From the February 1997 issue of Entrepreneur

However paradoxical it may sound, creativity can be taught--at least, that's the premise of Jordan Ayan's Aha! 10 Ways to Free Your Creative Spirit and Find Your Great Ideas (Crown Trade Paperbacks, $15 paper).

Skeptical? Don't be. Ayan, a creativity expert who has counseled companies as well-known as Sprint and Kimberly-Clark, is clearly well-versed in the art of getting people to think outside the proverbial box. As he points out, we start out as kindergarteners who are given bulging packs of crayons to express ourselves--and we graduate into adults who boast nothing more colorful than ballpoint pens. The trick, it seems, is to get back a little of the creative ammunition we've lost along the way.

To do that, Ayan outlines a four-stage creative process. From preparation to incubation to illumination to implementation/verification, the process is one Ayan contends can be called upon to stimulate those creative juices.

Refreshingly easy to read, Aha! is jampacked with suggestions to get you over whatever mental hurdles you may have.

Everythings Optimized

There are none so blind as those who refuse to see the clutter on their desks. You know the scenario: Papers piled high enough to resemble small mountains. Post-it notes that could collectively span the globe. Yes, we exaggerate--slightly--but the clutter bug is catching. Which means Everything's Organized (Career Press, $16.99 paper) belongs on more than a few entrepreneurs' bookshelves.

Organizational expert Lisa Kanarek explains how to shape up an office in disarray, without getting hung up on popular misconceptions (no, not everyone should be organized in the same way).

"Some people are born organized, while others struggle throughout their lives," Kanarek writes. "In their quest to get organized, they start to believe misinformation they hear and resign themselves to a life of disorder and chaos. When you take a closer look at the misconceptions associated with organization, you'll realize it's possible for anyone, including you, to get organized."

Fad Surfing In The Boardroom

That would you give for easy answers to all your management dilemmas? How tempting is it to convince yourself that the leadership theory du jouris just the ticket to prosperity? If only you did (fill in the blank), your company would be a lean, smoothly running machine . . . right?

Think again. In Fad Surfing in the Boardroom: Managing in the Age of Instant Answers (Addison-Wesley Publishing, $12 paper), author Eileen C. Shapiro sounds a note of reason against the crescendo of contemporary management theories. Simply put, the book serves as a much-needed reality check.

"The hard truth is that there are no panaceas," Shapiro cautions. "What is new is the sheer number of techniques . . . now positioned as panaceas. What is not new is the need for the courage to manage. In my view, in the age of instant answers, this courage is more valuable than ever."

Throughout Fad Surfing, Shapiro examines such highly touted cure-alls as Total Quality Management, re-engineering and employee empowerment. Confused by the jargon? Don't worry: A dictionary of fad surfer's terms is included.

Improvement is an admirable and realistic ambition--a quick fix is foolish (and short-lived) at best. Before you tinker too much with your company, separate myth from reality. In the end, fad surfing is a dangerous sport indeed.

Entrepreneurs Bookshelf

In Work Concepts for the Future: Managing Alternative Work Arrangements (Crisp Publications, $12.95 paperback), Patricia Schiff Estess reveals how to make flexible work solutions benefit your business.

Books Now

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