Alan Barker's books

Essay Writing Explained: get the ebook

Essay Writing Explained is one of my ebooks available from Bookboon.

Writing an essay means more than finding and recording facts. You need to think critically: analysing material and reaching a conclusion. It means showing that you understand the material you’ve been studying. Above all, it means presenting a coherent argument.

If you’re at high school, college or university, you’ll need to write essays - even if you're studying maths or a science. But learning to write essays also prepares us for life beyond college. In the real world, more and more of us need to be able to express ideas clearly, with good grammar and a flexible style. Essay writing gives us the skills to become more effective citizens.

How do you start? What kind of words should you use? Are you entitled to offer your own views on a subject?

Essay Writing Explained will help you produce an essay that your tutor will appreciate, and that will do you credit.

Here are a few reviews from the Bookboon website.

apple ★★★★★

A very insightful yet practical book for every writer. Thanks.

Idris Osman ★★★★★

Good book. It gives you a clear idea about how to write an essay.

Antonio Mouraz Miranda ★★★★★

One more book to help foreigners to write in English!

Karina Vieira ★★★★★

Very useful! Language is very simple and clear.

Doris J. Marshall ★★★★★

Writing an essay may be easy, but not everyone finds it the same way. Having to read this one, I have found some great ways on how to create an organized and perfect result.

Take a look at Essay Writing Explained.


Creativity at Work

Creativity-at-workCreativity at Work is one of my ebooks published by Bookboon.

Is it magic?  Can we really learn creativity?  And why should we bother?

When I told one of my clients that I was writing a book about creativity at work, he said: “Managers aren’t interested in creativity. They want to know how to manage better.”

Well, maybe.

Creativity has gained a reputation, among some managers at least, as a ‘fringe’ activity: quite fun, but of little practical use in the workplace. A friend of mine refers to it as ‘basketweaving’. And management – most managerial work – is, after all, about getting practical results. It’s about doing what works, and trying to do it better.

Management is about ‘making it happen’.

But what if making it happen isn’t sufficient? What if we need to make something new happen?

What if we need to do something differently rather than better? What if, instead of continuous improvement, we want discontinuous change? What if we want – or need – to create something new?

Of course, those needs might be written in to our job descriptions. Anyone in the ‘creative industries’ – and plenty of people outside them – need to think creatively as a matter of routine. Many of us – doctors, teachers, research scientists, engineers, consultants, marketers – frequently need to find creative solutions for unprecedented problems.

Sometimes, we need to be creative because external circumstances change. Our organisation undergoes a radical restructure; we suddenly face competition from new technologies; our customers start to make new and unexpected demands.

On other occasions, we want to be creative. We might be dissatisfied with our current situation; we may want to change direction radically in our work, our career or our life.

At times like this – when we need to, or when we want to – we need to engage a different kind of thinking: not the routines, protocols and habits of operational work, but different disciplines, different ways of using our imagination and our powers of logic.

Creativity is fun. And it’s also, for more and more of us, key to our success. If you’re interested in unlocking your creative potential, whatever your work, then this book is for you.


Creativity at Work

Creative thinking: a reading list

People often ask me to recommend books about creative thinking.  Here's a short list of the books that I've found most useful over the years.

A reminder: I run courses on creative thinking, problem solving and innovation.   Download these course outlines to find out more.

Download 015_CO_Meeting_Creative thinking_doc

Download 014_CO_Meeting_Problem solving_doc

Download 013_CO_Writing_Managing_Innovation_outline

Contact me if you're interested in working with me in any of these areas. 

First, some books I simply have to recommend, because I know the author so well.  Click on the covers to find out more.

Creativity-at-work 30minutesbrainstorm How to solve almost any problemAlchemy of innovation



Casting the reading net further afield, I would probably start - unsurprisingly, perhaps - with Edward de Bono.  He was enormously prolific, and the best book to start with might be Lateral Thinking for Management.  It introduces his core concepts: lateral thinking and vertical thinking, first- and second-stage thinking, and a whole lot more. 

Tudor Rickards is a source of great wisdom: Creativity and the Management of Change  has inspired me in all sorts of ways.  I also make use of Simon Majaro's book, The Creative Gap, and Vincent Nolan's The Innovator's Handbook.

Lateral thinking for management Creativity and the management of change








If you want more academic material, try these titles.  The Routledge Companion is edited in part by Rickards; and the material published by the Open University is unfailingly excellent.

Routledge companion to creativity Creative management







If you're looking for something a bit lighter but full of practical ideas, I recommend Roger von Oech's bestseller, A Whack on the Side of the Head.  (Von Oech has also produced a Whack Pack:  a set of cards that are great for stimulating creativity and creative conversations.)

Creative whack pack Whack on the side of the head

And finally, for a distinctly different approach to the creative process, you could take a look at Robert Fritz' book, Creating. 



How to Solve (almost) Any Problem: slideshow for my presentation, Directory of Social Change, 23 May 2013

On 23 May 2013, I ran a session during the May Fayre at the Directory of Social Change in London.

DSC is an independent charity with a vision of an independent voluntary sector at the heart of social change.

Thanks to Chrissie, Annette and all the good people of DSC for their help.

'How to Solve (almost) Any Problem' introduces the problem-solving philosophy and practice that I developed in the book of (almost) the same name. 

You can buy copies of the book from Amazon.  There's a Kindle edition, too.

The slides for the session are here. Download DSC_How to solve_presentation_blog

Leadership Outside the Box: notes for my presentation at DSC, 23 May 2013

On 23 May 2013, I ran a session during the May Fayre at the Directory of Social Change in London.

DSC is an independent charity with a vision of an independent voluntary sector at the heart of social change.

Thanks to Chrissie, Annette and all the good people of DSC for their help.

'Leadership Outside the Box' looks at how to embed innovation in our organisations: what it is, why we can't ignore the need to innovate, how to create a sustainable innovation strategy, creative competencies, and a few thinking techniques that can help us cross from operational thinking into innovative thinking.

Much of the material in this session is based on my book, The Alchemy of InnovationThe book is no longer in print, but you can find copies on Amazon, on Bookfinder and on Abe Books.

The notes for 'Leadership Outside the Box' are here: Download Leadership outside the box.


How to Solve Almost Any Problem: early reviews

How to Solve Almost Any Problem is beginning to garner reviews; and so far, they've been good.

Here, for starters, is the review in the October issue of Elite Business, an online magazine.  (Go to page 14.)  (Thanks to Scott English for allowing me to reproduce this review here.)


And here's the review in the September issue of Start Your Business.

I'll add further reviews to this page as they arrive.

The book now also has five Amazon reviews:  you can access them here.