Book Review - Jack's Notebook: A business novel about creative problem solving by Gregg Fraley
There's a reason why storytelling is such a powerful concept. You can embed concepts and truth in the narrative, and they offer much more impact than a dry recitation of a method or facts. Gregg Fraley does that with his book Jack's Notebook: A business novel about creative problem solving. Fraley frames his problem solving technique around the story of a young man who wants to do something exciting in his life, but finds himself locked into survival mode, just struggling to work two jobs and make ends meet. This uninspiring life comes to an abrupt halt when he's befriended by a guy who offers him a lift home in the middle of a storm...
Turn Over Every Stone
As the Stone Turns
A Fresh Perspective
A Smashing Night for Ideas
100 Ideas Inside Jeannie's Bottle
Tony, Tony, Tony
Face Down, Just Like Elvis
Seeking Perspective Shift
Ideas on Ice
Sorting Out the Options
New Day in Milwaukee
A Cloistered Convent in Wauwatosa
Conclusion: Up on the Roof
CPS Quick Reference Guide
Jack's Notebook with Author Tips
About the Author
Jack Huber wants to be a photographer, but right now he's just a person working two unfulfilling part-time jobs. Coming home from one of the jobs after nearly getting struck by lightening, Manny Gibran pulls over and offers Jack a ride home. Manny starts to probe a bit into Jack's life, and starts asking pointed questions about setting goals and getting motivated to pursue a big idea. For reasons unknown to Jack at the time, Manny takes a real interest in Jack and promises to follow up to see how things are going. For Jack, he starts seeing a glimmer of hope that things could be different. In relatively short order, he starts to pursue his dream to become a professional photographer. He also meets a woman, Molly, at the local internet cafe who is well-versed in the problem solving technique that Manny laid out. The meeting turns into a friendship where they are both helping each other pursue some goals, but it quickly turns much deeper on Jack's part. Molly has a rather dark and secretive past, and it takes awhile before she's willing to let Jack in on it. This past of hers rudely intrudes on their lives when she abruptly leaves for a trip to visit her sister. This trip turns into a kidnapping situation involving her deranged father. Jack isn't willing to let Molly leave his life, and Manny decides to help him form a resource team to determine the best way to find Molly and rescue her. Throughout the whole story, Fraley's system of Creative Problem Solving, or CPS, guides the characters in their choices and decisions.
Personally, I really liked this book. I could feel for Jack's situation, and the characters had an air of reality to them. It also helped to cement down the CPS concepts when you could see them in a "real life" application. Each chapter starts off with an explanation of where the characters are in the CPS process so that you can relate the action back to the technique. The only minor nit I had with the book is that I would have preferred see a bit more comprehensive discussion of CPS before the author launched into the story. I was having a hard time keeping the process in context based on the brief intro for each chapter. My recommendation would be to read the introduction first, then spend some time with the CPS Quick Reference Guide before starting the story. I think I would have gotten a bit more out of it that way. But even with that, I still gained some invaluable skills for applying to problems I'm currently working through now.
Definitely a worthwhile read...