Books and Me: A Technique for Producing Ideas

Book Title:  A Technique for producing ideas

Author:        James Webb Young

It is too much of an exaggeration to call this classic a book. It would be closer to truth to call it a booklet.  But that’s what makes this book (!!) extremely special. The subject of creativity and ideation remains of perpetual interest. Every generation has been / is and will be speaking about how to master this so called art.  The basis for good ideation involves observation, assimilation, synthesis and application.  While some aspects of this remain the indescribable art portion, many parts of this can be carefully cultivated as habits.

While there are many books on the approaches to ideation, this little booklet remains a personal favourite.  I first came across this book at my favourite book store Maruzen at Tokyo, Japan.  On one of my trips I landed up picking this little booklet, while searching to hone my knowledge in the area of ideation.

Though the book speaks a lot about advertising as its primary reference, the underlying technique suggested, is fairly adaptable to any area of application. Irrespective of whether you are looking at generating ideas in an individual art form like writing, research or in a more collective environment like organizational product creation, the simple technique provided in the book will be of immense help. The book provides a five step process with which the mind can be trained to follow; so that the intensity of idea generation can be enhanced tremendously.

The author so beautifully states “In learning any art, the important things to learn are, first, principles, and second, method.”  The book provides suggestions on how to imbibe the principles and the method. While the method itself, seems extremely straightforward – the basic principles and the practice of the suggested steps in the process, makes a large difference in the outcome.  The other enviable fact about this process to idea generation is that it is easily possible to disseminate this knowledge to large groups of people and the simplicity of the technique makes it extremely easy for anyone at any level and stage in professional development, to practice it with minimal guidance. Personally a thing that I love about the book is the author’s suggestions for further reading and certain specific references to principles suggested.

As a writer a very strong takeaway for me from this small sized 49 page power packed book is brevity – for what you can say in five don’t use fifty!  This little classic that is published in 1965 remains extremely relevant even today and seems to be capable of living many more decades.

The book can be read in probably the time that it takes to have a hot cup of cafe latte, but if you truly want to derive the benefit of the book you may just decide to have coffee a 100 times!


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