Saturday, September 14, 2013

Imagine: How Creativity Works

Imagine: How Creativity Works
I'm only about half-way through Imagine: How Creativity Works and so far, I find it fascinating.

Not everyone agrees with me. I see on the Amazon Review Page that the book has only gotten 3.8 out of a possible 5 stars, on the average. (127 of the 188 ratings are for 4 or 5 stars, however, the rest are at the bottom of the board.)

I think that most of Lehrer's detractors are objecting to his seeming reliance on anecdotal evidence, and not a lot of scientific citation. For me, a relative novice to the subject of how the brain works, that's all to the good. It makes for an enjoyable read, and provides more than enough practical hints for developing one's own creativity.

The first part of the book deals with creativity in isolation; the latter part will deal with creativity in groups. I suspect that I'm reading the more useful part of the book right now, at least as far as my own needs go.

I just finished this book, and I have to say I was pretty impressed by it. I enjoyed the parts about creativity in groups much more than I expected I would -- probably in part because it goes against much conventional wisdom on the subject. (I've never thought that brainstorming groups worked particularly well, and Lehrer explains why this may be so.)

The last couple of chapters did bog down a little. I think that this might be because the author was trying to come up with solutions for our society at this point; Lehrer is better at asking questions than at finding solutions. Not that there's anything wrong with that. The questions themselves were fascinating.

These are a few of the main points I took out of this book:

  • Why an epiphany often follows a period of complete mental block.
  • What types of creative thought are best served by concentrated focus, and which by relaxation.
  • Why "people on the fringe" are often the most creative.
  • Why non-critical brainstorming may not be the best technique for creative input.
  • How the conditions in Silicon Valley were perfect for innovation. (It may have had something to do with the California Civil Code, which makes it nearly impossible to write a non-compete clause into an employment contract.)

Good book. I recommend it.

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