Author Jim Link’s bio reveals that his fascination with ideas began as a child when he would invent new products in his head, then create and record commercials for them on an old tape recorder he found in the basement. His roots firmly planted in creativity, he has spent his entire career growing his personal creative philosophy – one which contends that creativity is not-a-hard to define characteristic of born “creative types,” but, rather, simply a skill-based, process that anyone can execute. In his new book, Idea-Links: The New Creativity, Link says, “This book is about making you steadily more creative over time.”
Although the book mentions the benefits of improved creativity in regard to one’s personal life, Link is clearly focused on increasing creative skills in the context of the work place. Idea-Links is a self-help business book. It’s the kind of book a company might purchase in bulk to develop its middle management employees; typically, it’s the kind of book only the most self-directed, motivated employees would choose to read on their own. For readers who are pro-actively seeking to grow their creative skills, the book has much to offer, particularly if one’s knowledge of the subject is limited.
One of the most appealing aspects of Idea-Links is the author’s clear, concise and easy to follow writing style. The same holds true for Link’s content organization. At the outset, he challenges the commonly held belief that some people are inherently creative and come complete with the traits and behavioral style and appearance that our society attributes to being “creative.” Content is then presented in two parts. Parts one and two explore what Link believes are two core creative concepts: amassing more creative ideas in your brain and what Link calls “creative reframing – restating problems in multiple ways or asking questions to bring into view different idea-links or ideas.” Part three focuses on planning your success through the incorporation of these core concepts into your everyday thinking and behavior.
In general, I agree with Jim Link on what I believe are the important aspects of improving one’s creative thinking and creative problem-solving skills. Perhaps the most significant contribution Link makes to the body of writing on the subject of creativity is that long-term, everyday creativity is fueled by a rich and diverse knowledge and experience base. But I do take exception to his claim that his new creativity is “surprising and simple.” Idea-Links does take a somewhat different approach to the task of improving your creativity, using an efficient set of tools and techniques, but nothing here is truly new or surprising. And as for creativity being simple, many would contend it’s not. In my opinion, exceptional creativity and its execution are among the most difficult performances we can undertake.
Despite my disparate views, my opinion is that Idea-Links: The New Creativity is a useful source of actionable information for those who believe that they do not have creative abilities. But one thing the reader should not expect from the book is an explanation of just how Jim Link discovered his creativity in the basement at a very young age. That’s the enigma of creativity.
(Reviewed by Joseph Yurt for Reader Views)