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A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,822 Ratings  ·  117 Reviews
This is the 25th anniversary edition of the creativity classic by Dr. Roger von Oech.

Over the years, A WHACK ON THE SIDE OF THE HEAD has been praised by business people, educators, scientists, homemakers, artists, youth leaders, and many more. The book has been stimulating creativity in millions of readers, translated into eleven languages, and used in seminars around th
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 5th 2008 by Grand Central Publishing (first published February 1st 1973)
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Aug 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book to always come back to. When I am in a slump and not feeling "it" I turn to Roger Von Oech. A mentor 16 years ago highly recommended this book. It is one of the well worn books on my shelf!
Jun 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Tatjana by: No One
I read this book in a couple of hours.
It's an older book that has been on my shelves for an age. Maybe two ages. It's the 1983 version and lacks the slick, over-designed look of today's books. It has comments by people relevant at the time. In fact, it was from a time when our industries were still relevant. Before we started truly believing that Americans are no longer innovative industrialists.
This book made it clear to me what thinking has made it so.
This book also made it clear how I've part
Steven Cole
Sep 12, 2014 rated it liked it
I read this because Mark Rosewater (of Magic the Gathering fame) recommended it in a number of his podcasts.

It's sort of a self-help book for people who want to be more creative. Or a study in the whys and wherefores of creativity. And if you're truly in a position where constantly reinventing your approach to become essentially institutionally (or even industrially) creative, this book has a lot of great approaches.

For the rest of us... It's nice to look back on when we're stumped about stuff,
Karen Burton
Oct 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Of all the "how to" books I've read, this is the one that really stuck with me. I often think of the simple principles so vividly presented in this book, and employ them at every opportunity. Stuck in a rut? Drive a different way to work, take a different set of stairs, shop the grocery store in the opposite direction of the way you normally go. Most memorable is the exercise in looking at common, every day experiences in a new way. For example, a revolving door as a merry go round. I read this ...more
Jan 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was honestly an awesome book I read after it was given to me from a work colleague. It helps you look at things differently, problem solve differently, etc. I think this would be a great tool for anyone in any field of work- from real estate, to legal work, to being a stay at home mom. It's an easy read and one that can be read quickly-
Feb 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a wonderful book for anyone - teachers, office workers, students, salesmen - anyone can get something helpful out of spending a little time with this book. It gives you methods for looking at problems from outside the box - WAY outside the box in some cases! But it can help you break out of the, "we've always done it this way..." solutions to problems!
Eric Maziade
Aug 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved that one. I bought a few extra copies and gave to a few of my most creative friends.

This book gives a few tricks to unlock creative potential, as well as guidelines on how and when to use your creativity.
Feb 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended for everyone. If God is the Creator and we're made in His image, then to be creative is to be more like God. This book is a fun and practical guide to awakening and encouraging your creative side.
Aug 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lots of tips and strategies for jump-starting your students' creativity.
Carl King
Dec 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a classic. I don't know what else to say, but definitely read this if you intend to have a creative career.
Dec 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Don Gubler
Aug 21, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: improvement
Lots of good ideas on how to be creative and improve your creative thinking.
May 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 100-best
This book was included in my book: The 100 Best Business Books of All Time.
Jun 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I re-read it every few years. It makes me feel centered and is a wellspring of great ideas.
Rhys Leclair
Jun 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: creativity
Very approachable in that you can basically open to any chapter and jump right in. Also check out the "Creative Whack Pack" cards, great for brainstorming.
It's a quick read, and probably a useful refresher. I didn't enjoy it much, mostly because I'm currently experiencing a creative block and reading this book just made me uncomfortable. I think that's good and healthy, hence the three stars, but it just felt like forcing myself to eat my vegetables at the moment. Definitely dogeared a few pages as reminders to myself though, and hopefully I can get out of my rut soon.
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
평이 좋아서 읽었는데 별로였다. 헤라클레이토스 명언집을 구해서 읽어봐야겠다는 정도.
May 28, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Rather disappointing. I am not sure why people still recommend this book. Most of the information is commonplace now. Dated.
Dec 29, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who find it interesting after reading the summary
Recommended to Viraj by: Richard Boulger
Shelves: self-help
The book has some good ideas…

Directly from the book (my comments in brackets):

The page numbers were not noted.

Pg. Quoted
Alber Szent – Gyorgy (Nobel): Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else and thinking something different.
Mental locks: -
The right answer That’s not logical Follow the rules Be practical
Play is frivolous That’s not my area Avoid ambiguity Don’t be foolish
To err is wrong I’m not creative
We need the ability to unlearn what we know
The danger of habit
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My first exposure to this book was in a series of faculty development seminars. Reading through the book and then carrying out discussions and role-playing made what can often be a boring chore something to look forward too.
Although some of the references, specifically those regarding computers, are very dated, the overall concepts are timeless. Valuable inspiration does not appear on a timetable, daydreaming and letting your mind wander are generally the best ways to capture the insights tha
Frank Calberg
Nov 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the start of the book, at location 150, I read a story about Picasso who, one day, went outside his house and found an old bicycle. He looked at it for a bit and took off first the seat and then the handle bars. Then he welded them together to create the head of a bull. This example illustrates the creative mind’s power to transform one thing into another. By changing perspective and playing with our knowledge, we can make the ordinary extraordinary. In this lies the key of discovery: Looking ...more
Sujata Sahni
Every act of creation is first an act of destruction. A whack on the side of the head can dislodge assumptions that keep us thinking more of the same. The cosmos speaks in patterns and staying on routine thought paths enables us to do many things that we need to do without having to think about them. So what do we do when we need to be creative? How do we get rid of mental locks, like, that's not logical, the right answer, follow the rules, be practical, play is frivolous, avoid ambiguity, to er ...more
Anuj Mag
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I had read the title of this book couple of years back and didnt feel motivated to read this because it said "How you can be more creative". In general, i dont have much liking for the "How to" type books as they tend to be too preachy and one tends to forget the contents as soon as the last page is over. I picked this up recently upon seeing the reviews and i must mention that this is quite well researched book full of stories and anecdotes and explores in-depth the causes of why people dont te ...more
Jenny GB
A nice, quick read that talks about what blocks us all from being creative and gives you some ideas of what to do about it. I wouldn't say anything in this book is revolutionary, but it is succinctly stated with some fun illustrations to go along with the words. It talks a lot about embracing risk, change, and ambiguity so that you can experience new things and try new ideas. It also talks about thinking of yourself as creative and trying to change your thinking so that you look at things from d ...more
Scott Sakamoto
An easy and enjoyable "Read" - I finished it in a couple of days in between meetings waiting for people.

A Whack on the Side of the Head is about creativity and how important it is for us to be creative in everything we do no matter what professional discipline we participate.

Why this book will work for you:

Sometimes, we get stuck in a train of thought (or without one) and nothing but a mental Whack on the side of the head will get us back on track.

Take Risks:

Too many times I work with those who
Jun 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My sister-in-law gave me this book along with its companion volume several years ago. (Thank you, Becky) I recently rediscovered it, and decided to actually read it this time...And it was very readable--filled with fun anecdotes, facts, and exercises. I admit I had heard some of them before, but enjoyed revisiting. My favorite story was about the idea to add flower seed to dog food so that dogs would eat the food and then go around the neighborhood planting flowers with their self generated fert ...more
Shrihari Chakrapani
I had an expectation of understanding the various avenues of how to overcome the hiccup of inside-the-box thinking, how to break the shackles of limited thinking. The book definitely addresses that in terms of explaining in detail the 12 mental locks. Examples with exercises are very good. I would need this as a reference.
Towards the end, the author explains the thumb rules by Heraclitus, a 6th century BC philospher, but its been very abrupt and short. Also some illustrations are over-exaggerat
Chung Chin
Mar 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is written in a simple-to-understand format, and lots of fun! The whacky illustration helps a lot too.
In this book, the author writes about the mental locks of creativity, and how the readers can unlock these mental locks. A lot of the suggestions may not sound "practical" at first, but if you're willing to give it a try, I believe it may really be of help. Although I have not personally gone through each and every advice given, I did practice some of them already, and therefore can a
You might think that it's impossible to teach someone to be more creative. But in a nod to the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus, whom he describes as the world's first "creativity coach," von Oech succeeds in doing just that. By focusing on 10 common creative mental roadblocks, as well as 4 distinct roles within the creative process, the author demystifies creativity and democratizes it for the reader. If only the text weren't marred by the most hideous illustrations I've ever seen published. ...more
This is an excellent self-improvement book. It teaches you how to really think outside the box and look at things from a different perspective to solve problems or create new ideas. The author inserts various random exercises for you to think about to stimulate your brain into thinking from a different perspective. I thoroughly enjoyed it and intend to incorporate some of his methods into my leadership training program this year at work.
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“Flexibility is a requirement for survival.” 10 likes
“It's difficult to get your creative juices flowing if you're always being practical, following rules, afraid to make mistakes, not looking into outside areas, or under the influence of any of the other mental locks.” 7 likes
More quotes…