Q & A with Edward B. Burger & Michael Starbird

Photo of Edward B. Burger & Michael Starbird
Edward B. Burger & Michael Starbird

An interview with Edward B. Burger & Michael Starbird, coauthors of The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking


What motivated you to write this book?
Successful people are successful because they think well. Over the past twenty-plus years, we came to realize that better thinking came from specific strategies that anyone can learn and apply. Once we isolated and distilled those strategies, they became the five elements of effective thinking.

What's the main message you would like your readers to get?
We want everyone to discover that they can think far better than they currently do. They can solve business and personal problems more innovatively; they can discover and celebrate previously hidden opportunities in their own worlds. Whether old or young, they can learn and change by following practical and straightforward strategies of effective thinking.

What are your long-term goals for this book?
We hope it will become a standard tool for businesspeople, for students and teachers, for parents and lifelong learners, for athletes, artists, and everyone else. When we ourselves are faced with difficult challenges, we simply turn to the five elements of thinking and inevitably new ideas and approaches appear. We would like institutions--from governments to businesses to schools--to discover new ways to succeed. We hope that individuals in every walk of life will turn to the five elements for inspiration and direction as they face the unknown challenges that always lie lurking.

Can you give some examples of how you hope the book will change the way people think?
Businesspeople have already referred to our ideas as 'an intellectual GPS' that guides them to better ideas. They have reported that the five elements are taped to their desks for ready reference. Students testing these elements have told us that their approach to school was completely changed by them, and that they became more focused on real learning and thinking rather than checking off required boxes toward a degree. Teachers have told us that our concepts have changed their goals in teaching. They became more clearly focused on teaching students to think better in concrete ways offered by their subjects. These teachers found that the goal of teaching creativity, curiosity, and deep understanding profoundly changed what they do inside and outside the classroom.