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A Technique for Producing Ideas

4.01  ·  Rating Details ·  2,349 Ratings  ·  131 Reviews
A step-by-step technique for sparking breakthrough creativity in advertising--or any field

Since its publication in 1965, A Technique for Producing Ideas has helped thousands of advertising copywriters smash through internal barriers to unleash their creativity. Professionals from poets and painters to scientists and engineers have also used the techniques in this concise,
Paperback, 64 pages
Published February 11th 2003 by McGraw-Hill Education (first published 1940)
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Feb 23, 2013 John rated it liked it
Shelves: non_fiction, 2013
The basic argument of this book is very simple: "ideas" are new combinations of old elements— facts, images, etc.— and that a creative person is one who is readily able to see relationships between such elements and so find new ways of combining them. The "technique" Young describes is also very simple, and rather common-sense: learn as much as you can, both about the specific thing you are working on and the world in general (because more facts in your head equals more possible relationships an ...more
Aug 11, 2011 Aleeda added it
I don't believe you could spend thirty more productive minutes if you lived to be 100 years old. This book was initially developed for and by advertising minds who often believe they have sole claim to practical creativity. This method is applicable to creativity and problem solving in virtually every situation. Describing five simple steps, James Webb Young has crafted an easy-to learn, simple process that you can apply to spark creativity. You will have to put in some effort, and some of that ...more
Mar 09, 2013 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short book with a big idea--that's it's possible to follow a step by step process in generating and developing ideas. Young is an advertiser, and the book is aimed primarily at advertisers, but it's useful for anyone in a creative field who wants to focus on the process of coming up with ideas.

The process is five-step: 1)gather material for ideas; 2) chew on the material to look at relationships; 3)put everything aside to let the material percolate; 4) wait for the idea to come up; 5) fit the
Chris San Filippo
Apr 20, 2014 Chris San Filippo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Possibly one of the best books I've ever read. You can finish this in one sitting, but most likely you will have to get up and start writing down all the ideas that start running through your mind. If you liked this book, you can find more good info about the notecard system here:
Jul 14, 2013 Rick rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
The advertising classic. You can read it in an hour. It is still insanely useful and valuable. A must read for all creatives.
Aug 03, 2013 Amir-massoud rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amir-massoud by: Scientists, Writers, etc
Shelves: humanities
A very short and concise book on how to produce ideas. One can even consider it as a long article.
The author talks about two main principles behind generating new ideas ( (a) an idea is a combination of old components, and (b) the capacity to bring old elements to a new one depends on the ability to see relationships) and introduces five methods to achieve that.
Those methods are not surprising. You probably heard about them and may even perform some of them regularly. What *might* be different f
Magdalene Lim
Aug 23, 2012 Magdalene Lim rated it liked it
Recommended to Magdalene by: Carrie Lee
Good to have/read.

My favourite part of the book or booklet (because it's so short) is the suggestion to get "those little 3 x 5 ruled white cards and use them to write down the items of specific information as you gather them. If you do this, one item to a card, after a while you can begin to classify them by sections of your subject."

I also liked his likening of ideas to atolls (works for icebergs too but atolls sound cuter), where you only see only the brilliant idea at the top but not the str
Laura Thomas Boren
Nov 13, 2012 Laura Thomas Boren rated it really liked it
Short and incredibly to the point. Loved it. I took a course in creativity at UCLA which was 10 weeks long and frankly, this book encapsulated the 10-week course well.

I've posted on amazon a review but basically where I think people have issues with this is in the incubation phase - we have a hard time just letting go and "allowing" good ideas to come to us. I know I struggle with this part, and I know I'm not alone.

But when I can let go, I'm amazed and it's always a situation of taking the show
Dan Martin
Jun 06, 2010 Dan Martin rated it it was amazing
I have now read this book twice (not that hard as it's about a thirty minute read). Like Paul Arden's book "It's Not How Good You Are, It's How Good You Want To Be", I found this book to be incredibly inspiring for the creative process. Also, I find it serendipitous that in this week that I've devoted to "Filling The Well" (something I do quite often in my quest for inspiration via the spark that museums, movies, books, galleries, etc. almost always provide) I stumble upon a book that is exactly ...more
Olivier Goetgeluck
Mar 19, 2014 Olivier Goetgeluck rated it liked it
"An idea is nothing more than a new combination of old elements."

Five steps to producing ideas:
1. read/watch/absorb wide variety of subjects (both general and specific to your subject)
2. think about the stuff you read about
3. stop thinking about it all for a while; let it all marinate subconsciously
4. idea! (write em all down, even if you think they're shit or too abstract)
5. do work

Don't read about advertising, read about social sciences/psychology.
Jan 20, 2015 Erin rated it liked it
Quick, simple, and short read. I suggest everyone take half an hour to an hour to read through this book, especially if you're interested in the creative minds' process. Challenging yourself to think like this could create some really unique ideas.
két con
Nov 21, 2015 két con rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mad-men
You remember how Sherlock Holmes used to stop right in the middle of it case, and drag Watson off to a concert?
That was a very irritating procedure to the practical and literal-minded Watson.
But Conan Doyle was a creator and knew the creative process.
Rasha Alduwisi
Oct 27, 2012 Rasha Alduwisi rated it really liked it
A simple 5 step plan to generate new ideas. It's nice to believe that there's a method to finding the perfect solution to any creative problem, and although it's not that simple, but this method is tried and tested and proven to be the best.
Mar 12, 2015 Mairead rated it really liked it
"Words being symbols of ideas, we can collect ideas by collecting words."
Metin Akın
Yet another "meh-like" book. I believe that author is very experienced ad-man for decades but he unfortunately, doesn't show his talent through the book; also he confess that in the first pages as well. This is like a initial book of ad-industry to make a generic way of producing ideas which may not work in current circumstances.
Rhys Powell
Jun 14, 2017 Rhys Powell rated it really liked it
This isnt ground break and most people will know that this is the wany they generally come up with ideas.

What it is good at doing is really making clear the steps that people need to/will go through when coming up with ideas.

The most important part, that is certainly emphasized, is the general knowledge and learning thats required
James Brady
Jan 13, 2017 James Brady rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How I work

This book, written in 1940 captures the same method and motive I use for solving problems. The techniques is simple. It is also beautiful. Only those who have walked the path will find it valuable.
Matthew Trevithick
Dec 01, 2016 Matthew Trevithick rated it really liked it
A great primer from the 1960s on how ideas come together. First step - doing your homework and collecting information consistently on a wide variety of topics. Loved reading that.
Janis Orlovs
Mar 12, 2017 Janis Orlovs rated it it was amazing
Simple routines, how to idea generation make as standard process not as something hard
Kevin Driskill
Mar 17, 2017 Kevin Driskill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very practical and to the point. A very quick and easy read for the great content.
Luis Fernando Franco
Que maravilla de libro, realmente maravilloso, super recomendable.

He estado leyendo un montón de libros sobre Design Thinking, proceso de innovación, serendipia, lineas de producción de ideas, y otras cosas medio relacionadas también. Cientos (si no es que miles) de páginas se pueden resumir en las 35 páginas de la "fórmula" sencillísima que aparece en este libro de 1965:

1. Investigación, tanto específica sobre el sujeto que nos interesa (entrevistas, demografía, etnografía, etc.), como general,
Dec 03, 2016 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
James Webb Young has written a book that stands the test of time, providing an idea-producing framework that is both simple and intuitive. A short read that will take only 20-minutes or so, this book is a gem to have on your bookshelf if you work in the creative industries or need to pursue innovation.

Simply put, Young proposes a 5-step framework in order to produce ideas. They are as follows, and taken from the book directly on p.40:

This, then, is the whole process or method by which ideas are
Mar 29, 2010 Jenni rated it liked it
Simple, precise, and commonsense are all words that can be used to describe James Webb Young’s book “A Technique for Producing Ideas”. A small book of fewer than 50 pages, it quickly provides the ultimate framework for the path to creative problem solving. It is the most intelligently written and precise book on the subject of Creativity available in the market today, but its principles are simple, and easy to follow.
In his book, Young discusses creativity, saying that while there are multiple
1. Gather raw materials (specific and general) for ideas. "In advertising an idea results from a new combination of specific knowledge about products and people with general knowledge about life and events." (p.25) Kaleidoscope metaphor; mind as pattern-making machine; create a source book/file of ideas.

2. Work these materials over in your mind. Bring different combinations of these facts together and see how they fit; seek a synthesis. "Facts sometimes yield up their meaning quicker when you do
Kyle Robins
Nov 04, 2016 Kyle Robins rated it it was amazing
This was a short book packed with very important information. James Young covered the 5 steps necessary for producing successful and unique ideas. This method can be applied for advertising, scientific experimentation, and really any creative process in life.

1. Gather general knowledge of all facets of life. You should be curious in any and every subject for the sake of learning and expanding your number of possibilities to create new ideas.
2. Think directly about what you are trying to connect
Dave B.
Mar 10, 2014 Dave B. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This short 28 page book is a compressed gem of principles for developing ideas. This book was written by a marketing/advertising expert with most of the material focusing on generating consumer based marketing ideas. As an engineer, I found the author’s style of writing makes the material accessible for every profession. My only complaint was the fact that the material was just a hair too short. It could have benefitted from another 20-30 pages that elaborate on step 3, 4 and 5. Here is a summar ...more
Paul Groos
A very short guide to the conscious or unconscious method of producing ideas. In short the argument runs like this:
An idea is a combination of existing elements. To produce an idea one must know the subject of the idea as well as possess a significant amount of general knowledge.
First: one gets to know the subject
Second: one consciously tries to combine elements from the research in step 1 and comes up with partial ideas.
Third: one lets it rest, relaxes and waits.
Fourth: an idea will present
Eleni Palmos
Jul 02, 2016 Eleni Palmos rated it it was amazing
An advertising classic and worth reading at least once a year for anyone in any field. I wish I had read this in second grade. My school career and life would be different. James Webb Young's book is short, simple to read, and contains wise advice on how to internally stimulate your mind to produce ideas. It's a brain workout and the more you engage in it, the better you become. Consume ideas by reading and actively engaging with the environment around you; digest them by putting it all to the s ...more
Peter O'Brien
Nov 29, 2011 Peter O'Brien rated it liked it
Shelves: reference
You see lots of books that claim to teach ways of generating ideas and while some probably do this, I don't think they could do it as succinctly as James Webb Young's A Technique for Producing Ideas. The method that Young describes is a familiar one to me, because it is the process I go through whenever I have to write a piece of writing - and it does work! That said, though, it was not a process I realised I actually performed until I read this book. Certainly then, it is a book that you should ...more
Edward Tse
Jan 03, 2015 Edward Tse added it
Shelves: education
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James Webb Young (1886-1973) was an American advertising executive who became First Chairman of The Advertising Council.

He was inducted in the American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame.

Young received many honors and awards including the Advertising Man of the Year Award in 1946.
More about James Webb Young...

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“We tend to forget that words are, themselves, ideas. They might be called ideas in a state of suspended animation. When the words are mastered the ideas tend to come alive again.” 4 likes
“Thus, words being symbols of ideas, we can collect ideas by collecting words. The fellow who said he tried reading the dictionary but couldn't get the hang of the story simply missed the point: namely, that it is a collection of short stories.” 4 likes
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