How Do You Get Teenagers to Clean Up Their Room?
While it is true that this blog is the third most popular innovation blog in the world, and while it is also true that, last year, I was voted the #1 innovation blogger in the world, both of these factoids pale in comparison to what I am about to present to you in the next paragraph.
Today, I finally realized what all of my blogging has been about for the past four years. Not to monetize my efforts. Not to build the brand of my company. Not to win friends and influence people. No way.
All of that stuff, of course, is nice, but none of it comes within a light year to the question I'm going to lay on you in the next paragraph -- the answer to which may just change the axis upon which the earth rotates or, at the very least, provide millions of parents with the answer to a question they have long since stopped asking.
How do you get teenagers to clean up their room?
As the proud father of a 14-year old girl and 17-year old boy, I now understand that all my efforts to help organizations establish robust, sustainable cultures of innovation is a piece of cake compared to the Olympian task of getting my two teenagers to clean their rooms.
Zen Masters cry when I ask them for advice on this subject. Grandparents laugh. Psychologists look wistfully into the distance and mumble very long German words.
I was beginning to think that no one knows the answer, but then I remembered there are thousands of really smart, creative, entrepreneurial innovators reading this blog -- some of whom are actually parents, and some of whom are actually in the Federal Witness Protection Program.
And so, ladies and gentleman, without further ado (adieu?), if you want to join in the crowd sourced, existential fun, all you need to do is write your answer to my question in the comments section below. (If you can't figure out how to do that, simply shoot me an email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
To make it worth your while, I will be awarding fabulous prizes to the three people who submit the most insightful and actionable ideas (according to my big, fat highly subjective opinion).
But wait, there's more!
I will present all of your suggestions to Jesse (17) and Mimi (14) -- assuming they will come out of their rooms to talk to me. I will then ask for their feedback and post their replies on this blog, along with an announcement of the three winners, in mid-January.
Multiple submissions are perfectly acceptable, even if the submissions, themselves, (like the rooms of teenagers and the parents of teenagers) are not perfect.December 29, 2011
Last Chance to Cast Your Vote
If you have received any value from my blog posts in 2011 and believe that I qualify for the "Top Innovation Blogger of 2011" award, please click here. Casting your vote will take less than 60 seconds.
The contest is sponsored by Innovation Excellence, the most popular innovation blog in the world. Being nominated as a "top 40 innovation blogger" is a great honor. But an even greater honor will be voted the #1 blogger.
Thanks, in advance, for your support. The polls close on December 30th. Happy New Year from all of us at Idea Champions!
Mitch DitkoffDecember 27, 2011
The Selective Attention Test December 25, 2011
Intro to Divergent Thinking
Sir Kenneth Robinson makes a lucid, three-minute case for the power of divergent thinking and offers a surprising factoid (which intuitively you already know).
Thanks to Scott "Divergent" Cronin for the heads up.Merry i-Christmas from the Heart of Innovation! December 23, 2011
Treat Crazy Ideas With Respect
The next time somebody approaches you with a "crazy" idea, pause before putting them down. Instead of looking for what's wrong, look for what's right.
See if you can find a hidden jewel in the idea, a principle, an essence that is promising -- even if the idea itself is rough, raw, or imperfect.
The fact is: most great inventions, products, or services begin as a crazy idea. Maybe 99 out of 100 times, the so-called crazy idea will go nowhere, but the 100th time it just may be a winner.
One more thing -- if you make a habit of trashing other people's "crazy" ideas too quickly, people will stop approaching you with any idea. Then all you'll be left with are your own.December 21, 2011
Water the Seed of Fascination
The reason why many of us do not get inspired ideas is because we are not inspired. The reason we are not inspired is because we do not follow our fascinations. The reason we do not follow our fascinations is because we judge them as impractical, irrelevant, or impossible.
And so it goes -- sometimes for an entire life.
The good news? This cycle can be reversed.
It begins by suspending judgment. It's followed by entertaining what fascinates you. It continues by getting inspired and then acting on the fruit of your inspiration.
WHAT TO DO
1. On a piece of paper, create three parallel headlines -- the first, "What Fascinates Me," the second, "People I Admire," and the third, "What I Would Do If I Had More Time."
2. Jot down at least five responses under each headline.
3. Look for connections between your various responses.
4. Write down your inspired ideas. Then circle your favorite.
December 17, 2011
Are You an Idea Addict?
There are lots of things in this world people get addicted to: alcohol, nicotine, heroin, sex, and iPhones just to name a few.
But perhaps the biggest addiction of them all is the addiction to our own ideas. Here's how it works:
We think something up. We feel a buzz. We tweak it, we name it, we pitch it, and POOF, the addiction begins.
At first, like most habits, it's a casual pursuit with a thousand positive side effects: increased energy, renewed focus, and a general feeling of well-being. Like wow, man. But then...
We think about it in the shower. We think about it in the car. We think about it when people are asking us to think about other things. We even dream about it.
Soon we want everyone to know about it. We want them to feel the buzz. We want them to nod in agreement. We want them to recognize just how pure our fixation is.
If this is where it ended, it wouldn't be that big of a deal. I wouldn't be calling it an addiction. Maybe I'd be calling it an "inspiration," or a "commitment" or a "visitation from the Muse." But it doesn't end here. It goes on and on and on and on -- often to our own detriment.
If you have a business, of course, you want to conjure up cool ideas. That's a good thing. But if you cling to ideas just because they're yours, or just because you've invested major mojo in them, then it's definitely time to rethink where you're coming from.December 16, 2011
The Atlassian FedEx Day Goes Global
Atlassian is a very successful Australia-based software company founded in 2002. It has 400+ employees, with 125 of them in San Francisco.
It also has more than 17,000 satisfied clients including Google, Netflix, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, LinkedIn, Pixar, Adobe, Hulu, Salesforce, UPS, Nike, and Coca-Cola.
Atlassian's software helps companies organize their data, track it, collaborate about it, and detect/fix bugs in their software.
Yeah, I know... I had never heard of them before either.
But those days may soon be over. Atlassian is fast becoming famous not only for their popular software development tools, but also for their rapidly-spreading innovation creation playfully named "FedEx Day".
Very simply, FedEx Day is a 24-hour innovation immersion event that enables employees to brainstorm, prototype, and pitch their emerging innovations.
Why is it called "FedEx Day"? Because the goal of the 24-hour blitz is for participants to originate, develop, and deliver new products, new services, or business process improvements overnight.
FedEx Days typically begin on a Thursday afternoon at 2:00 pm and end with a spirited round of presentations delivered exactly 24 hours later.
The experience is energizing, empowering, and exciting -- with the company supplying pizza and beer (this DID originate in Australia, after all) for everyone on Thursday night.
The end result? Lots of useful and successful innovations that would not have materialized had employees been required to stick with their "day jobs."
Atlassian has been, internally, conducting FedEx Days (now done quarterly) since 2005. But this program is now spreading like a Charlie Sheen Twitter meme. Many other organizations, like Yahoo, Symantec, Flickr, Hasbro Toy, and the Mayo Clinic have all begun conducting their own versions of FedEx Day.
And, NOW, for the first time ever, Atlassian is offering to send their own FedExperts to one deserving company in order to help them conduct their own FedEx Day.
Explains Jonathan Nolen, one of Atlassian's FedExperts, "It's so exciting. The possibilities are endless. Everyone has great ideas and this gives them a way to unleash the power of those ideas. And it happens all over the organization. It's incredibly inspiring to see this happen in real time."
Atlassian's Annelise Reynolds agrees. "This is part of a new trend in business where companies are understanding the importance of engaging and energizing their employees. It works wonders for both the companies and their employees. The employees have fun and the companies get some great innovations."
Entering is simple. All you need to do is fill out this entry form and make a convincing case for why YOUR company or department could use a 24-hour innovation blitz.
Deadline is December 21st, 10:00 PM Pacific Time! Good luck! And good on ya, mate!
- Val Vadeboncoeur
When you come to a fork in the road, how do you know which way to go? How do you decide? Do you have a way to tune in? To yourself? To your team? To your customers?
If you don't, its time to find out how to navigate the expontentially increasing number of options available to you without hurting yourself or anyone else. The good news? It doesn't require Six Sigma or overpriced consultants telling you what time it is with your own watch.
Picture this. You're walking down a road, moving into a bright future, eyes on fire. And then, suddenly, standing there in front of you, is a fork -- a surprisingly bigger than-Godzilla fork. Whaddya do? How do you decide? Which way do you go?December 15, 2011
The Ten Most Popular Postings on This Blog in 2011
Here's a fascinating factoid:
The 10 most popular postings on this blog in 2011 all had numbers in their headline. Hmmm...
Seems like people are looking for lists and distilled down wisdom -- portals to understanding that somehow quantify the human need to know. Oh, and compilations of quotes.
So here you go, Heart of Innovation's TOP TEN postings as quantified on an scale of 1-10 by our favorite blog analytics service Postrank.
OUR TEN MOST POPULAR POSTINGS FROM 2011
December 14, 2011
The Best Practice of Love
A few weeks ago, my wife and I had a huge fight. A doozy. The Superbowl of all fights. If you're married -- or ever were -- I'm sure you've had at least one of these. Probably more.
You think you're right. They think they're right. You attack, they deflect. They attack, you deflect. You get hopeless and weird. They get hopeless and weird.
And both of you -- self-appointed judges in a supreme court of your own creation -- feel diminished, abused, blamed, hurt, ignored, dissed, damaged, and demonized.
The love? Out the window. And the window? Stuck in a half-closed position.
Whenever I'm embroiled in this kind of dynamic and (hallelujah!) manage to make it out the other side, I get majorly humbled -- all concepts of myself as a conscious, loving, evolved human being completely blown to smithereens.
And yet... no matter how painful the experience, something good always comes out of it. A phoenix rises from the ashes. Like the list below, for example -- my wishes for my dear wife, Evelyne, (the day after) and, by extension, you, me, and all the other 8 billion people on planet Earth.
THE BEST PRACTICE OF LOVE: My Wishes for You
1. Gratitude every day
2. Deep inner peace, especially during tough times
6. The courage to be yourself
7. Rest and renewal
8. The vision to see God in everyone
9. Letting go of self-righteousness
10. Simplicity and ease
11. The willingess to let go of worry and doubt
12. Allowing yourself to be nurtured
13. More fun
14. Plenty of time to do nothing
16. Heartfelt self-expression
17. Health and vitality
18. Moving through the tasks of your life as if you were a dancer
19. Relating to each person you talk to as if they were the only person on earth at that moment
20. Laughter from your core
21. Appreciation of your family
22. A "live and let live" mindset
23. Waking up each day with gladness
25. The experience of community
26. Full responsibility for your own projections
28. Honoring all of the teachers in your life, past and present
29. Slowing down, going deeper
30. The ability to order a very rich dessert in your favorite restaurant without enrolling someone to share it with you
31. A wi-fi connection whenever you want
32. The end of lower back pain
33. Living the St. Francis Prayer without making a big deal of it
34. Knowing you are loved
35. Good sushi within a five-mile radius
36. Appreciation of other people's "spiritual path" -- with absolutely no judgment
37. Foot massages
38. Fresh air
39. Understanding what Krishna meant when he said: "The world is an illusion, but you have to act as if it's real."
40. Random acts of kindness
41. Nights on the town
42. The ability to be alone, but not lonely
43. Accepting the aging process with dignity and delight
44. Fabulous dinners with friends
45. Nights in front of the fire
46. Having no regrets
47. Cranking up the music
48. Not judging your kids for texting or being on Facebook
49. Seeing the blessing in every challenge that comes your way
50. Loving yourself when you look in the mirror
51. Not having to look in the mirror to love yourself
52. New adventures
53. Endless learning
54. Giving up complaint
55. A dependable plumber
56. Snow angels!
57. Working smarter, not harder
58. Looking up at the stars
59. Never going to bed angry
60. Being happy for other people's successes
61. Realizing you are everything and nothing both at the same time
62. Unconditional love
63. Reframing aging as "becoming an elder" instead of "getting old"
64. Weekends in exotic places
65. Someone else to wash the dishes
66. Enjoying the poetry of Rumi, Kabir, and Hafiz
67. Did I mention foot massages?
68. The commitment to immerse in the projects that most fascinate you
69. Deep listening
70. Longer vacations
71. Reaching out to those less fortunate than you
72. Holding hands with someone you love
73. Taking on an impossible project -- and making it happen
74. Really good chocolate
75. Unforgettable celebrations
76. Going beyond your limiting assumptions
77. The discipline that comes from love, not duty
78. Spontaneous generosity
79. One remote for all your electronics
80. A hot bath on a cold night
81. Wonderful surprises
82. The laughter of children
83. Realizing you have enough
85. Understanding this quote: "When you're on the path it's a mile wide, when you're off it, it's razor thin."
86. Giving flowers to absolute strangers
87. A wardrobe you love
88. Making a clear distinction between longing and desire
89. No fear of death
90. Dancing around the living room for no particular reason
91. Howling at the moon
92. Knowing how to say "no" without being negative
93. Completing what you came here to do
94. Experiencing life as a beautiful play
95. Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies
96. Forgiving everyone who has ever wronged you
99. The peace that passes all understanding
100. Sweet watermelon on a summer day
Ever wonder what it really takes to innovate -- what specific, inner qualities a human being needs to be in touch with in order to actually create something new and wonderful in this world?
Well, we have, too, which is why we are asking you and thousands of other movers, shakers, and slackers to respond to our newly launched poll.
All you need is 5 minutes, use of one finger, and some curiosity. Click here to join in the fun. We'll publish the results on New Year's Day.December 13, 2011
Before Decision, Get a Vision!
2012 is right around the corner.
Have you envisioned
what you want to create yet?
Have you unplugged
from your short-term focus
to consider the long-term?
If not, what can you do, this week,
to imagine and conceive
bold new possibilities?
Who do you need to jam with?
What prep can you do?
Where will you meet?
When will you go offline?
And above all,
why is this important to you?
50 quotes on vision
20 ways to see the invisible
Shining Eyes and Open Hearts
Ben Zander is the most extraordinary speaker/presenter/catalyst I've ever had the good fortune to experience other than my teacher, Prem Rawat. I first heard Ben at HSM's World Business Forum, in NYC. He entranced 4,000 business people for two hours and ended his enchantment by getting everyone to sing Ode to Joy in German. Ben is a masterful conductor, not just of orchestras, but of the human spirit of what's possible every single minute of the day.December 10, 2011
It All Began With Balls
Most companies begin on a shoe-string -- under-funded, under the gun, and under the radar. The company I co-founded in 1986, Idea Champions, was no exception.
When my business partner and I began, we had almost nothing -- just an idea, some chutzpah, and a deep desire to succeed.
While we both were likable, smart, and skillful schmoozers, we had zippo in the way of a marketing plan.
Racking what was left of our over-caffeinated brains, it soon became abundantly clear that we needed some kind of showcase, some kind of "window to the world" -- a place to strut our entrepreneurial stuff and get in front of the people who were the likely buyers of our service...
Back in those days, this meant one thing -- renting a booth at the ASTD convention -- the annual meet market in the training and development field.
The thought of this made the two of us slightly nauseous, since we had "cased the joint" a year before and come away with three impressions:
1. We didn't have enough money to get in the door
2. We didn't have the right marketing materials
3. We probably should have gone into our father's business.
Clearly, we'd have to do something different if we were going to distinguish ourselves from the 600 other companies vying for the same customers.
Giving out slick brochures was out of the question. (We didn't have any). Giving out our client list was also out of the question. (You could count the number of our clients on one hand -- the hand of Vinny "Three Finger" Scalucci).
In a flash of entrepreneurial mania, it became obvious that we would need a lot of balls to pull this off. Yes, the kind you're thinking of, but also another kind -- juggling balls.
The AHA? We'd create an "anti-booth" and teach people how to juggle. Our booth would be a rest stop, a haven, a place for thousands of convention-weary people to recuperate from all the other booths with their endless supply of Hershey's kisses, business jargon, and fishbowls full of business cards.
OK. So we didn't have a marketing plan, but we did have inspiration. And even more than that, a very specific idea of how to get the attention of the marketplace.
Our plan was simple.
We'd bring a posse of our juggling-savvy friends and teach thousands of convention-goers how to do something they'd secretly wanted to learn for years -- juggle. No hard sell. No corporate speak. No used-car salesman smiles -- just the experience of having a breakthrough.
And our message would be delivered in 30 seconds or less.
Here's how it worked: As aspiring jugglers dropped their balls, we'd drop in a few well-timed comments to help them make the link between what it took to learn to juggle and what it took to innovate.
Our booth was wildly popular. People loved it. People loved us. And we always had a crowd.
But "having a crowd" doesn't necessarily translate into sales -- and sales is what we were after. Were we pumped? Yes. Were we optimistic? That, too. But still we had nothing to show for our efforts.
That is, until the afternoon of the third day.
That's when we spied the proverbial big fish walking in our direction. DIRECTOR OF TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT, AT&T his name tag screamed.
This was the moment -- the moment of truth.
The impeccably dressed Mr. Big approached. He stopped, tried to look through me, and spoke:
"What's this?" he asked.
"Um.... what does it look like?" I replied.
"Juggling?" he responded.
"That's right!" I said. "Would you like to learn?"
Ah.... the existential moment of truth! Dare he lay down his plastic bags of information to try something new? Dare he stop being in charge and become a student for a change? Dare he run the risk of failing.
He looked at me. I looked at him. Then he cleared his throat.
"I've been trying to learn to juggle for 25 years," he confessed, looking at his watch. "OK. Teach me... but... all I have is five minutes."
By the grace of the juggling Gods, we taught the man. In five minutes. His mind was blown. Borderline ecstatic, he reached into his wallet and pulled out a business card.
"I don't know what you guys do," he laughed, "but I know you're not a juggling company. Call me on Monday and let's talk."
We did. He took our call -- and spent the next 20 minutes telling us about his weekend juggling adventures. How he couldn't stop. How he taught his son. How he had a ton of fun.
Then he started grilling us about our work. Apparently, he liked what he heard, because the next thing we know he's inviting us to pilot our creative thinking training at AT&T.
Which we did.
The training was a big hit -- so much so, that our now juggling-savvy client invited us back two more times the next month to do it again, (just to make sure the glowing feedback wasn't a "false positive.")
Those sessions were also a success. So much so, that Mr. New-Juggler-After-25-Years-of-Frustration pulled the corporate trigger and licensed our training.
During the next three months we taught nine AT&T trainers how to facilitate it. Then, when Lucent split off from AT&T, we taught their trainers and enjoyed five years of great results and even greater passive income.
How did it all begin?
By doing something different. By going with our strengths. By differentiating ourselves from the competition. By translating theory into practice. By giving people an experience, not just words. By skillfully responding to a moment of truth. By having fun. And...by translating all of the above into a service that delivered on it's promise.
Balls got us started, but it was execution that sealed the deal.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
1. What risk are you willing to take to grow your business?
2. What strengths of yours do you need to leverage?
3. What moment of truth is fast approaching for you?
The above story is excerpted from my next book (WISDOM AT WORK: 40 Stories of Love, Learning and Letting Go from the Front Lines of Business).
If you are an agent or publisher who resonates with where I'm coming from, let's talk.
"If not you, who? If not now, when?"Be An Innovation Samurai!
If you expect to innovate in 2012, you will need to be more like a Samurai and less like a Slacker. Towards that end, here are the seven classic virtues of a Samurai. Food for thought... and action!
Give the Gift of Creativity
If you want to avoid the Holiday shopping hassle and are looking for some non-traditional gifts that will get your loved ones' creative juices flowing, you're in the right place.
This place. Here. Now.
All you need to do is click and order. Nancy (5th bio down) will do the rest.Free Your Genie Before 4:00 Today
Here is Idea Champions pre-Christmas, post Thanksgiving gift to you -- a two week free trial of our very cool, online Free the Genie app -- a simple, user-friendly, low-calorie, high bandwidth, fun, engaging, gluten-free way to stir your creative juices, tease out brilliance, generate breakthrough ideas, and jump start innovation.
The only thing it doesn't do, as far as we know, is make cappuccino or prove the existence of extraterrestrials. All you need is 7 minutes and a question that begins with "HOW CAN I?"December 07, 2011
The Movement With No Name December 06, 2011
The Healing Power of Music and Creativity December 05, 2011
Product Development Technique #14
Conventional wisdom has it that the best time to name a new product is after you create it. Unconventional wisdom has it the other way around: first you give your product a name, then you create it.
With this approach, the name -- instead of being the description of your creation -- becomes the catalyst for its existence.
The key is to come up with a compelling name -- one that intrigues, delights, and has embedded within it the kind of multiple meanings that stimulate you enough to decode them.
Let's use the topic of my book -- creativity -- as an example. If I was looking to invent new products to hawk in the back of the book, but had no clue what they were, I might start by generating some creativity-themed names -- and then work backwards.
CreativiTeas: Exotic teas that boost brainpower.
CreativiTees: T-shirts featuring photos of creative geniuses on the front and their inspiring quotes on the back.
CreativiTease: A strip poker card game in which players match famous quotes on creativity with the people who said them.
Invent some products that are sparked by these names:
Chakra Chip Cookies?
Cheeses of Nazareth?
USING THE TOOL:
1. Make up a compelling name for something -- even if you don't know what that "something" is. HINT: Humor, double entendre, and spelling variations are good catalysts.
2. Now that you have a compelling name for an imaginary product, brainstorm what this something might be.
December 04, 2011
The Musical Dynamics of Brainstorm Facilitation
A well-facilitated brainstorming session is like a symphony -- or, at the very least, a really good performance of any kind of music.
Embedded in its DNA are dynamics (i.e. "variation and contrast in force and intensity") -- the skillful modulation of elements that fully engages a person's attention.
The opposite? Muzak.
Next time you listen to a piece of music, be aware of dynamics -- the various ways in which the composition holds your interest (i.e. rhythm, pauses, crescendos, harmonies, solos, and multiple variations of soft and loud).
As a brainstorm facilitator, you need to do everything in your power to keep the session as dynamic as possible so participants remain fully engaged -- poised and ready to respond.
If the session is boring (or takes a "dip" after a brief period of engagement), your chances of succeeding decline exponentially.
Towards this end, think of yourself as a "conductor" -- the one who guides a group of individual contributors ("soloists") through an artful process that ensures a quality experience and a meaningful outcome.
If you want to learn more about how to do this, consider our virtual brainstorming training. It's engaging, affordable, customizable, and will only take you 60 minutes per week.
Conductor image TM VoiceActing Academy
(Used by permission)
Live brainstorm training
Buy Local, Bye Bye Wal-Mart
Thanks to Val Vadeboncoeur for the heads up