The True Definition of Comedy
October 25, 2012
The Kindness-At-Work Manifesto
This just in! We're here for just a little while. No one gets out of here alive. Not even Donald Trump. So while you're here, remember to be kind and go beyond judgment, blame, and impatience -- especially when things start getting stressed out. Like on-the-job.
Here's my inspired rant on the subject, just published in The Huffington Post.Super Cool TED Remix
Edutainment to the max! Go full screen. Turn up the volume.October 24, 2012
100 Awesome Quotes on What It Really Takes to Innovate
October 22, 2012
What You Can Do This Month to Jump Start a Culture of Innovation
Trying to create a culture of innovation is a daunting task for even the most committed organization.
Cultures take decades to form. Changing them is not an overnight phenomenon, no matter how many outside consultants you've gotten on the case. You might as well try to end world hunger or wipe out Aids overnight. It's gonna take a while.
But if you and your colleagues are game, culture change is possible. The question, of course, is where to begin?
Starting is always the hardest part. And, in the absence of clarity about where to start, procrastination creeps in -- and nothing changes.
OK. Enough preamble. Here are five ways to get started. Pick one or all five -- and don't forget to enjoy the process.
1. Name the Beast: If you want to change something, you will need to begin by understanding the current reality of that which you attempting to change. Make sense?
If you're getting into a new market, for example, you'd expect to do some competitive intelligence gathering, right? And if you've decided to parachute into Iran, it would make sense to do some diligence, before hand, no?
Same with the effort to foster a culture of innovation.
Get closer to the problem. Talk to people. Survey your workforce. Get everyone talking -- not just the C-Suite folks, but the people in the mail room, too.
Get off of the generic, politically correct stand that may be ruling the day and get down to the bones.
Then, when you make your case, more formally, you'll have some meaningful ground to stand on -- and the people listening will listen deeper than if you merely showed up one day with a few powerpoint slides, an anecdote from Google, and your newly expressed burning passion for the cause.
2. Set the Expectation: You get what you expect. That's the deal. Psychology experiment after psychology experiment has borne this out again and again.
You need a very strong intention to do this work and then you need to communicate it in a way that is compelling.
Your workforce needs to understand this is not the job of senior leadership, or HR, or R&D. It's everyone's job. Only when a critical mass of people in your organization embraces this effort will anything substantial happen.
If not, you will be wasting your breath -- and their time.
3. Define Innovation: Google "innovation" and you'll find thousands of definitions.
What do you mean by "innovation?" What is your definition? How do you want people thinking about it?
Is it incremental innovation? Disruptive innovation? Product innovation? Process innovation? Or is the whole thing really just a secret code for "cost cutting?"
Before anything significant can happen, you'll need to get aligned with your senior team about what, precisely, you mean by innovation -- and then communicate that, with some passion, to the workforce.
4. Frame the Challenges: OK. Let's say you want a sea change of innovation within your organization. Great. But in what specific domains? What are the specific challenges people can get their arms around and actually focus on?
As Charles F. Kettering once said, "A problem well-defined, is a problem half solved."
Towards that end, you and your team will need to dive in and start framing the problem. Not vaguely. Not generically. Very specifically. The clearer you are about communicating the domains in which you are asking people to innovate, the more results will show up.
The framing of the challenge, however, is not just your job. You'll need to invite others to get into the act.
If you've done your "name the beast" effort (see #1), this should be relatively easy.
5. Acknowledge What's Already Working: Lots of organizations who dive into the deep end of "culture change" have a tendency to get a sudden case of amnesia when it comes to their corporate history.
Inspired by the promise of the new, they forget to acknowledge the old -- paying precious little attention to what's already working well.
There are a ton of best practices already going on in your organization. There are many inspired "pockets of creativity" where turned-on-teams are doing exactly what they need to do to succeed.
The only thing is: very few people in the company know about this.
Everyone is so enmeshed in their own silos, that they have no clue what innovation-friendly behaviors are alive and well just down the hall -- behaviors they can learn from, adapt, and get rolling within their own spheres of influence.
Building on past successes will not only encourage people, it will guide their journey forward in ways that are empowering, uplifting, and real. And while you're at it, don't forget to routinely acknowledge current successes, as well -- the good things that happened today.
Thanks to Tim Gallwey for his refinement of #5.October 20, 2012
100 Simple Ways to Be More Creative On the Job
Here's the deal:
You are creative.
Really. I mean it.
Maybe you know it.
Maybe you don't know it.
But the fact remains:
you are creative.
Unfortunately, your creativity
show up on the job.
tend to subvert creativity
and make it hard to access.
If this sounds familiar,
my newest article in
The Huffington Post
will be useful to you. Enjoy!
REAL ROI: Return on Imagination!
If you are a champion of innovation, chances are good that you've encountered the ROI beast more than a few times -- bottom line-oriented senior leaders looking at you cross-eyed and questioning the value of your efforts. Stop the madness! Change the game! Send them this slide show today!
The Six Sides of the So-Called Box
Unless you've been in a coma for the past 20 years, I'm sure you're familiar with the phrase "get out of the box." It's everywhere. Whole industries have sprung up around it, including mine.
No one can deny that getting out of the box is a good thing to do. Seems like a no-brainer, eh? Kind of like helping little old ladies cross the street. Or tearing down the Berlin Wall.
But before you start planning your heroic escape, answer me this:
What the heck is the box, anyway?
What is this so-called thing that keeps us so contained, confined, caged, trapped, claustrophobic, and otherwise unable to succeed?
Let's start with the basics. A box has six sides, including the top and the bottom.
If we can understand what these six sides are, we'll know what we're dealing with -- and this knowledge will improve our chances of getting out. Or, as Fritz Perls once said, "Awareness cures."
Let us proceed...
1. FEAR: If you want to raise the odds of being trapped in a box for the rest of your life, all you need to do is increase the amount of fear you feel.
Fear inhibits. Fear paralyzes. Fear subverts action. Indeed, when fear rules the day, even reacting is difficult. Fear not only puts us in the box, it makes it almost impossible to get out the box.
Fear of what?
Fear of judgment. Fear of failure. Fear of change. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being revealed to be an impostor. Fear of this. Fear of that. And fear of the other thing, too.
Do you think it's an accident that Peter Drucker devoted his entire life to driving fear out of the workplace? Or course not.
Fear sucks. And precisely what it sucks is the life right out of you. There is no box without fear. Get rid of fear and you get rid of the box.
2. POWERLESSNESS: Powerlessness is the state of mind in which people think they have no choice -- that they are victims of circumstance, that the act of attempting anything new is futile.
It's why Dilbert has become the patron saint of most cubicle dwellers.
Some in-the-box people have dwelled in the state of powerlessness for their entire life, going all the way back to childhood, overpowered (or disempowered) by parents, schools, and who knows what else.
If you work in a corporation, you've seen this powerlessness paradigm in spades -- as the "powers-that-be" don't always take kindly to the ideas, input, and grumblings of the "rank and file."
If you're feeling powerless, not only are you in the box, it's highly unlikely that you'll be able to muster the energy, intention, or urgency to get out of it.
3. ISOLATION: Boxes are usually small and confining. Rarely is there room for more than one person. Isolation is the result. There's no one to talk to, no one to bounce ideas off of, no one to collaborate with.
Curiously, solitary confinement is the biggest punishment our society doles out -- second only to the death sentence. Being cut off from the tribe has been a very effective "behavior modification" technique for centuries.
When you're in the box, that's exactly what's happening.
And while your isolation may give you a momentary feeling of much-needed privacy, safety, and relief from the judgment of others, it's fool's gold. Sitting in the dark, being completely on your own, vision obscured -- all reduce your chances of getting out.
4. ASSUMPTIONS: Assumptions are the guesses we make based on our subjective interpretation of reality. They are short cuts. Lines drawn in the sand.
We end up taking things for granted because we are either too lazy to get down to the root of things or too entranced by our own beliefs to consider an alternative.
Ultimately, it is our assumptions that shape our world. The world is the screen and we are the projector, seeing only what we project -- which is all too often merely a function of the assumptions we've made.
As one wise pundit once put it, "When a pickpocket meets a saint, all he sees our pockets."
Bottom line, we see what we are primed to see. Change your assumptions and you change the world -- starting with your own.
5. MENTAL CLUTTER:
If you find yourself in the box, it would be fair to say that the box contains you. But what do you contain?
If you are like most people in today's over-caffeinated, twitterfied, fast food, information overloaded world the answer is: too much.
With the amount of information doubling every few years, most of us have way too much on our minds. Too much to do and not enough time.
We have no time for musing. No time for pondering. No time for reflecting. No time for contemplating, incubating, or making new connections -- behaviors that are essential to true out-of-the-box thinking.
The result? Not a good one.
We glom onto the first seemingly "right idea" that comes our way -- or else desperately try to declutter our minds with an endless series of mindless distractions that only increase the amount of clutter we need to process. Ouch.
6. NARROW MINDEDNESS:
When you're in a box, it's hard to see. Sight lines are limited. Vision is obscured. We become shortsighted. Our vision conforms to that which confines it. We become, soon enough, narrow-minded.
I'm sure you know a few people like this. Their ability to see beyond their immediate surroundings has become disabled.
When this kind of phenomenon becomes institutionalized, we end up with a bad case of "next quarter syndrome" -- especially in organizations ruled by the need to constantly please profit-seeking shareholders.
Few people are thinking six months out. Few are thinking 12 months out. And almost no one is thinking five years out. Everyone is trapped by the short-term.
What we call "focus" becomes a euphemism for tunnel vision -- just another form of narrow-mindedness that makes getting out of the box about as likely as my credit card company rescinding their usurious late payment fees.
OK. I hope I've not depressed you. That's not my purpose. Neither is it my purpose to obsess about the "problem." But until we know what we're really dealing with, all this hot talk about "getting out of the box" is just hype and a complete waste of time.Create 'Til You're Blue in the Face
October 13, 2012
56 Reasons Why Most Corporate Innovation Initiatives Fail
of the possible
detours along the way.
article of mine
(And yes, it's still possible)
Social Media Without Electricity
October 10, 2012
The Cult of Monetization
This just in
My rant on
how not everything
needs to be monetized!
Yes, it is possible
for a blog
to just be a blog,
not a cash cow
not a profit center,
not an income stream
not a money maker,
not Groucho's cigar.
Just a blog.
You will not be billed
for reading this
The Nancy Factor
See the picture to your left? Of course you do. That's Nancy Seroka, Idea Champions' Director of Operations, World Class Administrator, and Queen of Client Relations.
Without Nancy, there would be no Idea Champions. Nancy is the glue, the DNA of Details, the one who minds the store while the rest of us are on the road, in the clouds, or otherwise engaged.
For the past 13 years, Nancy has been juggling hundreds of Idea Champions projects with style, class, and heroic effort. The fact that she is still somewhat sane astounds me.
Sometimes, I regret to say, I am blind to how much value Nancy adds to our business. You see, she does what she does with so much precision and consistency that I often don't even notice it.
I am not alone in this regard. Indeed, I am betting that a lot of you reading this rant also have a Nancy in your business life -- someone who keep things together, supports you way beyond the call of duty, and makes magic happen while you're consumed with the details of your business life.
You have come to expect this kind of extraordinary contribution from others. You think it's "their job" -- and barely notice. Not a good idea.
Hey, you don't notice the air, either, but just imagine if it wasn't there.
And so, it is with great respect for Nancy -- and all that she is and all that she does -- that I implore you to pause for a moment and honor all of the Nancies in your life -- all of the people "behind the scenes" who are, day-by-day, minute-by-minute, helping you grow your business.
I'm not talking about the token giving of roses on "Secretary's Day". No.
I'm talking about being far more present and acknowledging of all the people who support you, without whom you would be howling at the moon, walking in circles, or looking for a job.
So, thank you Nancy. You are an inspiration and a life saver.
And should I forget, tomorrow... next week ... next month ... or next year to acknowledge you for all you are and all you do, I humbly ask your forgiveness.October 06, 2012
How to Create an Idea Factory
Want to see your BIG IDEAS manifest more than they do? Check out my most recent article in the Huffington Post. The solution has less to do with your ideas than it does your support team.October 03, 2012
14 Ways to Go Beyond the Email Blues
Get too many emails?
Sick and tired
of sorting through them?
Want to jump start
an email etiquette revolution?
Here's your starter kit --
my email liberation rant
in the Huffington Post.
(Yes, you can forward it to others and still honor what it's all about).
October 02, 2012
MORE HUFF POST GOODIES OF MINE
Brilliance is a Volume Business
By the way, not every composition of Mozart's was a winner. Even Einstein had some bogus theories. And when Michelangelo was asked how he made the David, he simply replied "I got rid of everything that wasn't."