Creative Thinking with Thinkertoys



A Review of Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko

Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko is a must have addition to your creativity library. That’s a strong opening argument for a book that is packed with practical user-friendly exercises designed to rip the moron out of your head and leave only the unrivalled brilliance of your innate creative genius.

Divided into four parts over 38 chapters, this meaty bible of creativity, deals first with Linear Thinkertoys. Here you will find exercises that are further divided into three groups.

Group A: False Faces, Slice and Dice, Cherry Split, Think Bubbles and Scamper.In the words of the author, Michael Michalko,  “this group reorganizes known information in different ways by listing, dividing, combining, or manipulating it to give you new entry points for solving problems. Proceeding from these entry points, you can jump from one idea to another until you find the one you need.”

Group B: Tug-of-War, Idea Box, Idea Grid, Toothache Tree, Phoenix, The Great TransPacific and Storm Door Company, and Future Fruit.

Group C: Brutethink, Hall of Fame, Circle of Opportunity, Ideatoons, Clever Trevor. This group of exercises are designed to help you break out of old, established patterns of thought and burst into uncharted creative territory.

The second part, Intuitive Thinkertoys, covering chapters 22 to 33, focuses on exercises that help you “tap into your unconsciousness and find the ideas that you already have.” The exercises suggested deal with relaxation and ways to clear the mind (to become more receptive), how to use and develop the intuition, the process of incubation and idea hatching. You will also cover analogies, how to use fantasies to generate ideas, ways of invoking desired qualities and energies and how to access your genius through your dreams. You’ll also read about clever (but simple to use) creativity generating techniques used by brilliant artists such as Salvadore Dali, Da Vinci or the builders of the Pyramids.

The third part, Group Thinkertoys, covering just two exercises in Chapters 34 and 35, details the classic creativity exercise: Brainstorming and the lesser known Japanese exercise TKJ, known as Rice Storm.

Part four, Endtoys, closes up the book with WorrieWillie’s Guide to Prioritizing, MurderBoard (a way of spotting and killing off ‘bad’ ideas, and Backbone (a technique of associating disparate ideas to form new ones).

What I love about Thinkertoys is that it is so accessible. You just pick it up and open it to any chapter and you can find a pragmatic tool to enhance your creative thinking. It really is a bible of techniques, a manual of easy-to-follow instructions on generating good ideas.

“Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Business Creativity”, by Michael Michalko, is definitely worth the price of admission. And the ideas that you generate with it… well, put it this way, it makes this investment in this book the most solid, guaranteed to profit investment you are likely to make this year.


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