The book is chock full of case histories on how companies took otherwise innocuous ideas and created products such as scotch tape and Barbie dolls. As well, Lehrer looks at how the brain is wired and how we can work with an understanding of it to let loose new ideas. He is a huge proponent of the "thinking outside the box" school of thought, noting that you have to leave behind the safety of your expertise and basically forget that something shouldn't work, instead thinking of how it could work. He notes that as we age, our creative process tends to dwindle and that we need to keep finding new challenges to keep thinking creatively.
The underlying theme of not living comfortably, to keep challenging yourself by creating uncomfortable situations to keep the creative process growing is one that I embrace. If life is too easy, too predictable, then nothing will excite you. For Lehrer, this encompasses work and personal lives.
He also talks about the group dynamic and how interactions with many different people can spur new ideas to old problems. As populations in cities become denser, your interactions increase and the exposure to new ideas increases as well. As I said in my last blog, never underestimate the power of a crowd.
Do read this book - you won't be sorry you spent the time. It is well worth it.
**July 25, 2013 - I came across a notation in Lehrer's bio in Wikipedia citing some controversy around his work, including a propensity to self-plagiarize. I still feel that this book is worth a read.