Book Review: Think Better
There are a LOT of new books on innovative thinking, or just innovation in general, so I was a little leery of another book, but I found this one to be very insightful and useful. There's a lot to like, and a lot to use, in this book, whether you happen to hail from the consulting and services oriented side of innovation, or are just starting out and want your internal corporate team to become more productive innovative thinkers.
I'll admit to being a bit jaded, and the first few sections of the book offer more of a history lesson about innovation and innovative thinking than I felt necessary, but for those approaching the topic for the first time, the concepts of the monkey mind and gator brain are compelling, since they demonstrate that our current methods of thinking avoid risk and most often simply react to threats or patterns. The book starts to get really interesting in the fourth chapter, which deals with resisting the urge to quickly arrive at an answer. Instead, the book encourages us to "Stay with the Question". In his approach, Hurson sucks us in, peeling the onion a little at a time and getting agreement, till we are in violent agreement that we must change drastically. Then he rolls out section three of his book, which outlines a process for creative and innovative thinking, supported by a number of simple but powerful tools.
The phases describe a method to generate better ideas, use some divergent then convergent thinking to stretch them, then move on to evaluate and determine which ideas should be considered for evaluation. What I also like is that he adds a step for deciding actions and assigning resources. Too often we get excited about selecting ideas for further investigation without determining and identifying the resources and plans necessary for the critical next steps. Along this process he introduces a number of tools: the I-cube or the C-5 or the DRIVE model, all of which are relatively easy to use and bring shape and focus around thinking and decision making that traditionally has been very subjective.
I like this book because it aligns to what seems right to me - a useful process that anyone can follow to obtain better thinking and better ideas. From our experience in larger organizations, a defined set of steps or phases is necessary to help people understand what has happened, what should happen now and what should happen next. I think the next thing Tim and his team will need to do is decide how to "scale" this capability so that the thinking permeates an organization and the approach becomes a common one across organizations rather than simply in enlightened pockets. Of course, that's something near and dear to my heart.
Creative productive thinking is a great first step. However, creativity without action is interesting but ultimately a sideshow. Tim defines a method to help people think more creatively, but also outlines a set of steps and tools to move an idea through a consistent process to an ultimate conclusion. That's moving from creativity to innovation, and eventually from ideas to new products, services or business models.