
Troy Conant
This book will change your life. I absolutely cannot say enough about this book. If I were to only own one book for the rest of my life - this would be it. There is so much information in this book....I have read this book several times now and am anxious to dive into it again!
I can only say that I recall enjoying this book but obviously need to read it again. I remember that it sparked a challenge to try to see things differently but specifics elude me. I would recommend it - and will take my own advice and re-read it again.
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Michael Michalko is one of the most highly acclaimed creativity experts in the world. As an officer in the U.S. Army, Michael organized a team of NATO intelligence specialists and international academics in Frankfurt, Germany, to research, collect, and categorize all known inventive-thinking methods. His team applied the methods to various NATO military, political, and social problems and produced...more
More about Michael Michalko...
Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius Creative Thinkering: Putting Your Imagination to Work Thinkpak: A Brainstorming Card Deck Zoom Ahead Erfolgsgeheimnis Kreativität: Was Wir Von Michelangelo, Einstein &Amp; Co. Lernen Können

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