3 Must Read Books To Spark Your Creativity

Here are three books to revitalize your creativity and make your business more innovative.
September 08, 2011

Summer is officially over and if your business is like most, you’re ready to head into the post-Labor Day season with revitalized energy. If you’re also looking for ways to revitalize your creativity and make your business more innovative as we head into fall, here are three books that will amply reward your time.

Creative Thinkering: Putting Your Imagination to Work, by Michael Michalko

What keeps us from being creative? In large part, it’s the way we’re educated, which trains us to spot patterns, focus on the past and funnel ideas into boxes, says expert Michael Michalko. How can you overcome years of training to unleash your inherent creativity? That’s what he shows us in this inspiring book.

The first part of Creative Thinkering focuses on creative thinking techniques. The key is conceptual blending, or mixing two things that don’t go together—such as iPods and toothpaste. Next, he explores the characteristics that unite creative thinkers, and shows you how to be more creative simply by doing things that creative people do. (In other words, don’t obsess about it—just do it.)

Creative Thinkering is packed with “Thought Experiments” that illustrate each concept Michalko presents and gets you in the creative mindset. It’s also full of examples from Da Vinci to Edison, to the world of business. Completing the Thought Experiments loosens you up and reading the stories will get your creative juices flowing.

Ultimately, Michalko contends, creativity isn’t about art, business or science—it’s about living life to its fullest. Michalko’s joyous approach to creativity is infectious, and this book will have you raring to go.

The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice, by Todd Henry

How can you be creative all day, every day? That’s the impossible challenge facing small business owners and their employees today. Creativity consultant Todd Henry’s book faces up to the reality of our 24/7 lives and offers a technique for maintaining our creative spirits in the midst of an onslaught of information and stimuli.

First, Henry takes a look at the many forces that conspire to crush our creativity, from the flood of information (and distractions) the Internet provides to our tendency to multitask. Then, he shares his five-step system for reviving your creativity. Dubbed FRESH (for Focus, Relationships, Energy, Stimuli and Hours), Henry’s process involves Focusing on what’s most important to your business; harnessing Relationships to create together; channeling your Energy for maximum effectiveness; managing the Stimuli you take in; and carving out enough Hours in the day to be creative.

The Accidental Creative offers a detailed system to follow. However, one downside is that the system—involving notebooks, reading lists, and weekly, monthly and quarterly planning—is so involved that it might seem overwhelming, especially to traditional “creative types” who chafe at structure.

The real value of this book, I think, is that it drives home the reality that creativity ebbs and flows in rhythms. We’re not machines, and we can’t be creative 24/7. But we can harness our natural rhythms to not only be more creative, but also lead a more balanced and fulfilling life.

Borrowing Brilliance: The Six Steps to Business Innovation by Building on the Ideas of Others, by David Kord Murray

Borrowing Brilliance offers a six-step process for becoming more innovative, focusing on building on ideas of others who have gone before you. While it’s not a simple process, Murray’s book is a valuable guide to training your brain to be more creative. Read my more in-depth review here.