Book Review: Creatively Ever After

A friend of mine, Alicia Arnold, wrote a new book which will be published in August titled Creatively Ever After; A Path to Innovation. She sent me an advance copy, and there were several things about it that I felt were excellent.

Alicia makes very clever use of nursery rhymes as a non-threatening way to introduce commonly experienced business problems.  In the book, the main problem centers on Jack and Jill's desire to come up with an innovative way to get down the hill with a pail of water - without falling and tumbling down.  Many businesses encounter this type of challenge as they try to develop new solutions to achieve their goals. 

This simple analogy carries through the book in a very engaging way as Jack and Jill experience many of the common pitfalls that companies face during the innovation process.  It then introduces a structured process for creativity called the Osborn-Parnes Creative Problem Solving Process (CPS).  Personally, I'm not a fan of structured, facilitated, processes as a way to solve new problems.  However, I do understand that some people, (either very linear thinkers, or those in companies that do not reward deviation from the norm) will often need a structured process to break out of ingrained patterns of thinking.  In that sense, as long as the process focuses on exploring ways to identify the right problem before exploring solutions it can work.  CPS does that.

As Jack and Jill's journey to find a new solution continues, the problems identified and the ultimate solutions developed are ingenious.  It is a great example of how any challenge can be overcome by thinking differently.  While the book does follow the CPS process to achieve that goal, it can be clearly seen that the process alone is not what solves the problem. (This too is a common pitfall that many companies run into.) As new characters are brought in to assist, they are chosen for specific skills that are relevant to the task at hand - the task being to think differently.

They say "It ain't easy being easy", and this book, with it's engaging, entertaining story that can be read in about an hour surely couldn't have been easy to develop.  But it is this accessibility that makes it a great tool for anyone trying to get their organization unstuck. This is not one of those books that will be handed out that no one ever finds the time to read.  It's something that parents could enjoy with their kids, with each one getting tremendous value from it.

Well done Alicia!