Book Club – Thinkertoys

26 Oct

We had our 2nd book club meeting about Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko. We still had some people who hadn’t read the entire book, but had looked through some of the chapters and found some stuff they thought was interesting. To be fair, it is a really long book with lots of information in it. And if you stop and take time to do any of the exercises, it will take you even longer to read.

Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko

Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko

Thinkertoys is a book about changing how you think. It is designed for business, with plenty of real-world examples of the various exercises. But I know you can use many of these ideas in other ways. Perhaps in your relationships or your household, and in your art and creativity.

I loved this book. I enjoyed the various exercises and the case studies and all the optical illusions and mind games too. I found it very informative and entertaining.

I love reading. I read all the time. But I have to remember that reading about something is not the same thing as doing it. I admit I fall prey to the notion that if I read instructions for something, then I must know how to do it. 🙂

However, reading and studying and researching is NOT the same as doing. So as I read the book, I kept thinking that it made perfect sense, that I could see the logic of the steps, that I could totally see these ideas working for me and my business too. Yet, when I actually started working through some of the exercises, I found them to be a bit more difficult to do than I had expected. The logic that the author explains didn’t quite translate to the same logic for my business. Hmmmm.

What I realized, is that even when we are trying to think differently and challenge our typical mindset, we still tend to think the same way we always have. We see the same connections, the same analogies, the same conclusions. Even if we are able to reach outside of our comfort zone a little bit, it is just that – only a little bit. Our brains work in similar ways and follow similar paths and lead to similar conclusions.

When I did some of the exercises, I had fun doing them and TRYING to think outside of the box, but had limited luck really managing to do that. I came to the conclusion that it is difficult to actually think quite differently. We are so used to following our train of thought in a particular way, that we struggle to truly think differently. I came up with some new ideas, but they weren’t really overly unique and original. I think what may help, is to do the exercises with somebody else. Especially somebody that thinks differently than you do, or is in a different line of work, or has a different education than you do. Then when you work on the exercises together, you should get some new and interesting ideas.

That is my new plan – enlist some help with the exercises so I can create new and innovative ideas for my business and my art. Woo hoo!!!!


We discussed what books to read in the upcoming months. We decided to list the next 3 months books, so you have time to find the books, perhaps get them from the library or look for them used somewhere. And have plenty of time to read them. Please join us in person for the discussion group or join us here on the blog and add your own insights and discussion.

Nov – The Private Lives of the Impressionists by Sue Roe
Dec – Education of a Wandering Man by Louis L’Amour
Jan- Frida: A biography of Frida Kahlo by Hayden Herrera

Please join the Book Club! It’s fun and interesting and you never know what you might learn and what might inspire you. Our next meeting is Nov 28th at 1pm.


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2 Responses to “Book Club – Thinkertoys”

  1. lynnk50 October 28, 2014 at 1:33 am #

    I still didn’t get the book finished. I’m about 2/3 through it. My husband is reading it, too. Many interesting ideas!!! I agree it’s hard to change our usual ways of thinking or doing something. We don’t like to change. I also do the same as you – if I read it and understand it, then I must know how to do it!! lol!! Doesn’t work with math – tried to convince students all the years I taught! Have to actually do it to learn it! Otherwise, it doesn’t sink in. These techniques must be the same way – we have to actually do them to have them sink in and because a part of our thinking.

    I did try the “Dreamscape” technique to help me with a quilt challenge. I’ve also used “Dali’s technique” in the past. But I grew up learning these techniques from my father. Is that cheating? Lol! You can read more of my thoughts on my blog at:


    • Deb Prewitt October 28, 2014 at 7:41 am #

      I think a lot of the ideas are ones we already know, and no it’s not cheating to know them. I tried several of the techniques with different challenge questions for the shop and came up with a couple of reasonably new ideas, just not really way out there ideas. I’m going to keep using it though. I’m now reading another of his books called “Cracking Creativity”. I think some of the stories and ideas are the same, but there is more discussion around how we can get away from just thinking like we’ve always done.


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