July 19, 2015
Brainstorming vs. Braincalming

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If you work in a big organization, small business, freelance, or eat cheese, there's a good chance you've participated in at least a few brainstorming sessions in your life. You've noodled, conjured, envisioned, ideated, piggybacked, and endured overly enthusiastic facilitators doing their facilitator thing. You may have even gotten some results. Hallelujah!

But even the best run brainstorming sessions are based on a questionable assumption -- that the origination of powerful, new ideas depend on the facilitated interaction between people.

You know, the "two heads are better than one" syndrome.

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I'd like to propose an alternative for the moment: "two heads are better than one sometimes."

For the moment, I invite you to consider the possibility that the origination of great, new ideas doesn't take place in the storm, but in the calm before the storm... or the calm after the storm... or sometimes, even in the eye of the storm itself.

Every wonder why so many people get their best ideas during "down time" -- the time just before they go to sleep... or just after waking... or in dreams... or in the shower... or in the car on the way home from work?

Those aren't brainstorming sessions, folks. Those are braincalming sessions. Incubation time.

Those are time outs for the hyperactive child genius within us who is always on the go. Methinks, in today's over-caffeinated, late-for-a-very-important-date business world, we have become addicted to the storm.

"Look busy," is the mantra, not "look deeply."

We want high winds. We want lightning. We want proof that something is happening, even if the proof turns out to be nothing more than sound and fury. High winds do not last all morning. Sometimes the storm has to stop.

That's why some of your co-workers like to show up early at the office before anyone else has arrived. For many of us, that's the only time we have to think.

"The best thinking has been done in solitude," said Thomas Edison. "The worst has been done in turmoil."

I'm not suggesting that you stop brainstorming (um... that's 20% of our business). All I'm suggesting is you balance it out with some braincalming. The combination of the two can be very, very powerful.

HERE'S A FEW WAYS TO GET STARTED:

1. In the middle of your next brainstorming, session, restate the challenge -- then ask everyone to sit, in silence, for five minutes, and write down whatever ideas come to mind. (Be ready for the inevitable joking that will immediately follow your request). Then, after five minutes are up, go "round robin" and ask everyone to state their most compelling idea.

2. Ask each member of your team to think about a specific business-related challenge before they go to bed tonight and write down their ideas when they wake up. Then, gather your team together for a morning coffee and see what you've got.

3. Conduct your next brainstorming session in total silence. Begin by having the brainstorming challenge written on a big flip chart before people enter the room. Then, after some initial schmoozing, explain the "silence ground rule" and the process: People will write their ideas on post-its or flip charts. Their co-workers, also in silence, will read what gets posted and piggyback. Nobody talks.

It's your decision, at the end of the idea generating time, if you want the debrief to be spoken -- or if you want people to come back the next day for a verbal debrief.

"Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of the gods." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Unsolicited praise from a recent client

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:23 PM | Comments (5)

July 18, 2015
Mojo, Marshall Goldsmith, Face the Music, and the Blues

Let me know if your organization needs a mojo upgrade. Face the Music (a corporate blues band I co-founded in 1999) is up to the task -- a fun, empowering, participatory teambuilding event for conferences, retreats, or any business function wanting to do something different.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:57 PM | Comments (0)

July 17, 2015
A Creative Tip from Einstein

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One way to do so
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We talk our walk
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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:30 PM | Comments (0)

50 Rules of Innovation

Nice slideshow. Other than the word "rules" in the title, this is an inspiring guide to what aspiring innovators need to be mindful of.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:34 AM | Comments (0)

July 16, 2015
Want to Move to Woodstock, NY?

Thinking of moving to Woodstock, NY? Looking for a great place to rent? Voila! We are renting the Blue Pearl Guest Cottage on our land, starting this November. Interested? Enter your email address in the comments box below and I will get back to you with details.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:37 PM | Comments (0)

July 12, 2015
Sing For the Silenced: July 19th!

Guest post by singer, songwriter, and social activist, Marc Black.

Can you imagine somebody ruining your land, bringing disease to your home, and then offering you money in exchange for your silence? When we heard about that happening from hydro-fracking, we decided to sing for the silenced. And so we have.

Sing for the Silenced
is an artist movement that's out to stop Big Gas and Big Oil from first damaging the environment by fracking and then silencing their victims.

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This is one way the dark truth about fracking has remained hidden from so many for so long. Corporate interests have embraced a policy of buying silence from folks who's land and health have been compromised by this process. While non-disclosure "agreements" are widely accepted as legal in our system, we believe this is not the case when the public's need to know is interfered with.

Our purpose is to focus artists on this issue, to bring sound to this silence and light to this darkness. And we've already begun

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About a year ago, we recorded a show at the wonderful Maverick Concert Hall in Woodstock, NY. The show featured a song entitled Sing for the Silenced and many other tunes on environmental themes by John Sebastian, Happy Traum, Peter Schickele, and myself. This CD (with two studio cuts on the end) is now available. We invite you to purchase it.

And now... the Sing for the Silenced Bus Tour, Concert. and Giant Puppet Show

On July 19, a one day, educational bus tour and car caravan will travel to some of the areas in Pennsylvania that have been ardest hit by the scourge of fracking and the silencing that has followed. And you're invited!

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The bus will make a few stops in New Jersey and another at Plymouth Meeting Mall outside of Philadelphia on the way to Montrose, PA. Please keep in mind that you are more than welcome to drive and meet us in Montrose at noon for the tour or three for the concert. (Details at SingForTheSilenced.org).

Once we've concluded the two-hour tour of fracking sites, guided by Vera Scroggins, we will begin a family friendly program of great musical performers, speakers, food, and a giant puppet show.

The car caravan and the concert are both free. The only charge is for a seat on the bus (to help pay for the charter). For information about the campaign and the tour, log onto SingForTheSilenced.org.

Beside growing awareness about the horror of these nondisclosure agreements, let's sing for the victims of this silencing and let them know that we can still hear them!

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:45 PM | Comments (0)

July 03, 2015
The Beauty of a Wandering Mind

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Do you have a tendency to zone out? Daydream? Follow the yellow brick road? Well, your day has come.

Instead of having to defend yourself from the army of people demanding you become more focused every second of the day, now you have some vital research, noted by the New York Times, to build a case for your wandering mind.

Explains, Dr. Jonathan Schooler, of UCLA:

"For creativity, you need your mind to wander, but you also need to be able to notice that your mind is wandering and catch the idea when you have it. If Archimedes had come up with a solution in the bathtub, but didn't notice he'd had the idea, what good would it have done him?"

Idea Champions

Facilitated wandering
Wanderlust

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:47 AM | Comments (1)

July 02, 2015
The Selective Attention Test

Related story
Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:14 AM | Comments (0)

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