A Whack on the Side of the Head

Roger von Oech

Eight years ago, I wrote the first edition of this book. It represented some of my basic ideas about the creative process, namely that creativity is fun, necessary, and accessible to all of us. Since then, I've been overwhelmed by the response, not only from North America but from around the world. Again and again, I've received letters from the United States and Canada as well as Japan, Australia, China, India, Europe, the Soviet Union, and South America saying "thanks for sparking my thinking."

If creative thinking was an important survival skill in the 1980's, it's even more important in the nineties. In almost every endeavor, it will be imperative to go beyond what worked in the past, and to come up with new approaches. The first edition of Whack was oriented toward a business audience. The majority of my letters, however, have come from a nonbusiness audience: teachers, students, ministers, public servants, military personnel, prisoners, retired people, as well as business people. I've come to the conclusion that its message is applicable to all walks of life.

There is one audience in particular that I wish to reach with this new edition. Not long ago, I gave a speech at the Minneapolis Press Club. At the end of my talk, I received a question that went something like, "I want you to play visionary and look out into the future. What do you see?" I thought for a little bit and then said, "I bet you want an answer that deals with computers, robots, and biotechnology. However, I think that the real need for creativity is in our basic institutions-especially in the family and in the schools. That's where it needs to be cultivated." I think that anyone who graduates from high school who isn't able to write a cogent paragraph or balance a checkbook-basic critical thinking skills-has been greatly disserviced by their school system. By the same token, I think that because the world is continually changing, students-indeed all people-need creative thinking skills. These creative thinking skills must be encouraged and developed.

This book provides the fundamentals of creative thinking. Whether you're a junior in high school, an account executive at an advertising agency, a software programmer, or a mother raising a family, I think that you'll find some useful ideas in these pages.

Good Luck and Happy Whacking!

Roger von Oech
Atherton, California
New Year's Day 1990


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