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Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  3,984 ratings  ·  172 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 detai
Paperback, 416 pages
Published June 8th 2006 by Ten Speed Press (first published November 4th 1991)
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  3,984 ratings  ·  172 reviews

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Gary Dale
Jun 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Liza Fireman
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is great. It can help people with knowing that they have the opportunity to be creative, even when sometimes it looks like not everyone has it. And it gives a framework and ideas of how to make it happen, actually so many different ways that I'm quite sure that each person can find something in there worth trying.

The author suggests many ways for intuitive thinkers (with really cool names) from Chilling Out (relaxation), Stone Soup (fantasy questions) to Rattlesnakes and Roses (analogi
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
Nguyên ngộ ngộ
Oct 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: strategist
Great book.
If you want to create ideas like a chicken creates eggs, read one
A lot of powerful and simple tools based on science help us generate ideas to solve any problem.
Something new, something old
and one of the best ways I have learned is "fulcrum".
easy to understand and apply it
- Write down our challenges or problems
- Choosing any "fulcrum" to leverage ideas
- List things relevant to "fulcrum"
- Connect or link the challenges or problems with things we listed one by one
Thick book, take t
Nov 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The book is slightly repetitive, with a few obvious concepts and examples.

So why bother giving it a five star review?

It is incredibly comprehensive, and probably the best self-help book I've ever read. Michalko doesn't only make you realise that you have creative potential through neat little optical illusions, but he also gives you a framework for harnessing that creativity.

The best part about this book is how it helps you brainstorm by yourself. According to Michalko, creativity stems from
Don Gubler
Aug 20, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: business
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
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I definitely recommend this book. It is full of how to's for any kind of problem you might have. However, it does a very a good job to make one understand the "why" in a very subtle way by using lots of analogies and stories.

It is quite easy to read and apply. So, I definitely suggest trying to apply what you've just read even though you have nothing specific to solve. If that's the case choose any of the biggest problems the world has in common. Who knows? Maybe you'll come up with a great sol
Shelly Victoria
Jan 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Mansi Kabra
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: practical
Reading this book was like having a good playtime after long. Growing up we all played a bunch of games - board games, videogames, outdoor games, indoor games, games that required pencil and paper, and games that required nothing but memory and perhaps a sense of humor. Each game helped build tangible & intangible skills. By forcing you to play again, Thinkertoys adds to that repository the skill to think differently, something adults lose at convenience.

At first, the activities described may s
Apr 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Despite all the quarantining, I don't have a lot of time to write a review, but let's just say this book was better than I thought it would be and I plan to keep it as a reference for a long time to come. It is chock full of ideas. Granted, some of them are better than others, but many of them are very, very good. And, all things considered, we may need some new ways of solving problems in the days and weeks ahead. This book just may help you arrive at some.

If that wasn't enough to entice you to
Algirdas Raščius
Jan 26, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: skills
This reads like a very entertaining textbook on creative thinking techniques. Tt is comforting that creative thinking can indeed be "acquired" if one is not born with an aptitude for it, and the meat of the book lies in actually putting these to practice. It is designed well that one does not need to read it front to back. I had great fun skipping from one method of thinking to the next, and since I read it at a time when I had no avenues to practice it, I now know where to come back for tips wh ...more
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-read
3.5 stars rounded up to 4. I think this is a great resource to come up with creative ideas. But I felt like it started getting repetitive halfway through. Also I listened to the audiobook which, if not from the library (mine was), comes with a bonus PDF to see all his visuals (there are tons!). Except many people who listen to audiobooks do so because of visual challenges. I feel like he could have used his own problem solving skills to come up with a different alternative for print than...print ...more
Nathanael 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. ...more
Jul 19, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 21, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: business
Disappointing rehash of stuff that's been around for years. One suggestion is to consult one's "spirit guides" who will provide creative inspirations. Weak attempt by the author to spice it up with hackneyed optical illusions and worse still quotes from the art of war. I really wouldn't waste time and money with this awful book. ...more
Kursad Albayraktaroglu
Apr 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: creativity
One of my favorite books by far - so much that I keep a physical copy everywhere I work. This classic book on creativity has a bunch of proven, useful techniques to come up with new ideas and solutions easily. It should be recommended reading for every university student.
Derek Neighbors
Nov 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Rita Vo
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
4,5* to be fair. Tons of useful "toys" to play when you need ideas or problem-solving solutions. ...more
Amol Sheogaonkar
Apr 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book has brilliant exercises that will help you think creatively. The book also presents cases and stories of accomplished individuals who were creative problem solvers and present their creative techniques. Its a fun read.
Frederik Knudsen
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really a very, very good book. Definitely a must-read for those who strive to continuously challenge and improve their thinking. There are some parts in the middle of the book which are not very relevant, but the beginning 150 pages and the last 100 pages are fantastic, especially the final chapter on experiences and interpretation.
My friend Robby and I read two chapters a week for four months & it helped us unlock solutions to creative dilemmas and personal ones, but this book is absolutely packed with at least a hundred of the worst analogies and similes I’ve ever seen. The writing style is messy, but there are lots of good ideas if you can see past that.
Aug 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
Creativity is a way of thinking that can be learned. The notion of this hasn’t exactly been my best asset, and I’ve never really understood why. I’ve haven’t been supported by people that understood it in a way that helps me understand how to challenge me in ways that led to more fundamental creativity. I came to Michael Michalko‘s 'Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques' as a means to approach this idea directly.

The best thing that 'Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking
Matej yangwao
Jan 15, 2022 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Vikrama Dhiman
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent but uneven book.

Some chapters flow and are immediately actionable. Some are deep and you need to re-read. It provides you with techniques, structure and processes to think creatively. Unlike most other books where the emphasis is on the story to bring out a technique, this one dives deep into several techniques and mentions how schools, intelligence agencies, city governments, schools and businesses benefits from these Thinker Toys. The unassuming nature of the book where qu
Melsene G
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an absolute must read if you're an out of the box person, an innovator, or want to be innovator. The book has over 40 different techniques on how to go about the process of thinking creatively. Lots of great examples are included as you read through the methods. But, you must put theory into practice and see how it all works.

I'll try and give you a few tips but the book is exhaustive and I recommend you take thorough notes and do the exercises if you can. The idea is to think differentl
I decide to bought this book since my definition of "creative" change. Back then (when I was a student) I thought it's some fabulous stuff that artist-type people do, create something that no one understand, and doesn't really have anything to do for me (as a future accountant) anyway.
But after some years of work life, it change completely. Creative is something much more essential, and it attach closely to productivity. With the same resource, in order to replace that outdated working process,
Kalyan Tirunahari
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mind
Its a fun read.
Creative minds have always been questioners. We can inculcate some of that creativity by being curious.
Questions as simple as Why do fish seem to move effortlessly in water and Birds seem to work harder to fly, isn't the resistance of water is supposed to be much more than air ?

What if we had just one big hand with 10 fingers than two with 5 fingers.

Tons of Tools for sharpening Creative thinking. Need to put them to regular use. Like trying SCAMPER methods. Substitute, Combine, Ad
Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
In my head I think of this as one of my favourite books - I first read it in 1993 - but I suspect that I was more enthused about it than I actually used it.
It makes you work - if you’re prepared to do so. That’s the question, of course – it’s too easy to rush through it (and similar books like A Whack on the Side of the Head, agree with everything that’s being said, and not actually do anything about it. It tends to throw idea after idea at you for you to try, and seems to have an endless fund
Justin Blount
May 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book offers dozens of approaches to brainstorming, creative thinking, and ideation, geared toward business, art, critical thinking, and any other thought endeavor. The approaches range from the simple to the complex, the well-known to to obscure, solo or in a group. There are ideas sourced from dozens of creative thinkers including Salvador Dali, Albert Einstein, and Walt Disney.There is something for everyone and it can easily beef up your arsenal for advanced creativity, enhancing any cri ...more
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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

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The American South has produced some Hall of Fame literary superstars: William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, Harper Lee, Wendell Berry. And...
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“Creators are joyful and positive. Creators look at “what is” and “what can be” instead of “what is not.” Instead of excluding possibilities, creators include all possibilities, both real and imagined. They choose to interpret their own world and do not rely upon the interpretations of others. And most importantly, creators are creative because they believe they are creative.” 4 likes
“To increase your self-affirmation, get in the habit of remembering your successes, your good qualities and characteristics, and forgetting your failures.” 2 likes
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