How to Use the KnowBrainer Thinker Tool (2023 User Guide)
The KnowBrainer is a power tool that gives your brain a head start.
— Singapore Service College
Using the KnowBrainer day to day, does not require a $150 an hour consultant.
— Ben McConnell & Jackie Huba, Authors of Creating Customer Evangelists
The KnowBrainer is quick and easy to use. Everyone needs this amazing thinking tool.
— Amy Curtis, Abbott Labs
Useful, inspiring tool accelerates your APPLIED creativity. I've used several versions of this tool for nearly 15 years ... individually and with groups. It applies to individual writing projects, group brainstorms, problem-solving, and more! You don't just get good ideas from using it. You get clarity ... clearer problem solving AND solution generation. Plus, it's fun, interesting, and encouraging to use.
— Lee Man, 5-Star Amazon Review, January 2020
Idea Generation. If you're looking for a way to kick start novel thinking in a fun and engaging way, then this is a tool for you (and your company). The KnowBrainer tool is effective in assisting individuals and teams to break from their ordinary approaches to 'brainstorming' by providing a variety of prompts that leads to a large quantity of ideas (the value of the ideas to be determined at a later date). If your objective is to massive output, this tool could prove effective.
— Stephen Melamed, 5-Star Amazon Review, January 2020
The KnowBrainer tool is a simple and powerful addition to your innovation resources. The KnowBrainer tool is a great tool to help stimulate high-value creative thinking. Its portability makes it easy to take anywhere, while its distinctive “fan design” adds a tactile stimulus that you can’t get from a mobile app. The amount of wisdom shared and mental stimulus provided is really impressive for such a compact tool. The color-coding makes it easy to navigate as well. I’ve used the KnowBrainer tool on my own and in teams. I’ve used the tool for immediate creative problem solving and for longer-term, broad-scope strategic thinking. I’ve used it in for-profit businesses and nonprofit charities.
— Brad Barbera, 5-Star Amazon Review, January 2020
I keep one in my toolbox -- you should, too. The KnowBrainer has been an essential part of my facilitation toolkit for more than 20 years. It guides you through a process, and fits so many situations. It gets people un-stuck, and sustains energy & momentum when you need a group to stay on task. I'm glad to see Gerald continues to update it with new insights and experience.
— Mark Stinson, 5-Star Amazon Review, January 2020
A great tool for brainstorming, innovation, and new product development. I stumbled upon the KnowBrainer Tool as an MBA student. The KnowBrainer provides a concise way to generate ideas and spark thoughts that you may have overlooked and you can fit it in your pocket! If you are looking for a sound and sensible way to innovate and generate ideas where brainstorming is a required part of the process, then this tool can help you discover several outcomes when perhaps you didn't see any at first. It's the pocket dictionary for brainstorming, innovation, and new product development. Why wouldn't you want that at your fingertips? If you have a phd in all of the above, maybe it's all in your head, you can spin out new ideas and patent it overnight and you don't need it, but I still think for the price, it's a no nonsense pragmatic, yet formidably abstract solution at the same time! It all depends how you use it!
— Nicholas Antoni, 5-Star Amazon Review, January 2020
Powerfully simple. A smart investment for enhanced creativity and innovation. Over the years, the KnowBrainer tool has become my go-to resource for developing and implementing creative ideas. I’ve used it often as a creative director for ad agencies and as Senior Manager of Global Digital for Hershey. What’s the secret? Like a great coach it brings you back to fundamentals. Some people want to dive into creative solutions when they haven’t investigated or even defined a problem to solve or need to fill. The KnowBrainer effortlessly takes you through four stages – Investigate Needs, Create Ideas, Evaluate Solutions, and Activate Plans. It’s a compact pocket-sized card deck that provides smart questions, quotations, and visual prompts to help you develop ideas and make them actionable. If you want to enhance your personal creativity or inspire colleagues or groups to develop solutions to problems, I strongly and enthusiastically recommend the KnowBrainer tool.
— Martin Baker, 5-Star Amazon Review, January 2020
It’s easy and intuitive. The KnowBrainer tool is like a big sigh of relief. It’s simple, intuitive and flexible. I’m at one with it in minutes. Anytime I’m stuck in a problem I use the tool and it helps me break free of constrained thinking and gives me a bigger thought process. I’ve been using it for 30 years and it’s always close by. I keep one on my desk and one in my backpack.
— Tom Gruba, 5-Star Amazon Review, January 2020
A powerful and effective ideation tool. The KnowBrainer is a pocket-sized creativity tool that does an excellent job of leveraging the mind’s capabilities of association to a major advantage. Developer Gerald Haman has spent years collecting and measuring the effectiveness of key words and questions that generate the most ideas, and he has incorporated them (along with evocative images and quotes) into this colorful, fun-to-use flip card deck. When you first see it, you may be tempted to dismiss the KnowBrainer as a simple card deck, but don’t let its low-tech “interface” fool you. This is one powerful and easy to use idea-generation tool!
— Chuck Frey, 5-Star Amazon Review, January 2020
Get outside of your own box! This tool completely helps you get out of your own way and out of your box to generate innovative ideas that will excite you to the point of implementing change you can be passionate about. It doesn't matter what you want to innovate; a service, a product, a way of thinking, etc. The KnowBrainer makes you think past your own 'low-hanging fruit' and reach deep inside and the far-reaching top to uncover winning ideas. It's definitely a no brainer!
— Laura Menze, 5-Star Amazon Review, January 2020
The key to your creative brain. I've had a KnowBrainer since 2008 and was introduced to it as I started learning about creative problem-solving. This is an excellent tool for anyone who needs to be creative on demand but struggles under the pressure to produce the bold and brave ideas they know are stuck in their heads. You can use it as part of a structured innovation process working from investigating the problem to creating new ideas to evaluating them and finally creating actionable plans. But it works equally as well as a jumpstart to get your brain creative again when you need to rethink a problem or get unstuck from the same old ideas. At this point, I have it memorized and quickly pull from it what I need when I need to do my best thinking but for years I wouldn't let this out of my site. The best moment is when you pull it out in a meeting to some weary looks only to have a crowd of people asking you where they can get one 30 minutes later.
— Dana V. Montenegro, 5-Star Amazon Review, January 2020
A Unique and Innovative tool to encourage Innovative, Creative Thinking for ANY Organization! I have been using this for a number of years. It rapidly became one of the most powerful tools in my leadership, people development, and innovation toolbox. The KnowBrainer Thinker Tool makes it easy to get the juices flowing, taking the fear and judgment out of brainstorming while showing users how to be creative with their thinking. I highly recommend this "Thinker Tool" for anyone at any level of an organization to get people talking, creating and innovating.
— Tim Callison 5-Star Amazon Review, January 2020
The KnowBrainer Tool is a must have stimulus for your innovation process! As a Motorola Senior Fellow heading the Advanced Development, Technology and Innovation Group, my team instituted new initiatives to enhance innovation leveraging emerging technologies in the commercialization of new products. One of these initiatives was the "Innovation Stimulus Process" that used the KnowBrainer tool to create ideas, evaluate solutions and activated plans to take new products to market. We were introduced to the KnowBrainer tool during one of Gerald Haman's training session in 1998 and from then on, we always used it as an essential part of the "Innovation Stimulus Process" with great success, as it was demonstrated by an over 500% increase of patents filed. As a result, I do recommend the KnowBrainer tool as a must have to help increase ideas, creativity and new business opportunities!!
— Jaimie Borras, 5-Star Amazon Review, January 2020
KnowBrainer is a good innovation and problem-solving tool. For years I have used the ideas around the four steps of the KnowBrainer Investigate, Create, Evaluate, Activate in my consulting with companies. They form an approach to problem-solving and innovation that works. In addition, the prompts contained in the KnowBrainer tool are useful in getting people to move forward quickly in their thinking and deliver better quality in their collaborations. It's a good tool and I recommend it.
— Bill Burnett, 5-Star Amazon Review, January 2020
EASY to use and a POWERFUL tool to engage & creatively motivate your team of 1 or 1 million! We used the KnowBrainer to create more engaging sales presentations for our media clients. The KnowBrainer takes all the guess work out of "are we doing everything we can to be the best and serve our client base"? Get it, use it, keep it on your desk and use it EVERY DAY for any business challenge, large or small. No more waiting for someone else to come up with an idea -- The KnowBrainer will lead you to it EVERY TIME! You won't believe how creative and innovative you and your team can be with the KnowBrainer!!!
— Abby Polonksi, 5-Star Amazon Review, January 2020
A must have for your creative toolbox. Our company has used the KnowBrainer system for 20+ years. We have not found a better system that jumpstarts the creative process. By using this system your time will be efficient, ideas will be organized and productivity high. Having a consistent catalyst such as the KnowBrainer built into our creative process has made us better.
— Gary Vlk, 5-Star Amazon Review, January 2020
Hooked on The KnowBrainer. I have used this tool and process for stimulating creative idea generation in every role I have had since it was introduced to me. It provides a useful structure for initiating and inspiring innovation from the first-timer to even the most experienced creative-type. I highly recommend this simple yet clever tool.
— Kevin Lawrence, 5-Star Amazon Review, January 2020
Long Time Use of the KnowBrainer! In my business, I help people with training content development and delivery. I am often found grabbing my KnowBrainer to help inform conversations with clients--and especially when I'm stuck for how to get started. Using the tool I am able to find or define a process where that information isn't patently obvious. You'll not be sorry for making this purchase! Having met Gerald several years ago and attended more than one of his classes, I own a couple of Know Brainers--and they are well used!
— Dawn Mahoney, 5-Star Amazon Review, January 2020
Much More Than a Creativity/Innovation Tool. It is amazing for brainstorming sessions, wanting creative ideas, working toward better innovation in an organization for for life. But it can be applied to SO MANY MORE environments. Some questions can be changed slightly for use with process improvement conversations, naming a product, planning for creating a new website. It can be used by groups and individuals. I used it for a planning meeting for a group of new church leaders. When I was a consultant I carried one in my laptop bag, and when onsite with clients maybe one even in my purse. And I always have one on my desk. Sometimes we just need to think about things differently. The Knowbrainer gives us a chance to look at an existing problem through a new lense. It is reasonably enough priced to buy one for team members, pair people up and show them how to use it (anyplace generating ideas will be beneficial). Or just for you! Enjoy!
— Renie McClay, 5-Star Amazon Review, January 2020
Creativity in a small package. The KnowBrainer Thinker Tool continues users to get better and better. Bring it into a meeting or use it when you are stumped for ideas on your own. When I bring it out in a meeting everyone gets energized.
— Hazel Wagner, 5-Star Amazon Review, January 2020
Essential Tool to Support Innovation Activities. This simple-to-use tool helps to organize effective execution of Innovation Initiatives. Our Company made it and the training in its use the cornerstone of our Innovation activities. I still use it in my new role in Municipal Government.
— Robin Black, 5-Star Amazon Review, January 2020
The Most Effective Tool to Overcome Anchoring. Daniel Kahneman taught us the power of suggestion and how that suggestion anchors our thinking. This simple psychological truth explains why poor inquiry destroys effective innovation. "So how about making it out of plastic?"- is no way to journey into better products or services. I've been using the KnowBrainer Thinker Tool before I knew why it was so effective. Few people know how to approach productive, innovative, bias-free, anchor-free inquiry without good tools and good processes. The KnowBrainer is the best tool to avoid mediocre ideation.
— Dan Heck, 5-Star Amazon Review, January 2020
Creating Powerful New Idea Neighborhoods with the KnowBrainer Thinker Tool. I am a retired VP of Research & Development, Operations for Kraft Foods. We utilized the KnowBrainer Thinker Tool to generate ideas that we never would have arrived at using the wide spectrum of traditional ideation methods. It takes you to powerful Big idea neighborhoods, that one would never venture into without the unique ideation stimulus that this Tool Provides. A low cost must-have for every product developer’s tool box, regardless of what you are trying to do.
— John Gregg, 5-Star Amazon Review, January 2020
I Use KnowBrainer Solo and with Teams. I got the KnowBrainer tool when I attended a brainstorming seminar years ago. Its one of the only analog tools that keeps delivering benefits, no matter version upgrades on electronics, because any tab I flip to will spark either a question or a new word or insight - something new I hadn't considered. We've written books and countless presentations and this thing clears roadblocks like nothing else.
— Robert Jordan, 5-Star Amazon Review, January 2020
One of the Best Creativity Tools ever invented! The KnowBrainer is a simple-to-use yet extremely powerful tool for ideation, creativity, innovation, brainstorming, organizing thought, and much more. I personally have used the KnowBrainer to come up with new ideas for my personal life, business life and in working with others to help them develop new ideas as well. I can't recommend it highly enough!
— Harry Higinbotham, 5-Star Amazon Review, January 2020
Don't leave home without it! I have used my KnowBrainer tool for over 10 years and it never stops delivering value! Not only have I used the KnowBrainer tool throughout my engineering positions, I have used it to facilitate innovation and creativity in almost every discipline including HR, marketing, finance, manufacturing, legal, and more. Additionally, it's great to use in your personal life as well. Don't leave home without it! :)
— Corinne Miller, 5-Star Amazon Review, January 2020
Great Tool with Flexibility to Inspire. I've used this tool in both systematic and random ways to either guide an innovation process through steps or get a person or team unstuck by flipping through random cards. The tool is durable, colorful, and filled with good questions, quotes, and photos to spark ideas. It is great to see the eyes of the team members as they surprise themselves with ideas popping out. I also love the simplicity of the design with the cards fanning out. Easy to carry and use.
— Diana Baldi, 5-Star Amazon Review
A Very Unique and Powerful Tool to Foster Innovation. The KnowBrainer Tool is one of the most powerful tools I have ever used to stimulate creativity and innovative thinking both in industry and as a professor. Questioning is a very powerful approach in general and this tool provides a structure to the process that really works.
— James Treleaven, 5-Star Amazon Review
A Tool for Conscious Innovation. The KnowBrainer is a great tool both for a structured process for innovation and a tool for spontaneous creativity and thinking. Using the tool actually helps to learn the 4-stage process Gerald created and teaches in his workshops. The tool is very compact, so it's easy to take it to any place you want to work. I keep it on my desk as a reminder to pick it up and use it. It's a great tool to use with a whiteboard or mindmap on my iPad. I've used it by myself and with co-workers. The other thing is that it provides a framework for expanding beyond the tool. For example, each stage has quotes to consider related to the stage. I also use other quotes that I look up. Same for images, nouns, and other aspects of the tool. It's a really powerful tool. It does make the innovation process a conscious process.
— Shawn Lock, 5-Star Amazon Review
The Best Creativity Tool I've Ever Used. I have used the previous versions of the KnowBrainer for over twenty years both for my client work and for my only strategic and other types of planning. It's easy to use and extremely flexible. Every time I've used it with clients they have asked where they can buy more so they can distribute it internally for creativity, innovation, and strategic sessions! Gerald has also facilitated sessions for my clients, both domestic and international, which have always been highly successful. You will love the KnowBrainer!
— Mike Monar, 5-Star Amazon Review
Great Tool for Enhancing Creativity and Communications Skills. I have used the KnowBrainer Thinker Tool many times for both Innovation/Creativity and for Communications workshops. Clients remember this tool years after I have given the workshop so it has a real impact on them. I highly recommend the KnowBrainer Thinker Tool for non-profit as well as for-profit clients and for a local church group. Go for it!!!
— Deb Taber, 5-Star Amazon Review
Great for Planning. I can't say enough about KnowBrainer. The tool is easy to use and it helps cut through noise to get to answers and ideas. It's good for any setting - corporate, office, offsite, personal, you name it. I've personally used it for strategic planning and brainstorming activities. It keeps people engaged and get's the most out of a group. Great buy and well worth the investment.
— Chris Cooledge, 5-Star Amazon Review
Powerful Tool that Triggers Thinking in All Stages of the Innovation Process. This small tool is small enough to carry around and powerful enough to help you and your team think through all stages of Innovation: Investigate, create, activate, and evaluate. The tool offers a variety of ways to stimulate ideas: questions, images, quotes etc. I've used this both personally and with my work team.
— Jeannie Clinkenbeard, 5-Star Amazon Review
Creativity, Inspiration & Innovation - Effective! This pocket tool is just effective. Easy to use and is the best business and life hack I've found. I've used the Knowbrainer in every aspect of my business to solve problems, answer questions, generate ideas and succeed.
— David Blake, 5-Star Amazon Review
Great tactical and strategic planning tool for clarifying what's need and wanted. The KnowBrainer is a great aid for clarifying what's needed and wanted when creating tactics and strategies.
— Amazon Customer, 5-Star Amazon Review
It is an endless source of creative material that can stimulate your own innovation. I have used the KnowBrainer tool for many years and still find it incredibly useful when faced when challenging questions and problems that need solving. I found it so useful that I have bought several of them and use them regularly in brainstorming sessions and Accelerated Innovation events. This tool remains a vital part of Innovation Toolbox.
— Amazon Customer, 5-Star Amazon Review
If you are looking for a creativity tool that is powerful, portable, and low tech, then you ought to check out the KnowBrainer. This tool does an excellent job of leveraging the mind’s capabilities of association to a major advantage. It may look like a simple tool, but don’t let the KnowBrainer’s low-tech “interface” fool you. This is one powerful and easy to use idea generation tool.
— Robert Brands, Innovation Coach
It's invaluable. The KnowBrainer has revolutionized my approach to all my business and personal endeavors. Success is at your fingertips when you get your hands on a KnowBrainer.
— Janice Shokrian