December 31, 2008
Welcome to the Ogosphere!

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Greetings! My name is Og, hero of Mitch Ditkoff's book about what it really takes to get a big idea out of your head and into the world.

Back in my day, there was no such thing as an internet. Not even a fishing net. Sticks and stones are what we had. And some wooly mammoths. When we wanted to send a message we pounded on our chests or sent smoke signals.

That's why I'm so pumped about the blogosphere. I mean, seven months after Mitch's book came out, bloggers are still getting the word out. Here's the latest from Christine Jalleh of Malaysia.

She is welcomed around our fire anytime.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:01 PM | Comments (0)

December 22, 2008
The Power of a Single Idea

Take a look at what one person, with a good idea and a lot of chutzpah, can do. It's MATT, a self-described "32 year old deadbeat from Connecticut" who travelled to 42 countries on 7 continents in 6 months and got thousands of people dancing and laughing with him. What seemingly outlandish idea of YOURS is it time to unleash?



About Matt

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:06 PM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2008
METAPHOR: A Bridge Over Deep Waters

All of the creative thinking techniques we teach at Idea Champions are based on the innate capacity of the human mind to make connections, find patterns, and imagine alternatives.

One of these techniques involves using metaphors to give us insight into what our challenge or opportunity really IS under the surface.

But the human capacity for metaphor-making is more than merely an ability. It's the foundation of thought itself. As psychologist and linguist Stephen Pinker states in his The Stuff of Thought, "Metaphor is so widespread in language that it's hard to find expressions for abstract ideas that are not metaphorical."

The word "metaphor" comes to us from the Greek and means to "transfer" or "carry over."

"Transfer or carry over what?" you may ask.

"An image," is the answer.

A metaphor is both an image that is carried over to help us understand a thought AND the bridge upon which it is carried over.

And what does this bridge of metaphor connect? It connects the right brain, which deals in images, to the left brain, which deals in rational thought.

Is that cool or what?

In a new Harvard Business Press book, Marketing Metaphoria: What Deep Metaphors Reveal about the Minds of Consumers, Gerald and Lindsay Zaltman, a father and son marketing team, reveal seven basic deep metaphors, -- "metaphors that structure what we think, hear, say, and do" that should help guide marketing efforts to connect with consumers.

These seven deep ("deep" because they are largely unconscious) and universal metaphors are:

1. Balance
2. Transformation
3. Journey
4. Container
5. Connection
6. Resource
7. Control

If your marketing campaign isn't offering your prospective customers at least one of these qualities, your prospective customers probably aren't connecting emotionally to your product or service. Which means they're probably not buying it. Egads!

Does your product or service help customers regain their balance? Can it transform something into something better? Does it provide them with the experience of a journey or give them a container? Does it help them connect with others, provide a necessary resource, or give greater control over something?

Bottom line: if you want to improve your marketing efforts, you could do a lot worse than invest a few bucks and a little time to study what the Zaltmans are saying.

Once you're clear about what you want to offer your customers on a deep metaphorical level, you can then craft your pitch, offering, or strategy in a more meaningful way.

That is, you can cross that bridge when you come to it.

Posted by Val Vadeboncoeur at 11:11 PM | Comments (3)

December 15, 2008
Hard Times Can Drive Innovation

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Great interview in the Wall Street Journal with Clayton Christensen (author The Innovator's Dilemma and Seeing What's Next etc.)

Here is Clayton's response to being asked what impact the economic downturn will have on innovation:

"One of the banes of successful innovation is that companies may be so committed to innovation that they will give the innovators a lot of money to spend. And, statistically, 93% of all innovations that ultimately become successful started off in the wrong direction; the probability that you'll get it right the first time out of the gate is very low.

So, if you give people a lot of money, it gives them the privilege of pursuing the wrong strategy for a very long time. In an environment where you've got to push innovations out the door fast and keep the cost of innovation low, the probability that you'll be successful is actually much higher."

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2008
Juggling, Creativity, and the Beatles

Twenty years ago, we got our first big contract by teaching AT&T's Director of Training and Development how to juggle in five minutes. (The man had been trying for 25 years). After we taught him, he looked at us and said, "I have no clue what you guys do, but I know you're not a juggling company. Call me on Monday." We did. Three months later, AT&T licensed our creative thinking training. It all began with a juggling lesson. Speaking of which, click below to watch the amazing Chris Bliss take juggling to an entirely new level...

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2008
How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit. - Aristotle

When I was in high school, I entertained the possibility of a career in music. I practiced the trumpet every single day for four years, even when I was ill. Ultimately, a musical career was not to be for me but I regret not a moment of practice. I learned a lot about myself and my capacity for discipline besides deepening my appreciation for music which has been a lifelong pleasure.

I also remember to this day the words of my first trumpet teacher, Irving Renquist, who once said when I first began studying with him that "If you skip practice for one day, you will notice it. If you skip practice for two days in a row, the people you live with will notice it. And if you skip practice for three days in a row, EVERYONE will notice it!"

Musician and neuroscientist, Daniel J. Levitin, in his thought-provoking This is Your Brain on Music, points out that scientific studies indicate that "ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert - in ANYTHING!" Then, to be helpful, he reminds us that ten thousand hours is equivalent to "roughly three hours a day, or twenty hours a week, of practice over ten years." Well, we knew that it was a lot.

For me, this research indicates that what we often call "talent" is often a "capacity for practice" which recalls to mind, in turn, Eric Hoffer's contention that "success is a species of vigor." Of course, this may well be a chicken or egg debate because why would you want to practice for ten thousand hours at something you weren't predisposed to be good at or had at least some kind of talent which could be further developed?

Chicken or egg, whenever we are in awe observing someone's excellence in anything, we are most usually watching the end result of thousands of hours of diligent practice and thousands upon thousands of "mistakes" made and corrected.

I'm always reminded of this when I come to the end of one of our Conducting Genius sessions (as I did recently at AtlantiCare, a very successful New Jersey healthcare organization), where we train a small cadre of participants to become effective brainstorm facilitators/innovation change agents.

No matter how well I've managed to transmit the inner and outer game of eliciting ideas from others, and no matter how intelligent and dedicated the participants are, I know that their future success as innovation change agents depends on how much they will practice using the techniques and insights of the training.

And how much they practice depends on how many opportunities they can find for themselves and THAT depends, in turn, on how supportive their organization is to innovation, in general, AND in exploiting innovation opportunities as they arise, in particular.

This is why I try to drive this point home during Conducting Genius sessions by teaching our budding "innovation ninjas" how to juggle. In one lesson, most of them can't become proficient jugglers, of course, but they DO learn the step by step process of learning HOW to juggle. The missing ingredient? Practice!

The same is true with learning how to innovate on the job, how to run effective brainstorm sessions, or how to do anything, as Levitin reminds us. If we want to master anything in this world, we have to consistently practice that skill, art, craft, science, behavior, thought process, what have you...AND make lots and lots of "mistakes" on our way to mastery. There is no getting around this truth.

So, the next time you see someone exhibiting mastery in juggling, music, sport, cooking...or innovation...remember that you are witnessing a perfection that is the end result of at least ten thousand hours of dropped balls, missed notes, or souffles which don't souffle.

And also remember, that when it comes to innovation, you and your company have to diligently practice the skills, processes, and behaviors that support it. If you don't, EVERYONE will notice it.

Posted by Val Vadeboncoeur at 03:19 PM | Comments (0)

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