brainroads-toward-tomorrows mental patterns


pyramid to dna

A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger von Oech



Table of Contents


A Whack on the Side of the Head

Mental Sex

What Is Creative Thinking?

Mental Locks

Opening Mental Locks

Getting Whacked


The Right Answer

Learning How to Think


The Second Right Answer

Forget Your Assumptions

The Sufi Judge


That’s Not Logical

Soft and Hard Thinking

The Creative Process

That’s Not Logical

Making the Strange Familiar

The Meaning of Life


Follow the Rules

Patterns: The Rules of the Game

Challenging the Rules

Follow the Rules

The Asian Phenomenon

Slay A Sacred Cow

The Thuban Phenomenon


Be Practical

Our Imaginative Seedbed

Ask “What If?”

Imagine How Others Would Do It

Imagine You’re the Idea

The Stepping Stone

Be Practical


Play Is Frivolous

The Moment of Conception

Play With It!

Add A Constraint

Pause for a Bit



That’s Not My Area

The Solar Cell

That’s Not My Area


Be An Explorer

Be Willing to Be Led Astray

See the Obvious


Don’t Be Foolish

Going Along

Benefits of Conformity


Consult A Fool

Put On Your Fool’s Cap

Laugh At It

Reverse Your Viewpoint

The Fools and the Rules


Avoid Ambiguity

Thinking Ambiguously


Consult An Oracle

Listen to Your Dreams



To Err Is Wrong

Hits and Misses

A Different Logic

Is Failure Bad?

Is Success Good?


I’m Not Creative

Self-fulfillling Prophecies

Give Yourself A Creative License

Discover Your Own Creative Style


A Whack on the Other Side of the Head

The Student Returns to the Creativity Teacher

Take A Whack At It

Put A Lion in Your Heart

Get Support

Get Rid of Excuses

Flex Your Risk Muscle

Have Something At Stake

Be Dissatisfied

Use Your Shield

Sell, Sell, Sell

Set A Deadline

Be Persistent

Answers to Exercises


Proper Names

About the Author


“The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not turbulence; it is to act with yesterday’s logic”. — Peter Drucker

The shift from manual workers who do as they are being told — either by the task or by the boss — to knowledge workers who have to manage themselves ↓ profoundly challenges social structure

Managing Oneself is a REVOLUTION in human affairs.” … “It also requires an almost 180-degree change in the knowledge workers’ thoughts and actions from what most of us—even of the younger generation—still take for granted as the way to think and the way to act.” …

… “Managing Oneself is based on the very opposite realities: Workers are likely to outlive organizations (and therefore, employers can’t be depended on for designing your life), and the knowledge worker has mobility.” ← in a context




These pages are attention directing tools for navigating a world moving toward unimagined futures.

It’s up to you to figure out what to harvest and calendarize
working something out in time (1915, 1940, 1970 … 2040 … the outer limit of your concern)nobody is going to do it for you.

It may be a step forward to actively reject something (rather than just passively ignoring) and then figure out a coping plan for what you’ve rejected.

Your future is between your ears and our future is between our collective ears — it can’t be otherwise. A site exploration starting point



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