Book review – Boost your creative intelligence

Boost your Creative Intelligence by Harry Alder

This article was first published in April 2006 in Student Accountant.

Trivial perhaps, but I would have expected a book on creativity to look a bit more inspiring than this one does. The standard Kogan Page cover does not make any concessions towards tempting the uncertain reader. You are only likely to pick this book up if you are serious about the subject. Even then, a quick flick through will deter the faint hearted. The 200-plus pages are of dense text interspersed with diagrams. It looks like a textbook and once you do get into it, it largely reads like one too. The author explains that his approach is a mixture of the scientific and self-help formats, ‘omitting the academic trappings and the worst of the jargon while avoiding dumbing down’. He’s certainly right about not dumbing down.

Alder claims that although creativity can’t be quantified, it can be doubled and that extraordinary things can be achieved with a ‘standard issue brain’. The promise is that if you learn to stimulate and harness your creativity, your personal and work life will be better for it. If you were of the opinion that creativity was something that just came naturally, this book will make you think again. Reading through it will certainly provide your brain with a workout. The writing is complex and often difficult to follow, it can take a couple of attempts to work out what some of the longer sentences mean. This is a shame because there are some real gems in there and the basic ideas are really quite simple – it’s all the theory and proof that’s complicated. The underlying message is that uninhibited thinking does not come naturally to most people once they are over the age of six, and exposure to an education system which discourages that sort of behaviour compounds the problem. Creativity is a relearning process requiring a modification of thinking styles and attitudes.

If you don’t normally read introductions, make an exception here – it’s the section that should motivate you to persevere. After that, a ‘dip-in’ approach is the most realistic. The 14 chapters are subdivided into more manageable sections, although some of the subtitling obscures more than it explains. Choose a heading you can understand and give it a go. If you feel daunted by all that reading, perhaps start with one of the self-assessments. You might end up hooked.

Boost your Creative Intelligence, Harry Alder, Kogan Page, ISBN 0 749 43706 5

Irene Krechowiecka is a career coach, author and freelance journalist