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Monday, April 06, 2009

Creative Problem Solving: "Jack's Notebook" Review

Teaching creative problem solving is so often done with diagrams, acronyms and theories. Many good systems exist, but key would be remembering to use their points at moments when new ideas are needed. Did this hunch to write a story that also teaches work as advertised? Turns out that linking the steps of using a process to drive the plot of a story makes new points memorable. I've started three businesses from scratch from pretty much nothing. This story had a great deal in common with my own personal experience of start up - containing both the serendipity of how priorities are established & reinforced, along with why investors want to endorse your particular idea so you might get a better idea of who to approach among those people you already know to make your business idea available for their financial backing.

This story is a fun one to read because it portrays a young man who learns how to gradually become an entrepreneur instead of the wage slave he has been trained to be. From having a couple of dead end jobs, Jack seizes a way to make his many dreams come true from a seemingly random meeting with an interesting person who offers to help him with advice and new thinking strategies. Exactly what "help" means becomes more and more fascinating and involving as Jack's story unfolds.

Applying one of the creative thinking techniques from this book spurred me to re-read it from the point of view of the mentor. Culturally, we don't have many examples of people who use their authority compassionately and thoughtfully; this mentor character portrays an example worth emulating. Many would use the term of "Angel" for a key person who is in the position to open doors for us. Reversing that, it struck me how unusual it seems to be to find even one learner who would actually take advantage of what a mentor has to offer wholeheartedly. What makes the mentor character believable is his ability to choose how he is going to react to circumstances. This mentor has rather humbly learned to trust the value of observing, thinking strategically & creatively under pressure, when survival instincts usually cut off options. But this old guy knows how to open the conduit to ideas by suspending fear & judgments - and he teaches how.

This book struck me how, no matter what my age is, what if I had the opportunity of a lifetime dream staring at me in the face now - could I recognize it on the front end? What resistance in myself would I need to answer? What are the opportunities to make my dreams come true now that are going over my head? Does there exist now among people I know an effective mentor for me? Are there other people who could offer me the sort of support and information that I need, the sort of support and good ideas that this young man in this story got at the right time and way? It even had me thinking of how would I recognize a student who wants to learn what I have to teach.

That this new form of using fiction to illustrate a learning process would spur me to ask these questions for myself made Jack's Notebook meaningful for me. Perhaps this story and its teaching information will work that way for you too. Jack's Notebook is highly recommended.
Here's a link to get the book on Amazon:

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