Disciplined Dreaming: A book review by Bob Morris

Posted on: April 6th, 2011 by bobmorris

Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity
Josh Linkner
Jossey-Bass (2011)

Dreaming on “the other side of complexity”

The title of this book refers to what its subtitle promises to provide: “a proven system to drive breakthrough creativity,” one that requires highly- developed mental and emotional discipline. Josh Linkner introduces a methodology, a five-step process, that he calls “Disciplined Dreaming.” He interviewed more than 200 people who have apparently whose creativity has driven their success. What he learned is shared in this book. After making the case for creativity in the first chapter and then explaining the Disciplined Dreaming system, Linkner organizes his material within a sequence of five steps: Ask (Chapters 3&4), Prepare (5&6), Discover (7), Ignite (8&9), and then Launch (Chapter 10). He adds an Epilogue, followed by two appendices. In the first, he invalidates “six common myths that inhibit creativity”; in the second, he provides “Additional Warm-Up Exercises to Jump Star Creativity.”

Back to Disciplined Dreaming. Consider the differences between (a) allowing your mind to wander aimlessly and (b) filling your mind with a wealth of information relevant to answering a question or solving a problem and then allowing it to absorb and digest the information. (I call the latter “mulling” and it can either be active and aggressive or passive and patient. In this book, Linkner explains how to

• Define a “creativity challenge” (e.g. answering an important question, solving a serious problem or taking full advantage of a major opportunity)

• Prepare (mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and environmentally) for the process by which to create or reveal a correct answer or effective solution

• Discover various “avenues” by which to reach that answer or solution

• Ignite forces (i.e. ”juices”) with various techniques to generate an abundance of creative ideas

• Launch the process by which to realize (literally, to make a reality of) each of the best ideas within a framework that Linkner provides in Chapter Ten.

Those who are curious to know the nature and extent of their readiness to embark on the Disciplined Dreaming process will be delighted to know that Linkner includes “Building Your Creativity Chops: The Self-Assessment on Pages 31-38, an exercise that includes detailed explanations of the results. I also commend him on his eloquent as well as rigorous examination of immensely complicated issues associated with terms such as creativity, innovation, co-creation, integrative thinking, and inspiration. Whenever possible, he anchors information, insights, and even recommendations in a real-world context with which most readers can identify.

Readers will also appreciate what he calls “The Eight Commandments of Ideation” (Pages 164-166) as well as the aforementioned invalidation of “six common myths that inhibit creativity” and “Additional Warm-Up Exercises to Jump Star Creativity” in the two appendices. Josh Linkner brilliantly integrates what he learned from more than 200 interviews with what he has learned his own observations and (yes) disciplined dreaming. He has prepared his reader well for a journey only the reader can take. I join with him in expressing “Bon voyage!” to those who embark on it.

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Note: I wish to acknowledge my debt to Oliver Wendell Holmes who inspired the title of my review. Long ago, he observed, “I would not give a fig for simplicity this side of complexity but I would give my life for simplicity on the other side of complexity.”


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