Book Reviews, Innovation, Thinking

Think Better

The last book from my ‘vacation reading list” is Think Better: An Innovator’s Guide to Productive Thinking by Tim Hurson. Some of you may remember a brief mention of this book in a post titled “Critical Thinking vs Creative Thinking“.

This is a very interesting book full of great information….kudos go to the author for writing in a style that is engaging and easy to read.

The premise of the book is to stop trying to think ‘creatively’ or ‘critically’….start thinking productively. The author introduces the “Productive Thinking Model” that helps to combine and balance both creative thinking and critical thinking.

This model is made up of six steps, which are outlined below.

Step 1: What’s going on?

In this step, you are encouraged to answer five questions to get a feel for what issue you are trying to resolve.  These questions are:

  • What’s the Itch? This question helps you determine what needs to be fixed or improved.
  • What’s the Impact? This question makes you think about how the issue is affecting you.
  • What’s the Information?This question forces you to examine the information that you have about the issue to determine if you have enough information to address the issue.
  • Who’s Involved? This question takes a look at the stakeholders and what might be at stake for each one.
  • What’s the Vision?This question helps you make the switch from ‘what is’ to ‘what might be’ by asking things like “What would the future look like if the issue is resolved?”

Step 2: What’s Success?

Using the Vision developed in Step 1, begin to think about the future if the issue is resolved.  Begin to imagine what life would be like with the problem solved.  Once you’ve got a good feel for how life might change, you would then create a list specific, measurable outcomes.

Step 3: What’s The Question?

In step 3, you begin to develop the questions that must be answered in order to reach the vision of success that you developed in Steps 1 & 2. During this step, you rephrase each issue/problem as a question to help your subconscious understand there is something ‘to work on’.  An example conversion given as the Problem Statement “We don’t have enough budget” can be converted to the Problem Question “How might we increase our budget?”. During this step, you would try to generate as many problem questions as possible….you want a long long list.  Once you’ve exhaustively listed your questions, you can then begin to narrow them down to the two key questions that would have the most impact on the issue.

Step 4: Generate Answers

This is where you generate the ideas to answer the questions created in step 3.  You again create a very long list of answers and then sift through them looking for the most ideal and promising answers.

Step 5: Forge the Solution

This step is where you take your most promising answers from step 4 and develop them into a robust solution.

Step 6: Align Resources

This final step requires you to identify the necessary steps and resources for implementing your solution. In addition, you ensure that all implementation steps are assigned to a designated resource who will be held accountable for their implementation.

With these six steps, the author has provided a framework for thinking more productively.    The key throughout all six steps is to keep an open mind at all times.  Do not criticize ideas.  Do not discard ideas.  By keeping an open mind, you’ll be amazed at how many ideas you are able to generate.

If you are the least bit interested in the topic of creative/critical thinking, go buy this book.

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About Eric D. Brown, D.Sc.

Eric D. Brown, D.Sc. is a data scientist, technology consultant and entrepreneur with an interest in using data and technology to solve problems. When not building cool things, Eric can be found outside with his camera(s) taking photographs of landscapes, nature and wildlife.
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