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The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking

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The coauthors are mathematics professors. Burger teaches at Wiliams College; Starbird at The University of Texas at Austin. Here, they “reveal the hidden powers of deep understanding (earth), failure (fire), questions (air), the flow of ideas (water), and the quintessential element of change that brings all four elements together. By mastering and applying these practical and proven strategies, readers develop better thinking habits and learn how to create their own successes.”

Brilliant people aren't a special breed--they just use their minds differently. By using the straightforward and thought-provoking techniques in "The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking," you will regularly find imaginative solutions to difficult challenges, and you will discover new ways of looking at your world and yourself--revealing previously hidden opportunities.

The book offers real-life stories, explicit action items, and concrete methods that allow you to attain a deeper understanding of any issue, exploit the power of failure as a step toward success, develop a habit of creating probing questions, see the world of ideas as an ever-flowing stream of thought, and embrace the uplifting reality that we are all capable of change. No matter who you are, the practical mind-sets introduced in the book will empower you to realize any goal in a more creative, intelligent, and effective manner. Filled with engaging examples that unlock truths about thinking in every walk of life, "The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking" is written for all who want to reach their fullest potential--including students, parents, teachers, businesspeople, professionals, athletes, artists, leaders, and lifelong learners.

Whenever you are stuck, need a new idea, or want to learn and grow, "The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking" will inspire and guide you on your way.

168 pages, Hardcover

First published August 26, 2012

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About the author

Edward B. Burger

103 books52 followers

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5 stars
2,893 (37%)
4 stars
2,730 (35%)
3 stars
1,427 (18%)
2 stars
414 (5%)
1 star
215 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 591 reviews
Profile Image for Ken.
173 reviews2 followers
June 30, 2015
I found it insightful and important.

1. Understand basic ideas deeply

2. Learn from mistakes

3. Raise questions

4. Follow flow of ideas

5. Embrace change
Profile Image for طارق.
143 reviews137 followers
August 23, 2016
So last year I finished reading The Six Thinking Hat…

and this year I read The Five Elements of Effective Thinking…

I guess Four more years are left to crack the code of the mind

Although the book is about the mind, it’s far from being theoretical. As Goethe once said: knowing is not enough; we must apply.. The book is worthless unless you repeatedly practice each of the 5 elements.
It’s basically a guide to develop certain habits. I found it useful as it reiterates some earlier knowledge and presents new insightful concepts.
The book is written in an extremely simple language, full of examples, and repeating ideas (my favorite combination).

Profile Image for Mathias Bear.
23 reviews19 followers
August 30, 2013
To say that this book is life-changing would be premature, but it wouldn't be hyperbole. I have not read a book that challenged me so deeply on so many levels in years. I have never rightly considered how I think before. Why do I think the way I do? It is a good and effective way of thinking? Is my thinking "style" one that will aid me or hinder me as I pursue a more fulfilling life?

I have spent so much time thinking, searching, beating myself for answers to big questions Now, after reading this book, I realize that I have been thinking inefficiently and counterproductively. The way I have framed and attacked problems has been the limiting factor in many of my ill-fated decisions. This book has given me some ammunition to win future battles of the mind.

Beware of this book. It is not a light read. The reading is simple and therein lies the issue. Simple things are often the most daunting. This is not a book to be read once, or even twice. I finished it this morning, but I will begin it again this evening. This time, I will take my time going through the text with pen and paper in hand, so I can more completely remember and understand the authors words and ideas.

This is a book worth reading...several times. I don't see this volume ever leaving my library. Enjoy.
Profile Image for Amirography.
198 reviews113 followers
August 13, 2017
A rather brief, yet inspired book which explains some of the most underrated methods of metacognition in the process of creation and learning.

I would reread and work my way through each and every point and try to implement them one by one, as though they may look rather simple, but they are fundamental and can improve one's life drastically.
I do not like the way the authors conducted the book. Though It was nicely structured and had great insights without any extra fuss, this book did not offer much scientifically valid empirical evidence, even though they actually exist.

With that in mind, I would strongly recommend this book to most people.
130 reviews5 followers
June 22, 2014

1. Grounding Your Thinking
1. Understand simple things deeply
2. Clear the clutter - seek the essential
3. See what’s there
4. See what’s missing
5. Final Thoughts: Deeper thinking is better
3. Igniting Insights through Mistakes
1. Welcome accidental missteps-let errors be your guide
2. Finding the right question to the wrong answer
3. Failing by intent
4. Final Thoughts: A modified mind-set
5. Creating Questions out of Thin Air
1. How answers can lead to questions
2. Creating questions enlivens your curiosity
3. What’s the real question?
4. Final Thoughts: The art of creating questions and active listening
7. Seeing the Flow of Ideas
1. Understanding Current Ideas through the flow of ideas
2. Creating new ideas from old ones
3. Final Thoughts: “Under Construction” is the norm
9. Engaging Change

Summary: A Way to Provoke Effective Thinking


* P. 47 Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. Winston Churchill
* P. 56 A man’s errors are his portals of discovery. James Joyce
* P. 58 The way to get good ideas is to get a list of ideas and throw the bad ones away. Linus Pauling
* P. 92 There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not have been done at all - Peter Drucker
* P. 125 In a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks. Warren Buffett


* P. 66 How would you teach something if you had no restraints (budget or time)?
* P. 75 Even when you do know the answer, asking “What if…” is a great way to see more and delve deeper.
* P. 77 Overcoming bias - First acknowledge your biases and then intentionally overcome them by asking - “Do I really know…?”
* P.79 What are the central ideas here and do I truly understand them?
* P. 83 What would someone ask me in order to determine whether I really understand these ideas?
* P. 87 How can I become more engaged in the course material?
* P. 89 How can I learn to think better and understand more deeply?
* P. 91 What beneficial change could this assignment offer me?
* P. 91 What permanent benefit am I supposed to get out of this exercise?
* P. 91 What is the goal of this task - what benefit flows from this task?
* p. 107 How could the current solution be refined to solve the problem it solved even better?


* In 1937 Sylvan Goldman made an observation and then asked a question. He observed that shoppers in his grocery stores were limited to the amount they could carry or place in a basket they held. He asked the question, “How can I help my customers carry more groceries?” The shopping cart was born.
* The assembly line - In order to keep up with the increasing demand for those newfangled contraptions, horseless carriages, Ransom E. Olds created the assembly line in 1901. The new approach to putting together automobiles enabled him to more than quadruple his factory’s output, from 425 cars in 1901 to 2,500 in 1902. (ideafinder.com/history/inventions accessed June 16th 2004). Henry Ford improved on Olds invention by adding conveyor belts.


* P. 51 “This attempt is wrong because…..”
* Have the individual make a guess at a question
* Ask if they think the guess is correct
* If they don’t think the guess is correct then ask them for one thing that is wrong with your current answer
* Now fix your incomplete answer to remove as many defects as you can.
* P. 59 Just get the information down
* Open a blank document on your computer
* Quickly type any ideas that you have about the issue.
* Read what you wrote and focus on two features: What’s right and what’s wrong
* P. 61
* My View on X at the start of something
* Teach the concept or provide the experience
* My View on X after the above
* Gives folks prospective and an idea how their thinking has expanded or changed.


* The Articles of Confederation vs. the US Constitution vs. the Constitutional Amendments - Research this more. AOC were a dismal failure…Constitution monster success.
* Today it is unacceptable to tell racial or ethnic jokes. These jokes are considered demeaning and reflective of prejudice. Yet we still hand out grades in school. What do you think a failing grade makes a person feel like? What would be an alternative to provides grades as a way to demonstrate skill mastery?
Profile Image for Mario Tomic.
159 reviews319 followers
October 29, 2014
Finished reading this book recently, nothing really ground breaking but it's well put together in one single place so there is value into reading and reminding yourself of these concepts.

The 5 elements from the book are:
1. Understand Deeply, go for depth and make a rock solid base in anything you wanna achieve.
2. Make Mistakes, correct solutions rarely come from the first attempt so be persistent and assume your gonna make mistakes.
3. Raise Questions, be ready to challenge concepts and solutions with questions. Don't take anything for granted.
4. Follow the flow of ideas, essentially master the basic principles and see how one idea leads to another. To truly understand a concept, discover how it evolved from existing simpler concepts
5. BE Ready to Change, master the first four elements and change the way you think and learn. Learning is a life long journey.

Hope you enjoyed the quick summary, definitely give this book a chance!
Profile Image for Darian Onaciu.
52 reviews13 followers
November 21, 2017
This is one of those rare books I wish I've read many years ago.

Why should you read this book?
It condenses a toolkit of five principles which you can use to learn anything. Yes, that does sound incredible but the author's arguments are scientifically sound thus very convincing. I shall put their methods to test as I am currently scratching the surface of a challenging domain: programming.
It's also a very short book so it eases its reread and applicability.

The authors are two mathematicians but don't let this discourage you - their teaching and writing style is excellent. They recommend the book to be read three times and this is my first read - it's actually a listen since I'm into audio-books.
I will reread it and edit my review accordingly.
Profile Image for Hussain AlMarkhi.
20 reviews5 followers
March 6, 2016
إستمعت الى هذا الكتاب في ما يقارب الـ3 ساعات وقد اعجبني كثيرا .. يربط العناصر 5 التي هي في العنوان ببعض مكونات الكرة الارضية

1. الارض: يشير الكاتب الى التعمق وفهم الافكار بشكل عميق
2. النار: قم بعمل اخطاء لا تجعل اهدافك تتحقق من اول محاولة ضع في الحسبان انه لديك 10 محاولات وفي المرة 10 حتما سوف تنجح و 9 محاولات كانت لتضيف لك المزيد من الخبرة و المهارات
3. السماء: عليك بالسؤال دائما ضع اسئلة لكل شيء في الدراسة في العمل مع اصدقاء ابحث عن اساله تفتح لك افاق جديدة لم تكن تفكر بها مسبقا.
4. الماء: أنظر من اين تأتي الافكار والى اين تذهب .. في كل شيء حاول ان ترى من اين أتت الفكرة المحددة وكيف تستطيع ان تطورها وتجعلها اقوى للمستقبل.
5.كن مستعد للتغير دائما كن جاهزاً لتتغير حاول ان تكون من الذين يتعلمون على المدى الطويل . اتبع الخطوات الـ 4 الاولى و اجعل نفسك في كل الاوقات مستعد للتغير للافضل

اعجبني الكتاب كثيراً لمست فيه الكثير من الامثلة التي تجعلك تنظرالى الافكار بشكل مختلف, تساعدك على ان تحسن مستوى تفكيرك وياصل لك الفكرة انك تستطيع ان تكون افضل مما انت عليه اليوم بكثير وعليك أن تبدأ التغير.
Profile Image for Shadin Pranto.
1,191 reviews266 followers
January 5, 2021
স্টারবার্ড ও বার্গারের লেখা বইটি এককথায় অনবদ্য। চিন্তা জগতকে নাড়া দেওয়ার মতো বইটিতে কীভাবে নিজের বুদ্ধিবৃত্তিকে আরও শাণিত করা যায় তা নিয়ে সংক্ষেপে চমৎকার বর্ণনা রয়েছে।

গৎবাঁধা ভাবনা থেকে বাইরে বেরিয়ে আসার চেষ্টা সকলের থাকে�� কিন্তু চাইলেই সম্ভব হয় না। কেননা আমাদের চিন্তার পদ্ধতি ব্যাপকভাবে প্রথাগত। ঠিক কোন ধরনের কৌশল অবলম্বন করলে যে-কোনো বিষয়�� আরও দক্ষ হওয়া যায়, অর্জন করা যায় কাঙ্ক্ষিত সাফল্য তা জানাতেই লেখকদ্বয় বইটি লিখেছেন।

চিন্তাপন্থার ক্ষেত্রে মোটাদাগে চারটি সূত্রের কথা উল্লেখ করা হয়েছে বইটিতে। কঠিন বিষয়কে সহজভাবে বোঝার চাইতে সহজ বিষয় গভীরভাবে উপলব্ধি করতে পারার ওপর সাফল্য অনেকাংশে নির্ভর করে।

দক্ষতা অর্জন করতে চাইলে মূল বিষয়গুলিতে দখল থাকা আবশ্যক। বেসিক পাকাপোক্ত না হলে সাময়িকভাবে সামনের দিকে এগিয়ে যাওয়া যায়। কিন্তু পথ মসৃণ হয়ে ওঠে না। আবার ফিরে আসতে হয় বেসিকে। তাই দক্ষ হয়ে উঠতে চাইলে বেসিক পরিষ্কার করুন। বেসিক জ্ঞান থাকলে অনেককিছু বোঝা বেশ সোজা হয়ে যাবে।

ভুল করাকে আমরা নেতিবাচক চোখে দেখি। কিন্তু প্রত্যেকটি ভুল আমাদের সাফল্যের আরও কাছাকাছি পৌঁছে দেয় তা উপলব্ধি করতে প্রায়শই আমরা ব্যর্থ হই। ভুল হলে তা সংশোধন করাতেই গৌরব। যতবার ভুল, ততোবার সংশোধন। ভুল করে বিফল মনোরথে বসে থাকা লজ্জাজনক। ভুল স্বীকার করে সংশোধনে নেমে পড়াই বুদ্ধিমানের কাজ।

চিন্তার স্বাভাবিক প্রবাহ লক্ষ করতে হবে। কোনো বিশেষজ্ঞ বা আপনার শিক্ষক বলেছেন বলে কিছু সত্য হয়ে যায় না। বরং সবকিছুকে প্রশ্ন করতে শিখুন। নতুন তথ্য পেলে বিশ্লেষণ করার অভ্যাস গড়ে তোলা অনেক গুরুত্বপূর্ণ। মৌলিক ���্ঞানের সাথে প্রাপ্ত তথ্য মিলিয়ে তারপর সিদ্ধান্ত গ্রহণ অনেক তাৎপর্যপূর্ণ।

নিজে যা বিশ্বাস করি, তা সবসময় সত্য না-ও হতে পারে। তাই জাজমেন্টাল না হয়ে বরং নিজের মতাদর্শিক গণ্ডির বাইরের মানুষেরা কী চিন্তা করছেন সেসব জানার চেষ্টা জরুরি। সরাসরি পক্ষ নেওয়ার আগে সকল মত যাচাই করা বুদ্ধিমানের কাজ।

বইটি কমপক্ষে তিনবার পড়ার পরামর্শ দিয়েছেন লেখকগণ। আমি তিনবার না হলেও দু'বার পড়তে চাইব। কমপক্ষে পাঁচবছর আগে বইটি পেলে আরও উপকৃত হতাম। চিন্তার প্যাটার্নকে বদলে না দিলেও প্রভাবিত করেছে বইটি। জ্ঞানের শাখায় দখলদারি পেতে বেসিক হতে হবে পাথরের মতো মজবুত। নড়বড়ে জ্ঞান নিয়ে কখনোই চিন্তার প্রখরতা অর্জিত হবে না - এই বার্তাটাই দিতে চেয়েছেন লেখকদ্বয়।

অত্যন্ত সোজা ইংরেজিতে লেখা। যে-কেউ পড়ে আরাম পাবেন। কলেবর বৃদ্ধি হলে মন্দ হতো না।
Profile Image for Nate.
361 reviews8 followers
July 15, 2023
This book was pretty good but I found that once I started thinking about thinking I couldn’t remndjsbwjsfjfk ccfnzks…dnfkfm! Dxkdnfks
Good lord it’s happening again! This is your fault book!!!!
Profile Image for Mason.
90 reviews
September 7, 2012
I would like to say "I already knew that" after reading this book, but that would not be true. Here is a distillation of some helpful tips on getting your mind right, acting on what you know, and never -ever- stop learning.
Profile Image for Mariah Nelson.
Author 9 books18 followers
February 12, 2013
This brief, highly readable book challenges readers on several fronts, and includes several good quotes:

Picasso: I begin with an idea then it becomes something else."
"A ship in port is safe, but that's not what ships are built for." Admiral Grace Murray Hopper
"In a chronically leaking boat, energy expended to changing vessels is more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks." – Warren Buffett

The five elements:

1) Earth: Strive for Rock-Solid Understanding
2) Fire: Fail and learn from missteps
3) Air: Constantly create and ask meaningful questions
4) Water: Consciously consider the flow of ideas
5) Bonus: Learning is a lifelong journey
Profile Image for Javier Lorenzana.
102 reviews30 followers
August 9, 2019
One of the best learning-how-to-learn books that I’ve read. It’s simple, direct, and insightful. Heck, I might even read it again.

How this book impacts me in the long run is what really decide my rating. For now, I’d say it’s pretty good.

Key Takeaways
- the best insights come from mastery of the simple things
- stuck? fail intentionally then revise
- when in lecture, actively create questions
- see the big picture: how ideas flow and are linked
- always in beta
Profile Image for Youghourta.
129 reviews205 followers
December 14, 2017
كتاب موجّه بشكل أساسي إلى طلبة الجامعات، رغم أن الأفكار التي فيه يُمكن تطبيقها بشكل عام على جميع مناحي الحياة.

الكتاب يشرح منهاجية يُمكن لنا من خلالها التفكير وفهم الأمور التي تبدو ظاهريًا مُعقّدة أو تحتاج إلى جهد فكري عميق بشكل جيّد.
الكتاب يركّز على النقاط الأساسية التالية:

1- افهم الأساسيات بشكل جيّد قبل أن تحاول فهم أمور أكثر تعقيدا/تركيبًا

من بين الأفكار الجميلة المعروضة حول هذه النقطة، قصّة حدثت لعازف مُحترف مع مجموعة من طلبة الموسيقى. طلب منهم عزف ما يعتبرونه أصعب مقطع من قطعة موسيقية مُعيّنة وحاول كل واحد منهم أن يعزفها بأفضل شكل ممكن. ثم ليبين لهم مدى أهمية إتقان الأساسيات طلب منهم إجراء نوع من "الإحماء الموسيقي"، وهي تلك الأصوات والنغمات التي يشرع كل عازف في عزفها كنوع من الإحماء. وبعد ذلك أعاد هذا العازف المُحترف تلك النوتات القاعدية وتبين للجميع الفرق الشاسع ما بين ما عزفه هو وما عزفه كل واحد من الطّلبة رغم أن المعزوفة في كل حالة لم تكن سوى نوتات إحمائية بسيطة. بعبارة أخرى إتقان الأساسيات بشكل جيّد هو الخط��ة الأولى الأساسية قبل الانتقال إلى الأفكار المركّبة.
فكرة أخرى جميلة وتتعلّق بوكالة ناسا، حيث أنه وبعد أن سطّر الرئيس كينيدي هدف إرسال رحلة مأهولة بالبشر إلى القمر، لم يشرع المهندسون في ناسا في التخطيط لتلك الرحلة مباشرة بل كانت أولى أهدافهم هو التّحكم في أمر قاعدي وأبسط، ويتمثل الأمر في إسقاط مجسم ما على سطح القمر (يعني أن يصل المركب إلى هدفه) وهو ما تم، وما لم يكن إرسال رحلة مأهولة إلى القمر من دونه.

2- التّعلم من الأخطاء

من بين الأفكار الجميلة حول هذه النقطة هو وجوب تغيير نظرتنا إلى الأخطاء، من أمر يجب تجنّبه مهما كان الثمن، إلى أمر ننشده لنحصّل فهمًا أفضل وتحكّما أقوى بالموضوع أو المجال الذي نحن بصدد دراسته.
فعلى سبيل المثال، بدل أن تقول "يجب أن أتجنب الخطأ" تستبدلها بـ "لكي أنجح سأحتاج إلى ارتكاب 10 أخطاء، وما هذا الخطأ إلى أولها" وحينها سيتحول الخطأ إلى خطوة لبناء الهدف المنشود.
فكرة أخرى جميلة وهو أن الأخطاء التي ترتكبها الآن (أو الإجابات الخاطئة التي تقدّمها الآن) قد تكون إجابات لأسئلة لم تطرحها من قبل. فعلى سبيل المثال أجرى بعض الباحثين في شركة 3 إم المُتخصّصة في إنتاج الغراء أبحاثا لإنتاج نوع أقوى من الغراء، لكن ما حدث هو أن النتيجة التي تحصل عليها هو غراء لا يصلح حتى لإلصاق ورقة على ورقة أخرى، حيث يمكن فصلهما بكل سهولة. بعد فترة أصبحت هذه الفكرة أحد أهم مصادر دخل الشركة بعد إطلاق مُنتج الملصقات "بوست إت". يعني الإجابة التي كانت تُعتبر خاطئة كانت إجابة صحيحة على سؤال لم يُطرح بعد.
3- اطرح الأسئلة باستمرار واطرح الأسئلة الأنسب

من بين الأفكار الجميلة حول هذه النقطة هو أنه لما تتابع درسًا أو مُحاضرة بنية طرح أسئلة في نهايتها فسترتفع نسبة تركيزك أكثر، لأنك ستتحول من مجرد مستقبل سلبي إلى مستقبل متفاعل وهو ما سيزيد من استيعابك لمُحتوى تلك المُحاضرة أو الدرس. يشير المؤلفان إلى أنهم يعيّنان دائمًا طالبًا في المُحاضرات التي يقدّمانها ليكون المسؤول عن طرح الأسئلة ويشيران إلى تحسنّ مستوى وفهم الطالب الذي يقع عليه الاختيار بفضل هذا الأمر.
نقطة أخرى جميلة أشار إليها الكتاب وهو أنه في الكثير من الحالات نطرح الأسئلة غير المُناسبة ولهذا لا نصل إلى إجابات أو نتائج جيّدة، وعرض هنا قصّتين. الأولى إن كنت تعيش في مدينة كبيرة معروفة بكثرة الزحام فيها في ساعات الذروة فمن الأكيد أنك تساءلت عن طريقة للتخلص من هذا الزحام، في حين أنه يتوجّب عليك -على الأقل حسب الكتاب- أن تطرح سؤالًا مُختلفًا وهو "كيف يُمكنني أن أستغل وقتي الذي أقضيه في الطريق بشكل أفضل" ومثل هذا السؤال يملك إجابات عديدة قد يكون الاستماع إلى بودكاست أو كتاب صوتي أحدها.
القصة الثانية (والتي تبدو مستوحاة من وحي الخيال) وهي قصة صديقين في غابة فاجأهما دب فشرعا في الجري، فسأل أحدها الثاني "هل فعلا يمكننا أن نسبق الدّب"، فأجابه صديقه "أتساءل فقط إن كان بإمكاني أن أسبقك أنت" (بحكم أن الدب سيلتهم أبطأهما). رغم أن القصة خيالية إلّا أنها تبيّن قوّة طرح الأسئلة الأنسب.

4- تتبّع سيل الأفكار

الأفكار لا تولد من عدم وإنما يبني بعضها على بعض عكس ما نعتقد، حيث أنه في المخيال الجماعي عادة ما تمثّل الأفكار على أنها مصابيح تشتعل “فجأة” في حين أنها بُنيت على نتائج أفكار أخرى سبقتها. أفضل مثال على هذه النقطة في الكتاب هو اكتشاف مبادئ التفاضل والتكامل، فنجد بأن نيوتن وليبنتز اكتشفا تلك المبادئ تقريبًا في نفس الفترة وبشكل منفصل عن بعضهما البعض. يعود الفضل في ذلك إلى أن جميع الأفكار التي يُبنى عليها التفاضل والتكامل قد تم اكتشافها من قبل، ولم يكن الأمر -إن صح قول ذلك- سوى مسألة وقت قبل أن توضع مبادئ هذا المجال.
أضف إلى ذلك بأن تلك المبادئ لما نشرت في تلك الفترة لم تشكل سوى ورقات معدودات، ولو بحث في مكتبة جامعتك أو حيّك عن كتاب حول التفاضل والتكامل لوجدت كتبًا تتراوح أعداد صفحاتها ما بين بضعة مئات وبعضة آلاف، وهو راجع إلى أن هذه الكتب تبني على الفكرة الأصلية وتضيف إليها أمثلة وشروحًا.
فكرة أخرى يُشير إليها الكتاب وهو التحذير من فخ النظر إلى الأفكار والمبادئ التي توصلنا إليها على أنها نتائج نهائية، بل يجب النظر إليها على أنها بداية أمر جديد. يضرب الكتاب مثالا بمصنع عربات حقّق قفزة نوعية في ع��د العربات التي ينتجها سنويا عبر إدخال تحسينات كثيرة على آلية التصنيع، وهو ما اعتبر حينها على أنها قفزة كبيرة نحو الأمام لا نظير لها. لكن ما لبث أن أتى هنري فورد وبنى على تلك الأفكار (التي كانت تعتبر إنجازا عظيما) وأدخل عليها تعديلات لينتج نظام التصنيع الذي اشتهرت به شركته بعد ذلك.

5- التغيير المستمر

لجعل الأفكار السابقة جزءً من حياتك ومن طريقة تفكيرك فستحتاج أن تتقبل فكرة التغيير وأن تجعلها جزءً لا يتجزأ منك. فالتغيير لا يتم دفعة واحدة ولا يتم مرة واحدة فحسب، وإنما هو عملية متواصلة مستمرة، تمامًا مثلما تتغير المدن وتكبر ويتم تجديدها باستمرار ورغم ذلك لا تتوقف الحياة فيها، فإنه يجب على الواحد فيها أن يتقبل فكرة التغيير وأن يجعلها ركيزة من الركائز التي يعتمد عليها.

الكتاب صغير الحجم وسهل الهضم، موجّه بشكل أساسي للطلبة (للتذكير فالكاتبان أستاذان جامعيان) وينصح الكاتبان بقراءته 3 مرات متتاليات (أشارًا مازحين بأنهما رغبا في تكرار محتوى الكتاب 3 مرات، لكن الناشر رفض الفكرة :) ).
Profile Image for Gabrielam13.
140 reviews23 followers
June 17, 2018
Deși partea introductorie mi s-a părut puțin exagerată, cu o puternică aromă de reclamă ieftină, adevărul este că ideile prezentate sunt foarte valoroase. Și, într-adevăr, puse în aplicare sunt convinsă că vor duce la rezultate.

Cele 5 elemente ale unei gândiri eficiente promovate de Burger și Starbird sunt:
1.Înțelege cu adevărat bazele și revin-o mereu la ele, căci de fiecare dată când progresezi într-un domeniu și revii la fundamente, le privești pe acestea dintr-o altă perspectivă și începi să înțelegi totul într-un mod mai profund.
2.Al doilea principiu îndeamnă să nu ne fie frică de nereușită sau de a greși, dimpotrivă: ar trebui să privim nereușitele ca pe pași care ne aduc mai aproape de soluția corectă. De fiecare dată când te simți blocat într-un moment, greșește de nouă ori, iar a zecea oară vei reuși, spun autorii. Aceasta pentru că capacitatea de a face greșeli fără să te simți pierdut va elibera potențialul creativ.
3.Pune mereu întrebări și fii deschis să înțelegi și opinii contrare ție. Îmbrățișând o poziție contrară și încercând să argumentezi în favoarea ei, nu numai că vei fi cu mult mai empatic, dar și vei înțelege mai bine propria poziție și părțile ei slabe.
4. Încearcă să vezi orice poziție din cadrul curentului de idei căreia îi face parte. Această atitudine de identificare a contextului din care un subiect face parte ajută să îl reții mai ușor, ba chiar mai mult, face posibilă întrevederea următorilor pași, evoluția către un următor nivel.
5. Cel din urmă principiu, chintesența tuturor celor 4, este să accepți să te schimbi. A fi deschis nu numai să gândești mai eficient, dar și să pui în aplicare ceea ce descoperi, să te schimbi mereu, te poate ajuta să obții lucrurile pe care ți le dorești.

Probabil că sumarizarea principiilor unei gândiri eficiente pe care eu am făcut-o nu este foarte reușită. De aceea recomand citirea cărții, căci stilul autorilor este mult mai convingător și mai fluent, iar ideile lor cu siguranță te vor pune pe gândit.
Profile Image for Blakely.
207 reviews5 followers
January 30, 2015
I quite liked this little book!

I stumbled upon it as I was searching for another book in the library - Thinking Fast and Slow. TFAS happened to be located in a section of the library that I think must be named non-fiction books designed to interest Blakely, as almost every book in that section I had either already read and liked, wanted to read, or sounded really interesting. The title for this book and it's small size intrigued me so I picked it up.

This book focuses on better ways to learn, create, and think critically. It's written by two math professors so many of the examples relate to school, but as the authors note they can really be applied to anything.

There were many intriguing ideas in the book, my two favorites were (spoiler alert? - can you spoil a book like this?) 1.) if you've formed an opinion on a moral belief pretend for 24 hours that you hold the opposite opinion; how does that affect your life or your thoughts 2.) If you can't find the correct answer to a problem (or an article, new product, etc.) come up with a wrong answer, then ask yourself what is wrong with the answer, fix that, and if the solution still isn't correct repeat the process until it is.

The book is tiny - about 150 pages and will only take about two hours to read.
Profile Image for Teo 2050.
840 reviews82 followers
April 5, 2020


Burger EB & Starbird M (2012) (03:09) Five Elements of Effective Thinking, The

Preface: Thinking Makes the Difference

Introduction: Elements of Effective Thinking, Learning, and Creating

1. Earth: Grounding Your Thinking: Understand Deeply
• Understand simple things deeply
• Clear the clutter—seek the essential
• See what's there
• See what's missing
• Final thoughts: Deeper is better

2. Fire: Igniting Insights through Mistakes: Fail to Succeed
• Welcome accidental missteps—let your errors by your guide
• Finding the right question to the wrong answer
• Failing by intent
• Final thoughts: A modified mind-set

3. Air: Creating Questions out of Thin Air: Be Your Own Socrates
• How answers can lead to questions
• Creating questions enlivens your curiosity
• What's the real question?
• Final thoughts: The art of creating questions and active listening

4. Water: Seeing the Flow of Ideas: Look Back, Look Forward
• Understanding current ideas through the flow of ideas
• Creating new ideas from old ones
• Final thoughts: "Under construction" is the norm

5. The Quintessential Element: Engaging Change: Transform Yourself

Summary: A Way to Provoke Effective Thinking: A Brief Review
Profile Image for Surya Kumar.
20 reviews6 followers
October 7, 2015
This book is so practical how to think by comparing with 5 earth elements.
1. Ground: Understand Deeply.
2. Fire: Make Mistakes.
3. Sky: Raise Questions.
4. Water: Follow the Flow of Ideas.
5. Change.
A must read for everyone to enhance the way of thinking.
Profile Image for Tony.
154 reviews44 followers
December 29, 2014
I've read dozens of similar books, and whilst this one doesn't add much new, it neatly encapsulates a lot of basic thinking about thinking, pushing forward the core concepts that:

* It's always possible to understand something more deeply
* It's vital to make lots of mistakes along the way
* You need to get much better at asking lots and lots of questions
* Everything builds on previous ideas
* The key to getting better is continuous constructive change

It's short, easy to read, simple without being simplistic, with lots of good examples, and nice quotes (from others), and quotable bits of its own.

My biggest complaint is that the title is somewhat misleading. It's much more an "Elements of Effective Learning" than about effective thinking. In particular, it largely ignores most of the recent material about the common thinking traps we keep falling into, popularised in books like Thinking, Fast and Slow, Predictably Irrational, Everything is Obvious, You Are Not So Smart, etc.

So for me it's probably just a ★★★☆, but it would probably a very useful book for anyone newly interested in learning how to learn better.

Profile Image for Soheil.
153 reviews19 followers
July 30, 2018
The 5 Elements of Effective thinking is not essentially a bad book. It just felt wrong that two university professors had limited most of their outlook on how a "student" can do more effective thinking rather than a graduated full-time employee.

I wrote the above because most of the examples and notions in the book are pointed towards students and I couldn't help but feel that this book was mostly written to address the authors' students or colleagues.

Anyhow the book offers 5 (or 4 main) insights into how to do more effective thinking which seem like fine strategies that I started to implement in real life. These include really grasping the basics, make many mistakes to begin with and then try to improve your work step by step, ask intriguing questions that open new perspectives, follow the flow of the ideas (how a final thought was achieved from the first idea) and commit to change and use the previous four. Each of the main four are associated with basic elements of earth, fire, air and water in the same order mentioned above so that you can remember them easier.

Since it is a short read, I recommend reading it if you haven't done more extensive reading in this area.
Profile Image for kartik narayanan.
739 reviews207 followers
May 28, 2017
Read the full review at https://wp.me/p89tYT-ag

Extraordinary people are just ordinary people who are thinking differently – and that could be you

What is the book about?
“The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking” is written by Edward B. Burger and Michael Starbird, both of whom are professors of mathematics, authors of many articles and books and recipients of multiple awards including excellence in teaching.

There are a couple of hypotheses that have gone into the motivation for ‘The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking’. The first is that basic methods of for thinking more effectively are the same in all walks of life. The second is that these methods can be taught and learned; effective thinking is not an inborn gift. This book offers thought provoking ways to provoke thought.

Read the full review at https://wp.me/p89tYT-ag
Profile Image for Dave B..
432 reviews18 followers
April 10, 2013
“The 5 elements of effective thinking” was a short 160+ pages. I was able to read the material in a day. The power of the text was in the fact that it was to the point and practical in nature. I have read several books related to critical thinking and Neuropsychology and this book provides a great summary of active thinking skills without an extra 500 pages of cognitive research history or case studies. I think linking key factors to critical thinking to classical concepts of natural elements will provide a great memorization tool. The book is easy to read and very enjoyable. I recommend this as a quick reference for anyone interested in using critical thinking in the office.
Profile Image for Naomi.
4,700 reviews140 followers
July 5, 2012
Although I found this book interesting, I did feel like it has been written multiple times before. I was taught these concepts in graduate school for my classes on leadership, so it truly was nothing new to me. However, it might be for the general public.

In reality, these books are a dime a dozen. I do think that they author, with his math background, brought in an interesting approach, but it is still the same concepts.
Profile Image for Mark.
Author 2 books11 followers
September 23, 2012
I don't know if the points in this little book will help me to think any better, but it gave me several ideas to teach better.
Profile Image for Tbone.
132 reviews4 followers
April 20, 2020
The thought behind the five elements is great but there are too many unnecessary illustrations for these basic ideas.
Profile Image for Filipa Canelas.
Author 0 books15 followers
November 22, 2020
Thinking effectively entails a certain process and sequence of steps that can be learned and applied in a diversity of fields, which contrasts with the mindless carriage of thoughts. In one (twitter friendly) sentence: Effective thinking is what allows ordinary people to think in extraordinary ways.

The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking book lays an interesting foundation of those principles and suggests different applications in one's life. The 4 Classical are used to explain the first 4 principles: Earth, Fire, Air, and Water. And ends with the Quintessential.

First Principle of Effective Thinking: Earth

The Earth is the ground or the building block for all the other elements to thrive. This means: deeply understand the basics of any subject and make them rock solid. It is crucial to continue mastering the most fundamental basics in order to learn the details. Not just learning in terms of random facts and bits of information, but mastering the connections that stick the basics together. You can't be an effective thinker, without being able to understand and explain the basic concepts with ease.

Great basketball players spend most of their training hours mastering the pass, and not inventing the wheel on new and complex moves. The lesson is simple: refine your skills and knowledge of the basics, so you can have a strong foundation.

Exercise: Pick a skill or subject and spend 5 minutes detailing the basic principles and concepts. Then, pick just one and spend 30 minutes learning it. The relevance of this exercise is to find flaws in your thinking and gaps in your knowledge. Then it's much easier to focus on the topics that still need to be reviewed. Feynman was an advocate of this process, and you can read more about it here.

I usually go through this exercise before an exam. When reviewing the material, I quickly jot down the areas in which I can still see weaknesses, and focus my available study time there. This seems quite straight-forward and intuitive, but, and from my personal experience, it's much more comfortable to stick to the concepts we already know, and avoid the most challenging ones. But it's worth to effort to embrace difficulty and master new concepts.

Read more here: www.filipacanelas.com/blog/5-elements...
Profile Image for Rich Yavorsky.
203 reviews9 followers
July 13, 2018
While "5E" is a quick read (~120p, pocket-sized hardcover), the book shows that good ideas come in small packages.

5E is a "mental fundamentals" book, and should be filed with the ranks of classic John Wooden or Augie Garrido guidance. Being in Austin, I had the pleasure of attending a lecture that co-author Prof. Starbird hosted at my company: Starbird clearly espouses the principles of this book in his 30+ year academic career, and shared his "elements" with our audience with enthusiasm and pleasure. 5E is a great bedside book to flip through 1-2 times a year. The five ancient science elements are a great mnemonic.

My biggest personal takeaway from the book: I don't ask enough questions throughout my daily movements. But as Burger and Starbird point out in perhaps the most important message of the book: the mind is a muscle, it can be trained, and you and your intent are the difference in its strength. Pocket notes below (tl;dr) for reference.


Better thinking is trainable.

#1: EARTH: Master the Fundamentals
- Understand deeply, try smaller problems
- Clear the clutter, Picasso's bull
- See what's there, fact from hype
- See what's missing, experiment with adjectives

#2: FIRE: Make Mistakes
- Welcome missteps
- Find the right question to the wrong answer
- Fail by intent
- "Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm." - Winston Churchill
- "A ship in port is safe, but that's not what ships are built for." - Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

#3 AIR: Create Questions Out of Thin Air
- Force yourself to ask questions
- Question whether you have the right questions
- Ask questions that drive to action

#4 WATER: See the Flow of Ideas
- Understand the history behind current decisions
- Project outwards to where you think decisions may be going
- If you're wrong with your projections, that's okay: examine why you were wrong and learn
- Think about what is socially accepted today will not be accepted years from now (e.g. slavery)
- Think about "perfect" technology today and what might replace it years from now (e.g. the iPod)

- Understand you can change yourself
- Understand you can always improve
- Understand your will is what makes the difference
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