Go Beyond Your Pet Ideas!
If your company runs brainstorming sessions, know this: too many of them have become veiled opportunities for people to trot out their pet ideas.
Because everyone is so ridiculously busy these days and real listening is at a premium, people use brainstorming sessions as a way to foist their pre-existing ideas on others.
And while this sometimes leads to results, it doesn't make best use of the opportunity a brainstorm session provides. The way around this phenomenon?
Give people a chance to express their pre-existing ideas at the beginning of a session. Clear the decks. Then use the rest of the time to explore the unknown. Woof! Woof!January 30, 2012
The Art and Science of Losing Count
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
-- Albert Einstein
If you have even the slightest respect for the wild-haired father of modern physics, consider this: Your organization's fascination with metrics is often nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to quantify the unquantifiable -- a compulsive effort to validate that which you and everyone else already know to be true.
I'm not suggesting you abandon metrics (I track, daily, how may unique visitors make it to my website) -- all I'm saying is not everything needs to be measured, at least not all of the time.
The core of your company's "innovation process" is actually less about mind, and more about heart. (And if you're about to ask me how I know that, please read the Einstein quote one more time).January 29, 2012
Creative Thinking Technique #3
THE EMBEDDED REPORTER
There is a state of mind psychologists have dubbed the hypnopompic state that is a rich source of inspiration and fresh ideas.
In this state, most often associated with the first few minutes upon waking, the analytical mind is at bay and a fuzzier logic prevails.
It is as if a portal opens between worlds and we gain greater access to the subconscious part of mind where brilliance, insight, and expanded perception often reside.
Explained Victor Hugo, "There is visible labor, and there is an invisible labor."
In the hypnopompic state, invisible labor rules the day.
1. When you wake up, don't get out of bed.
2. Just lay there.
3. Don't speak. Don't think. Don't move.
4. Let dreams, images, and feelings come to you.
5. Surf them. Then write them down.
Ten Simple Mindset Shifts for 2012
This is a marvelous, lucid, well-written blog post by Tom Asacker on ten of the fundamental mindset changes that you and your company will need to honor if you expect to thrive during these radically changing times.
HINT: Your marketing efforts need to be less about branding and more about bonding.
Who, on your team, do you need to meet with to explore Tom's key points? And when will you do it?Creative Thinking Technique #2
Many great breakthroughs have come in dreams.
Rene Descartes got the concept for the Scientific Method in a dream. Elias Howe came up with the final design for the lock stitch sewing machine in a dream. August Kekule arrived at the formulation of the Benzene molecule in a dream.
In the dream state, our subconscious mind arrives at solutions that our conscious mind is unlikely to discover no matter much it obsesses.
That's why Thomas Edison and Salvadore Dali used to take naps during the day.
Click the link below for a simple technique you can use to help remember your dreams...
1. Before you go to sleep tonight, bring to mind a question, challenge or opportunity you've been struggling with
2. As you fall asleep, stay focused on it
3. When you awake, write down your dream even if the dream makes no sense to you
4. Reflect on each element of the dream and see if you can make any connections to the project you are noodling on.January 26, 2012
Creative Thinking Technique #1
This is the first in a series of 35 postings that describe simple techniques you can use to liberate your innate creativity.
1. WRITE ON!
Buddha, as the story goes, once said that human beings have 2,000 thoughts per second -- and that he had slowed his mind enough to be able to identify the last two.
Few of us are in Buddha's league. Our thoughts are often a blur, flying in under the radar -- great ideas mixed with odd bits about shoe sales, sex, and salad dressing.
Like unremembered dreams, our ideas come and go, having little or no effect on our lives. That's why you need a way to track and capture them. At the very least, the effort will give you the option of remembering them.
Cavemen recorded their ideas on the walls of their cave. You also need a way.
1. Keep an idea notebook with you at all times
2. When an inspired idea comes to you, write it down
3. At the end of the day (or week), review your notebook, circling the ideas that sing to you
4. Look for connections between ideas and see if you can synthesize something new from their interplay.January 25, 2012
The Rock and a Hard Place Exercise
Here's a fun 5-minute exercise -- a good icebreaker or brainstorm session starter.
Make a list of every bad thing that will happen to you and your business if you don't figure out how to free yourself from being stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Then take another five minutes and make a second list of everything you can do to prevent the stuff you just wrote down on your first list from happening. Go!January 21, 2012
Everything Begins as an Idea
Everything begins as an idea.
Whether you're in business, school, jail, or debt, that's how it all gets rolling. First there's the idea, then there's the manifestation of the idea -- assuming, of course, that the person with the idea has their act together.
If you have any doubt, take a look around you.
Everything you see began as an idea: The microchip, the chocolate chip, the fishing net, the internet, the company you work for, and the company you keep. All of it. Everything. Even the Universe, some say, began as an idea in the mind of the Creator.
Well then, if it all begins with an idea, where in the world do ideas come from?
There are two schools of thought on this subject.
The first ascribes the origin of ideas to the efforts of inspired individuals who, through a series of spontaneously occurring or purposeful mental processes, arrive at a useful new possibility.
The second school ascribes the appearance of ideas to a transcendent force, a.k.a. the "Collective Unconscious," the "Platonic Realm," the "Muse," or the "Mind of God."
According to this perspective, ideas are not created, but already exist, becoming accessible to human beings who have tuned themselves enough to be able to receive them.
The first approach is usually considered Western, with a strong bias towards thinking. It is best summarized by Rene Descartes' "I think therefore I am" maxim.
Most business people subscribe to this approach, as it gives great weight to the power of the mind.
The second approach is usually considered Eastern, with a strong bias towards feeling. It is best summarized by the opposite of the Cartesian view: "I am therefore, I think."
Most artists and creative types are associated with this approach, with its focus on intuitive knowing -- a way of understanding that does not lend itself to analysis and quantification.
Both approaches are valid. Both are effective. And both are used at different times by all of us, depending on our mood, circumstances, and conditioning.
No matter what our preferred approach, however, the challenge remains the same for all of us: how to honor, develop and manifest our ideas.
This is a challenge made increasingly more difficult these days by the fact that, somehow, ideas have gotten a bad rap.
If you have one (and most of us do), chances are good you usually apologize before talking about it (if you talk about it at all) with some variation of "Uh... er... um... it's just an idea."
Most of us, in fact, have made a habit of discounting ideas -- in ourselves and in others. "A dime a dozen" is all we think they're worth.
And so the prophecy comes true.
Our ideas are diminished, not because they are worthless, but because we do not know how to elicit their value. We do not understand how to cultivate them.
Afraid we will be judged, or worse, fail -- we toss them out long before their time. Like Jack's mother, of Beanstalk fame, we throw our magic beans out the window, doubting they had any real value in the first place.
But they do. Jack's did. And so do yours. At least they might have value. That is, if you are willing to go on the journey to find out.
Which bring us to the moment of truth. The moment of choice. Now.
Ideas -- no matter how exalted they might be, almost always assume a need, desire or intention on the part of the originator.
A person must care enough about something in order to get an idea about it. The bigger one's need, desire, or intention, the greater the likelihood that ideas will make their appearance.
And so, aspiring innovator, I ask you this:
What is your need, desire, or intention? What is moving you? What is calling you? What do you want to create?
What is your idea -- that 'thing' you want to manifest in this world -- even if seems like a long shot?
Excerpted from Awake at the WheelThe Wisdom of Bruce Lee
-- Bruce Lee
What market change does your business need to adapt to?PREMier PREMotion Beach Boy Style January 16, 2012
How to Conduct a Virtual Meeting
If the number of the virtual meetings you're attending is going up, but the quality is going down, it's time to reconsider your approach.
Here's a useful article from Nick Morgan, of the Harvard Business Review, on how to maximize the effectiveness of virtual meetings.
Common sense? Yes. But common sense, these days, is uncommon. Nick's 5-point plan elaborates on the following:
1. Recognize virtual meetings are sub-optimal and plan accordingly
2. Plan the virtual meeting in 10-minute increments
3. Pause regularly for group input
4. Label your emotions and ask others to do the same
5. Don't neglect the small talk, but use video
Want to Innovate? Start Here! January 12, 2012
If You Are Planning to Ask an Innovation Consultant for Help
If someone from your company's leadership team asks you to locate an outside consultant to help your organization establish a culture of innovation, STOP for a moment and, with all due respect, ask that person to answer the following questions.
If they answer "NO" to any of them, do not accept the assignment.
Really. I mean it. If you're afraid to decline the assignment, there's no hope for you, your senior team, or your organization. Zero.
If you say YES without understanding the current reality of the senior team, you will only be going on a wild goose chase -- wasting your time, theirs, and the TBD consulting company's who will be asked to generate a hefty proposal that none of your senior leaders will be ready, willing, or able to respond to.
QUESTIONS TO ASK SENIOR LEADERS BEFORE LOOKING FOR AN OUTSIDE INNOVATION CONSULTANT
1. Do you have a clear, compelling vision of our organization's future? If not, are you willing to create one?
2. Are you personally committed to fostering a culture of innovation? Are other senior leaders on the same page with you? If not, are they willing to make the effort to do so?
3. Are senior leaders willing to walk the talk -- modeling the kind of innovation-friendly behaviors they want to see others manifesting on the job?
4. Are you willing to challenge the status quo?
5. Are you open to receiving new ideas from the workforce -- and are you willing to establish a process that will make it easy for them to do so?
6. Are you willing to listen more deeply to what the workforce is thinking and feeling?
7. Are you committed to establishing and supporting an Innovation Council that will drive the process to raise the bar for innovation?
8. Are you willing to invest in a long-term approach, rather than treating the effort as a flavor-of-the-year initiative?
9. Are you willing to go beyond "command and control", empower people, and push decision making further down the food chain?
10. Are you open to guidance and coaching from an outside company who can support you all of the above?
What other questions would you add to the list?
The Professor and the Jar
A college professor stood before his philosophy class at the start of a new semester. Silently, he picked up a very large jar and filled it with golf balls. Then he asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly, pebbles settling into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full.
They agreed that it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students again responded with a resounding "yes."
The professor then produced two beers from under the table and poured them into the jar, filling the empty spaces between the sand. The students laughed.
"Now," said the professor. "I want you to understand that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things -- your family, health, friends, and feeling of well-being. If everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full."
"The pebbles are the other things that matter -- your job, your house, your accomplishments etc. The sand is everything else -- the small stuff."
"If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there's no room left for the golf balls or pebbles. The same holds true for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you'll never have room for the things that are really important to you."
"Pay attention to the things that are essential to your happiness. Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Smell the flowers. Enjoy the beauty of existence. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first -- the things that really matter. The rest is just sand."
One of the students then raised her hand and asked what the beer represented.
The professor smiled, "I'm glad you asked."
"The beer shows you that, no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of beers with a friend."Have Innovation Challenge Will Travel
Because I post a lot on this blog (and because I was recently voted the #1 innovation blogger in the world), many people think all I do is write.
My day job is being the President and Chief Creativity Officer of Idea Champions, a highly regarded consulting and training company, founded in 1987.
But hey, don't take my word for it. Take a look at what our clients have to say about the value of our work.
Intrigued? Interested in raising the bar for innovation in your organization? Drink coffee? Eat cheese? Breathe? If so, click here to get the ball rolling.January 10, 2012
Get Out of the Box!
What can you do, this week, to help your team get out of the box?January 07, 2012
Go Beyond the Business Blues
For years I was trying to figure out what all my clients had in common. Opposable thumbs? Yes. The Isle of Langerhans. That, too. Big, fat opinions about everything. For sure.
But even more than the aforementioned stuff in the preceding paragraph which you just read and probably haven't yet forgotten even though your short-term memory is getting shorter by the nanosecond and you're probably wondering, by now, why I'm rambling on and on when most blog postings are supposed to be short and sweet, it dawned on me one fine day as I was scraping marinara sauce off my shirt that the main thing all my clients had in common was the blues.
Yes, indeed. The blues. The same blues Muddy Waters had. And Robert Johnson. And BB King. Those blues.
Unlike the blues greats, however, my clients didn't have a way to express their blues. And, in the absence of this opportunity, their God given right to get right was lost.
But no more, brothers and sisters! No more!
Now, even the most buttoned down, white collared, bow-tied creators of spreadsheets at midnight have a chance to get those business blues off their chest and move towards a better future -- not to mention have fun, collaborate, and learn what it takes to innovate on the fly.
Ladies and gentlemen, without any further ado, allow me to introduce you to the world's first business blues band -- Face the Music!.
PS: Should you decide to contact them, be sure to mention that it was Idea Champions who sent you. (We give 5% of our referral fees to TPRF, one of the most well-run and inspired humanitarian organizations in the world).
The Six Sigma Blues
My blues encounter at Pfizer
The Email Blues
The Gotta Have a Process Blues
Wrapper of the Year!
If you have to pee, pee now. Pee before watching this video. I take no responsibility for your wardrobe, dry cleaning bills, or anti-social behavior. Consider yourself forewarned.January 05, 2012
21 Awesome Quotes on Intuition
"The only real valuable thing is intuition." - Albert Einstein
"Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do." - Benjamin Spock
"Systems die; instincts remain." - Oliver Wendell Holmes
"It is through science that we prove, but through intuition that we discover." - Henri Poincare
"Intuition becomes increasingly valuable in the new information society precisely because there is so much data." - John Naisbitt
"A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something." - Frank Capra
"It is always with excitement that I wake up in the morning wondering what my intuition will toss up to me, like gifts from the sea. I work with it and rely on it. It's my partner." - Jonas Salk
"All human knowledge thus begins with intuitions, proceeds thence to concepts, and ends with ideas." - Immanuel Kant
"Trust your own instinct. Your mistakes might as well be your own, instead of someone else's. - Billy Wilder
"Your time is limited, don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinion drown your own inner voice. Everything else is secondary." - Steve Jobs
"The more and more each is impelled by that which is intuitive, or the relying upon the soul force within, the greater, the farther, the deeper, the broader, the more constructive may be the result." - Edgar Cayce
"I feel there are two people inside me -- me and my intuition. If I go along against her, she'll screw me every time, and if I follow her, we get along quite nicely." - Kim Basinger
"Intuition is the supra-logic that cuts out all the routine processes of thought and leaps straight from the problem to the answer." - Robert Graves
"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant
and has forgotten the gift." - Albert Einstein
"You must train your intuition. You must trust the small voice inside which tells you exactly what to say, what to decide." - Ingrid Bergman
"The power of intuitive understanding will protect you from harm until the end of your days." - Lao Tzu
"People who lean on logic and philosophy and rational exposition end by starving the best part of the mind." - William Butler Yeats
"Conclusions arrived at through reasoning have very little or no influence in altering the course of our lives."- Carlos Casteneda
"Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next." - Jonas Salk
"Trust your hunches. They're usually based on facts filed away
just below the conscious level." - Dr. Joyce Brothers
"Follow your instincts. That's where true wisdom manifests itself."
- Oprah Winfrey
The One For Whom You Create
Poets, lose your pens,
Painters, toss your brushes
in the sea,
Musicians, give your instruments
away, then go for a long walk.
When you're done, keep walking,
notice the beauty all around you.
Don't try to remember
a single thing, breathe.
This holy moment is your poetry,
your art, your song.
Do not concern yourself with giving it form.
The One for whom you create
what you just didn't do.
Top Innovation Bloggers of 2011
Well, I've got good news and great news to share with you.
Now the great news: 2012 is going to be an awesome year for you -- full of happiness, abundance, creativity, collaboration, community, fun, gratitude and, yes, innovation. That is, if you want it to be.
I'd like to take this moment to thank all of you who voted for me. (And by the way, for those of you who think that all I do is write about innovation, please know that this is just a sideline).
My real work is in the trenches...
I'd also like to acknowledge some amazing people who have inspired and encouraged me throughout the years.
These include Evelyne Pouget, Tim Gallwey, Prentiss Uchida, Seth Godin, Gary Hamel, Ben Zander, Roger van Oech, Guy Kawasaki, Erika Andersen, Rumi, Hafiz, Kabir, Morihei Ueshiba, the entire Idea Champions team, Joe and Eddie, Ron Brent, Phyllis Rosen, Joan Apter and, most of all, Prem Rawat (aka Maharaji).
I first heard about Prem Rawat when he was 13 (and I was 24). At that very young age, he came to America (from India) to bring a very powerful message of peace -- a message he doesn't just talk about, but helps people experience for themselves.
He is not the first to talk about this message. Nor will he be the last. But he is here and now -- helping thousands of people, from all walks of life, go beyond ideas to find their way to the source of peace within themselves.
His dedication, brilliance, love, and endless commitment to innovating is a great source of inspiration to me.
January 01, 2012
How to Foster a Culture of Innovation
Looking for inspiration and guidance on how to make your company more conducive to innovation? Here's some food for thought and action -- Idea Champions' ten most popular postings on the subject.
HOW TO FOSTER A CULTURE OF INNOVATION
1. The Garden of Innovation
2. 50 Ways to Foster a Sustainable Culture of Innovation
3. 56 Reasons Why Most Innovation Initiatives Fail
4. Innovation: It's About Time
5. The Paradox of Innovation
6. The Art of Seeing the Invisible
7. The 100 Lamest Excuses for Not Innovating
8. Innovation Is An Inside Job
9. 41 Ways Business Leaders Can Foster a Culture of Innovation
10. The Four Currents of a Culture of Innovation