The Ogre Inside Us All

A Review of Simon Banks: A Thousand Little Lightbulbs

A Thousand Little LightbulbsWe all have an ogre inside us who enjoys telling us that we are not creative and not good enough. According to author Simon Banks, the path towards innovation starts with battling that ogre and the negative stories it tells us. In his book A Thousand Little Lightbulbs he explores the necessary steps for fighting the ogre and kickstarting a culture of innovation.

Banks’s ideas about creative thinking are presented in the form of a classic how-to book. The structure has logical progression, starting with a basic explanation of corporate innovation and the human ability to be creative. On this foundation Banks lines up step-by-step the framework necessary to building an innovative culture. He strikes a good balance between using examples and data to support his message.

Banks writes in a way that is simple and easy to read. His tone is conversational and casual. Because he is entertaining, it is easy to understand his concepts. He also uses lots of examples to illustrate his viewpoints. As a graphic facilitator and visual artist it comes to no surprise that his book is visually appealing, since it contains many illustrations and graphics.


Three Things I Like About This Book

  1. The simplicity of the book helps bring the main idea across quickly, which is helpful for people working in business without a lot of time. Banks breaks down the process of developing creative thinking into clear, actionable steps.
  2. Banks compiles convincing statistics that connect business, innovation, and creativity. He provides valuable evidence that investing in innovation pays off. My only regret is that most of his findings are from Australia. I wish he had included more international or US-based research and examples.
  3. Asking the right questions is a crucial tool to develop corporate innovation. Banks provides helpful lists of questions that work very well as starting points for conversations to foster innovation.

The Ogre: “ You’re not creative. What you’re doing will look, sound and feel like crap.”

My biggest takeaway

The idea of using the ogre to personify the inner resistance towards new ideas, risks, and creative thinking really spoke to me. The concept itself is not new; for example it is very similar to what Steven Pressfield calls “Resistance” in War of Art. But, I think the visualization of the mean monster helps illustrate one of the biggest obstacles in developing creativity —  the interior monologue of doubt


A Thousand Little Lightbulbs does not deliver new ideas or concepts about creativity and innovation, but it is a practical summary of key findings that can be a  helpful introduction into creativity at work.

First edition: 2018


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