Think Better

An Innovator’s Guide to Productive Thinking

by Tim Hurson
Published 2007 by McGraw Hill

“In a word, excellent! A practical guide to the power and importance of productive thinking that should be read by everyone.”
— Glenn Bishop, Director of Engineering, Yahoo! Europe

Think you think as well as you can? Think again. Regardless of your basic equipment you can learn to think better — more productively, more creatively, more effectively. Based on Tim Hurson’s acclaimed corporate innovation seminars, Think Better shows you a proven, repeatable process that will help you have more ideas, better ideas, more of the time.

Tim Hurson’s Productive Thinking model has helped thousands of people in Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 corporations around the world think more creatively, more innovatively, and more productively. Learn the real secret of the great minds in history — that productive thinking is a skill that can be learned and developed.

First published in 2007, Think Better was translated into Chinese, Portuguese, Korean, Spanish, Thai, and Polish. The English edition was re-issued with an updated Preface in 2018 by McGraw Hill Professional for their Business Classic series.


“By far one of the most readable, insightful and immediately applicable books on thinking and how the mind works. Get copies for everyone you work with, talk about it together and then get on with inventing your future.”
— Ian Percy, Reg. Psych, CSP, HoF, CPAE author of The Profitable Power of Purpose and Going Deep


There are hundreds of books on thinking or creativity or innovation. Just about every business book, self-help book, pop psych book, and leadership book ever written mentions the importance of thinking better. But there are very few books that provide clear how-to information that can actually help you Think Better.

Think Better is about Productive Thinking — why it’s important, how it works, and how to use it at work, at home, and at play. Productive Thinking is a simple but powerful approach to thinking better. It helps people understand more clearly, think more creatively, and plan more effectively. It’s straightforward to learn, practical to implement, and it works.

Productive Thinking is a game changer.
Everybody talks about innovation these days, but very few actually know how to achieve it. Productive Thinking shines a bright light on the straightforward thinking strategies that creative geniuses have been using for centuries. Productive Thinking brings thinking better out of the closet and packages it in a way that makes it easy for you to grasp and use — so you can think better, work better, and do better in every aspect of your life.

“Marvelously choreographed and insightful treasury of powerful ideas for any professional who relies on brainpower to contribute mightily to their company’s success. This book will give you a remarkably high return investment in You, Inc.”
— Andy Boynton. Ph.D., Dean of The Wallace E. Carroll School of Management at Boston College and author of Virtuoso Teams


“What a wonderful way to encourage us all to think with more productive outcomes! Thanks to Tim Hurson for making thinking productively more accessible and for providing the roadmap to better thinking.”
— Gail Vance Civille, Sensory Spectrum Inc.

Better thinking means more success. The better you can think, the more successful you can be. Great companies are better because they have better ideas, better plans, and better execution. Great people are better because they can think more clearly and creatively about where they want to go and how to get there.

All of us already have the ideas we need to succeed. They are inside us all the time. The trick is to capture them so that you can use them. Haven’t you had your best ideas in the shower or while driving or exercising or just daydreaming? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to capture those ideas and really put them to work? Think Better shows you how.
Think Better shows you how you can start with an intractable technical problem, an unmet consumer need, or a gaping chasm in your business strategy and, by following a clearly defined, practical thinking process, arrive at a robust, innovative solution.

Global companies use Hurson’s Productive Thinking Model to generate innovative solutions to complex business problems. Think Better shows you how to translate even the toughest personal or financial problems into powerful, practical solutions.

“Tim Hurson provides us with an effective and well thought out system for stimulating innovative ideas. More than worthwhile — a must.”
— Roger von Oech, author of A Whack on the Side of the Head


“This exceptionally insightful book provides useful processes and takeaways that will enable the reader to think better in business. The clarity of Hurson’s recommendations in suggesting productive thinking by a 6-step process is terrific. I heartily recommend this lively, pragmatic and insightful book for anyone looking to think better, both in business and in life.”
— Timothy S. Mescon, Ph.D., Dean, Coles College of Business, Kennesaw State University

The Productive Thinking Model described in Think Better consists of six interlocking steps:

In Step 1: What’s Going On? You’ll discover new ways to truly understand your issues and challenges so you can avoid the “Great Answer – Wrong Question trap that so many people and organizations fall into. You’ll learn a straightforward, unforgettable way to analyze every problem so you can really understand what’s making you itch and why, who else is involved, and what you need to know to move forward.

In Step 2: What’s Success? You’ll learn the secret of visioning — imagining the future you want to see so you can determine clear, measurable goals and criteria for success. This is the step where you harness the power of dreams so you can establish what Hurson calls Future Pull. You will learn how to take a grappling hook and throw it into your desired future, so you can pull yourself toward it. This is where you overcome the gravitational pull of the past by painting a picture of a future so powerful and compelling that you it literally pulls you toward it.

“I started reading Think Better for business reasons. At the same time, I had become aware that my son was having problems in school. I decided to take myself through Tim’s process. By the time I was done, I had 8 new ideas and an action plan. Thank you, Tim! I will be using this process in all areas of my life.”
— Rhonda Page, Brand Strategy Director, Dossier Creative


“Fresh and new. You definitely want to learn more about how to Think Better. I love the extraordinary quotes sprinkled throughout the book.”
— Dr. Alvin Augustus Jones, talk-radio host, The Dream Network, WHNC-AM

In Step 3: What’s the Question? you’ll learn how to effectively frame your challenge. Over and over we hear how questions are more important than answers. But how do you figure out the right questions to ask? In this step Hurson explains the power of Catalytic Questions — questions that if answered well open doorways to powerful, innovative solutions.

Articulating the Catalytic Questions to your challenge is like finding that one thread in a knot that seems to loosen all the other threads and allows you to find a solution.

In Step 4: Generate Answers you’ll learn why Brainstorming is like cholesterol. There’s good Brainstorming and bad Brainstorming. And most of us have experienced only the bad. Bad Brainstorming usually produces only a few ideas — and not very original ones at that. Good Brainstorming lets you get to what Hurson calls the Third Third — those answers that are full of creativity and promise, not just the same-old, same-old answers you’ve heard hundreds of times before. But answers that really do have to power to produce innovative results.

“Tim Hurson has produced a brilliant, thought-provoking, extremely easy-to-read, but meaningful book on how to become more productive by thinking more critically and creatively. Think Better is one of the best creativity books I have read in my 30 years in the creativity field. Buy it, read it, and change your life!!”
— Arthur B. VanGundy, Ph.D., author of Getting to Innovation: How Asking the Right the Questions Generates the Great Ideas Your Company Needs


“I rarely get so excited about a book. Tim Hurson’s Think Better is pace-setting. Its examples and stories are powerful. It will serve as a primary sourcebook for those searching for exciting ideas on innovating productively. I am proud and honored to heartily endorse this book.”
— Sid Parnes, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor, International Center for Creative Studies, State University College at Buffalo; Founder of the Creative Education Foundation; author of The Magic of Your Mind


In Step 5: Forge the Solution you’ll learn how to use one of the most exciting tools in the Productive Thinking Model. It’s called POWER, and it presents a whole new way of evaluating ideas — not just judging them as good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable, but actually improving them. POWER is a way to exercise what Hurson calls generative judgment — a way of evaluating ideas that actually makes them stronger, more robust, and more workable. You’ll see how you can transform what might at first seem like ho-hum ideas into a powerful, innovative solutions. With POWER you will have a tool that can truly turn good into great.

In Step 6: Align Resources you’ll learn the simplest, fasted way to take your solutions and translate them into workable action plans. How many potentially great ideas never see the light of day because they seem too complicated, too impossible to even start? How often have your great ideas remained just that — great ideas. In this step Hurson introduces a practical approach to take ideas off the drawing board and make them into reality. You’ll be introduced to tools like EFFECT and The Great Wall of Time to help you understand, gather, and manage the resources you need to get the job done. Whether you’re working alone or in a team you need to marshall the resources to transform creative impulses into innovative slutions. Think Better shows you how.

“If we are to survive, and thrive, during the 21st century, we need to think much better than we did in previous centuries. This book is a must read. It is an unique “think journey” and will take you places you have never been before.”
— Kobus Neethling PhD, President, South African Creativity Foundation; author of Author Am I Clever or Am I Stupid?


“This book is great! I really enjoyed it. It’s easy to read with lots of provocative examples. Tim will get your gray matter in an uproar. I can’t stop thinking about Think Better. But you should. Stop thinking about buying this book and go buy it…NOW.”
— Stephen Shapiro, author of 24/7 Innovation

It is quality of thinking that differentiates great companies and people from merely good ones. Hurson believes that most organizations have the ideas they need inside their own walls. And most people have great ideas inside their own heads. The trick is to get them out — and turn them into reality.

Think Better shows how great companies and great individuals have succeeded by applying a set of easy-to-learn, practical principles that can actually raise the power of people’s thinking. By developing your Productive Thinking capacity you can generate more ideas, more innovative ideas, more workable ideas, and, ultimately, more success.

Whether working alone or in teams, individuals will get better results in less time by developing their Productive Thinking skills. With Productive Thinking, individuals discover a new sense of freedom, confidence, and possibility, project teams perform at the highest level of productivity and creativity, and solutions are transformed from good to inspired.

“This jewel not only reinforces the vital need to think better, not only the how to, but also the why to incorporate this into your business (and life). We are always looking for the ideas that will return dividends — here’s the formula to find it.”
— Brian Oates, Imprint: The Business Author Interview Podcast

Click here to listen to a podcast interview with Brian Oates.


“Now I’ve read Tim Hurson’s book I know that thinking isn’t a simple activity: it comes in different shapes and flavours. At first sight this is a book aimed at companies, but it contains material that is of equal use to creative writers, especially those who have hit a block, or whose writing has settled into a comfortable rut.”
— Veronica Stallwood, author of Oxford Remains and 12 other Kate Ivory mysteries

More than anything, Productive Thinking is an attitude that will let you look at problems and convert them into opportunities. At the end of this disciplined brainstorming process, you’ll have a concrete action plan, complete with timelines and deadlines.

We all know people about whom we say, wow he’s sharp, or she’s wise, or they so creative. Here’s the good news. Anyone can learn how to think better. Thinking skills are not innate. It’s not: Either you have them or you don’t. Anyone can learn to think better. And it’s not even that hard. It’s just that until relatively recently we didn’t understand what made some people seem to be smarter or more creative than others. Most of the people we admire for their creativity or their wisdom or their understanding discover these secrets by accident. In fact, they don’t even know what it is they are doing. But cognitive research is clear that you can learn how to think better, and the principles of doing so are pretty simple.

To create the future, you first must be able to imagine it. Productive Thinking is a way to help you do that.

“Think Better is a well-researched book with very sound information on content and process to help the trainer, teacher or practitioner. A ‘must-read’ for scholars, managers, leaders and entrepreneurs and anyone else who has to navigate the complexities of a competitive environment.”
— Dr. Kanes K Rajah MSc. PhD, Director, Centre for Entrepreneurship, University of Greenwich Business School


“This is the best book I’ve ever read on the subject of creative and innovative thinking. I’ve read the experts and Hurson has set a new standard for accessibility, interest, and emotional connection to the topic. Read it and see, you won’t be sorry.”
— Gregg Fraley, author of Jack’s Notebook: a business novel about creative problem solving

Click here to listen to a podcast of Gregg Fraley interviewing Tim Hurson.


“If you are interested in creating the future for your team, organization or the planet, put down the crystal ball and pick up a copy of Think Better. We will all be better for it.”
— Colin Funk, Creative Programming Director, Leadership Learning Lab, The Banff Centre


To book Tim for a speaking engagement or for his consulting services, send a message to