August 31, 2010
The Power of Intrinsic Motivation

Fabulous presentation by Dan Pink on the power of intrinsic motivation and the utter goofiness of "carrot and stick" methodologies to improve business performance. 18 minutes. Worth every second.

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:11 AM | Comments (1)

August 19, 2010
To Create the Future, See Hidden Patterns (and Challenge Them)

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C_n y__ r_ad th__ se_t_nc_ ?

Probably.

And do you know why you can? Because you've been given just enough information to deduce a meaning.

Your brain, drawing on past experiences of letters, words and sentences, recognizes a pattern -- or at least thinks it does.

Human beings are masters at "filling in the blanks." We see something, compare it to our storehouse of past memories, reach a conclusion and then act on it.

This pattern-recognizing ability of ours is very useful tool. It saves us time, lets us to make decisions on the fly, and helps us interpret our world.

For example, when driving up a hill, your pattern recognition ability allows you to keep on driving rather than stop your car to make sure the road continues on the other side.

Past experience has taught you that roads continue, even when you can't see where they're going.

"A genius is only that one who discerns the pattern of things within the confusion of details a little sooner than the average person," explained Ben Shahn.

True. But not always.

After an earthquake, for example, some roads do not continue. In that case, it would not serve you to keep on driving. A routine habit that saved you time in the past might now lead to your quick demise. (Bye bye car payments. Bye bye world).

Indeed, more than a few patterns that we live our lives by turn out to seriously mislead us.

Stereotyping is the most obvious manifestation of this phenomenon, causing us to jump to conclusions. But our conclusions are not always true. In our hurry to make sense of the world, we prematurely "fill in the blanks," trading in reality for reactivity.

The past, instead of serving us, becomes our ruler.

Patterns are neither good nor bad. They're simply the raw material from which we interpret our world.

Weathermen make their living interpreting patterns. So do stock market analysts, futurists, and astrologers. All of them infer a future based on past trends.

Sometimes, however, they misinterpret the clues. Or even more insidiously, cannot detect new patterns inconsistent with their present worldview.

If you want to be more creative, start making a commitment to look for, learn from, and challenge existing patterns. It will help you see the world (and all your problems) in wonderful, new ways -- the fertile ground from which all innovation springs.

AN EXERCISE FOR YOU:
1. What patterns or trends intrigue you?
2. What can you learn from these patterns or trends?
3. What new ideas for a product or service come to mind when you reflect on these patterns or trends?

BONUS QUESTION:
What pattern or trend in your business is not going the way you want it to -- and what can you do to shift it?

Idea Champions

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:46 AM | Comments (3)

August 12, 2010
WOW! First Review of Free the Genie

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Here is a wonderfully comprehensive review of Free the Genie (our new, online brainstorming tool), by Chuck Frey, of Innovation Tools -- one of the leading innovation portals on the web.

If you are looking for an engaging way to stir the creative juices, spark new ideas, and discover unique ways of approaching big challenges, this is your ticket.

And it only takes a few minutes...

To sign up for your free 10-day trial, click here. Or here. Or here.

Client testimonials about the producers of Free the Genie.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:59 AM | Comments (0)

August 11, 2010
35 Creative Thinking Techniques

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Those of us at Idea Champions have been designing and facilitating creative thinking sessions for a wide range of organizations since 1986.

We've worked with left-brained people, right-brained people, and air-brained people -- all of whom have been interested in "getting out of the box."

In the process of providing our service, one thing has continued to astound us: No one has any time, or more precisely -- thinks they have any time. And because they don't, the need to "cut to the chase" remains paramount.

Speed rules -- and along with it the desire for "tools and techniques."

Now, we have nothing against tools and techniques. They can be very helpful. Golf pros give them out all the time. But tools and techniques are never enough -- especially in the realm of creative thinking.

Can they be useful? Yes, they can -- in the same way that jumper cables can be useful if your car won't start. But first you need a car -- and after that, someplace to go! Without a car and a destination, jumper cables are just a meaningless prop.

If you are committed to birthing a BIG IDEA, first understand that the car is you and the engine that powers the car is your passion for bringing something new into the world.

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Only when that is in place, will tools and techniques make sense.

Some of the methods described in Awake at the Wheel will be right up your alley. Some will not. Some are so common-sensical you'll think you could have invented them. Some are so non-sensical you'll dismiss them as trivial.

Don't worry about loving them all. You won't. Just find the ones that interest you and give them a shot -- whatever it takes to get those wheels inside you turning once again.

Two different parts of you will be activated by these methods: the subconscious and the conscious.

The sub-conscious tools will increase your receptivity to new ideas, helping you access the part of you that already knows. Using the subconscious tools will feel a bit like walking into a dark room. At first there will seem to be nothing to see. But after a while your eyes will adjust and you'll begin making sense of what is there.

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The second set of tools is less about receptivity than proactivity.

This approach presumes it is possible to quicken creativity by purposefully shaking things up in various ways. Experimentation is an important part of this approach. Trial and error, too -- much in the same way that chemists mix and match elements in the hopes of synthesizing new discoveries.

Is there a perfect technique? No. Just like there's no perfect diet, place to live, or relationship. What works for you on Monday may not work for you on Sunday. What works for you in the morning may not work for you at night.

But that's what makes the world -- just like the wheel -- go round and round.

And that's why we offer you 35 different methods to choose from. Is there an organizing principle? Yes, there is. The tools fall into five categories:

1. INTEND: To have in mind as something to be done or brought about; to have a purpose or design.

2. ATTEND: To be present at; to take care of or wait upon; to listen and give heed to.

3. SUSPEND: To defer opinion or evaluation to a later occasion; to render temporarily void.

4. EXTEND: To stretch out; to place at full length; to enlarge the scope of or make more comprehensive.

5. CONNECT: To join or unite; to establish communication between; to associate, attach or place in relationship.

Buy the book here.
Read more about the book here.
Watch old Jews telling jokes here.
Get your Innovation Kit here
Discover Woodstock's most beautiful B&B here
Read about Mozart here
Check out one of my son's favorite online cartoons here.

Learn more about Spiro Agnew here
Take ten minutes to get a breakthrough idea here
Don't click anything on this line.
Play with our online Genie here
Read our entertaining FAQ here

Discover why most corporate innovation efforts fail here

Or call us at 845.679.1066 and learn more about how we can help you and your organization get out of the box, the lamp, AND the cave. "If not YOU, who? If not NOW, when?"

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:24 PM | Comments (1)

August 10, 2010
Getting Down to the Business of Creativity

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Here's a terrific article on creativity, based on the work of three Harvard researchers/professors.

According to Teresa Amabile's research, "inner work life" is one of the biggest determinants of creative output. In other words, a positive mood is a pre-condition for creativity in the workplace.

If you are attempting to establish a sustainable culture of innovation in your organization, you (and everyone else) would be well-served to do everything humanly possible to positively impact the mood (i.e. tone, feeling, atmosphere, vibe, spirit) of the environment in which you work.

And that begins, of course, with the individual.

When you treat people with respect, acknowledgment, and genuine positive reinforcement, you significantly increase the odds of creativity -- and by extension, innovation -- flourishing in your organization.

Common sense? For sure. But common sense is all too uncommon in most organizations these days. In our rush to produce, get an edge, and accomplish, we forget the most important thing -- and that is the quality of our interactions with others.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:35 AM | Comments (0)

Who Are We?

Idea Champions is a consulting and training company dedicated to awakening and nurturing the spirit of innovation. We help individuals, teams and entire organizations tap into their innate ability to create, develop and implement ideas that make a difference.

Top 5 Speaker
Mitch Ditkoff, the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions, has recently been voted a top 5 speaker in the field of innovation and creativity by Speakers Platform, a leading speaker's bureau.
Awake at the Wheel, Book about big ideas If you're looking for a powerful way to jump start innovation and get your creative juices flowing, Awake at the Wheel is for you. Written by Mitch Ditkoff, Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions.
See Mitch's keynote address Enjoy a 7-minute interview with Mitch at the Ethical Sourcing Forum in NYC: 3/28/11
Featured in Alltop Guy Kawasaki's Alltop "online magazine rack" has recognized Idea Champions' blog as one of the leading innovation blogs on the web. Check out The Heart of Innovation, and subscribe!
Face the Music Blues Band The world's first interactive business blues band. A great way to help your workforce go beyond complaint.

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Breakthrough Cafe.
A totally unique brainstorming salon. Great food. Great food for thought. Great people. Collaborate, have fun, get out of the box.

"Inno-waiters With Whine Lists" – The Breakthrough Cafe featured in January 2006 issue of
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