Book Review: Creative Confidence-Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All

The Professional’s Book Review Series

Creative Confidence-Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All

by Tom Kelley & David Kelley - Published 2013: Crown Business/Random House, New York  - 288 pages

Reviewer: George Anderson, Past President, ESEP


This is a book with a mission to convince the reader that everyone can be creative in the workplace. I started to read this book expecting another self-help book heavy on platitudes[1] and low on actual substance. Well, I was wrong.  Surely the book provides some platitude-like language but it more than delivers on actionable information that you can use to change your view of the creative process and motivate you to participate.

The authors' credentials are up to the task given their own creative journey that began at the Stanford Research Center and led to the launching of the prestigious design and innovation firm, IDEO.

The book's content is presented in 8 chapters whose titles serve as an excellent outline of the contents:

  1. FLIP, From Design thinking to Creative Confidence

  2. DARE, From Fear to Courage

  3. Spark, From Blank Page to Insight

  4. Leap, From Planning to Action

  5. From Duty to Passion

  6. Team, Creatively Confident Groups

  7. MOVE, Creative Confidence to Go

  8. NEXT, Embrace Creative Confidence

If these headers fail to motivate, consider watching a TED talk by co-author, David Kelly.   Creativity is a crusade with them and given their book sales, they have markedly changed the way many people approach their work.

How did it affect me? After reading just a few chapters, I enrolled in our JHU speaker's 6 hour Saturday tutorial for a hands-on team exercise in creativity.

This is the real thing.  You can move from intellectual chaos to physical prototypes following a guided process of thinking, collaboration, inspiration and hands on building.

It is amazing what you can create with hot glue, Styrofoam, pipe cleaners and wooden tongue depressors.

I think most of the attendees left secretly dreaming of a trip to the internet crowd funding site to launch their idea.

So there it is. Reading this book will very likely transform you in some way. And, if you are lucky enough to attend one of our future creativity workshops taught by the experts, Tripoli and Smith, you may even find yourself meeting others who have already discovered this new path to personal achievement.

[1] a statement that expresses an idea that is not new or is banal,trite, or stale remark-. Merriam Webster Dictionary