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Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Techniques (2nd Edition)

Michael Michalko · 4 HN comments
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Amazon Summary
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 details ingenious creative-thinking techniques for approaching problems in unconventional ways. Through fun and thought-provoking exercises, you’ll learn how to create original ideas that will improve your personal life and your business life. Michalko’s techniques show you how to look at the same information as everyone else and see something different. With hundreds of hints, tricks, tips, tales, and puzzles, Thinkertoys will open your mind to a world of innovative solutions to everyday and not-so-everyday problems.
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Category 1:

- Simple Heuristics That Make Use Smart by Gigerenzer, et al. ( I have heard good things about this book but have not read it yet.

Category 2:

- Think Twice by Mauboussin (

- Influence by Cialdini (

Category 3:

- You already mentioned Michalko, but his other book, Thinkertoys, is also very good (

Category 5:

- Switch by the Heath brothers is excellent (

I agree to some extent with everyone here stating that an idea doesn't need to be novel to develop your skills. However, I do think executing on an idea of your own versus reverse engineering something that exists does require much more from you. With a project that is entirely your own, you have nothing to fall back on. When you start at square one, you must design and implement everything.

So with that being said, I'd encourage you to check out a book called Thinkertoys[1]. Although it's a little elementary at times, it lays out specific techniques to get your creative juices flowing. Its great for analytical types because it provides a concrete framework for a very abstract activity (idea generation).

--- [1]

This link is to the first edition. Second edition is available as well:
Michael Michalko has two excellent books on creativity:

Thinkertoys (

Cracking Creativity (

They're both among my fave books of all time, though they are relatively similar in content so getting just one is fine.

They cover a lot of different strategies for thinking creatively and outside the box, provide tons of examples, and have a lot of exercise that you can try yourself (and while it sounds cheesy, the exercises are actually fun)

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