'How To Have Creative Ideas' by Edward de Bono is a book written to be 'a provocation to encourage creativity and lateral thinking'. It's important to consider that phrase (from the back cover blurb) very carefully before buying this book. Because if you are looking to quickly create practical ideas that can help you in your business, work or general life... this book ISN'T what you need.
How To Have Creative Ideas is a bit of a misnomer in my opinion. This book does not teach you how to have creative ideas. It is not an instruction manual in innovative thinking. The title puts a more attractive marketing face on a book which is essentially a bunch of creative word exercises. If you want real pragmatic creative idea generation tools that you can apply today, look elsewhere.
Edward de Bono is a brilliant man. He has originated more creative thinking ideas and tools for thinking than anyone else. But his writing style is dry and not easy to read. My wife recently interviewed him and I transcribed her interview. De Bono comes across as a braniac. He has a very dry wit, which he should use more often. I think he is making a real effort to simplify his writing style and make his books more accessible to ordinary people. The introduction to How To Have Creative Ideas really impressed me. It was easy to read and thought provoking. I thought, 'Here's a De Bono book I am going to be able to read without nodding off.'
But then I got to the "62 Exercises To Develop The Mind"!
The premise is good. At the back of How To Have Creative Ideas are 6 tables of random words. Edward de Bono offers you a number of ways to randomly select words from these tables. The exercises then utilise these random words in different games. It is suggested that by practicing these random word games you will become a more creative thinker. So the idea is that you keep your creativity 'muscle' fit and lubricated by regular use. The only problem is... this is incredibly boring.
I like word games. And the word games in How To Have Creative Ideas will help you think laterally. You will build new neural pathways in your brain. You will make new connections and that will lead to greater creativity and flashes of brilliance. ...If you are the type of person who will practice these exercises beyond about 7 days. My complaint with these exercises is that they are nerdy. As such they are boring. And that will mean that most readers will get little to no value from this book. The only way to derive value is to force yourself to remember these are games. Play with them frequently and yes you will become more creative -- quicker at connecting random things together to make something entirely new. Little and often is the prescription.
I imagine the games in How To Have Creative Ideas will get incorporated into the classroom. A group dynamic may help overcome the dry factor. The solo practitioner will need discipline and commitment to break through initial resistance. That's what I am telling myself anyway. I'll report back if I grow to love it. But don't hold your breath.