How to Foster a Creative and Sustainable 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
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 InnovationJuly 23, 2015
The Top 10 Reasons Why the Top 10 Reasons Don't Matter
1. Reason is highly over-rated.
2. If you need more data to prove your point, you'll never have enough data to prove your point.
3. Analysis paralysis.
4. You're going to follow your gut, anyway.
5. By the time you put your business case together, the market has passed you by.
6. "Not everything that counts can be counted; not everything that can be counted counts." - Albert Einstein
7. The scientific method came to Rene Descartes in a dream!
8. Most reasons are collected to prove to others what you have already decided to do.
9. "The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man." - G.B. Shaw
10. I am, therefore I think.July 19, 2015
Brainstorming vs. Braincalming
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.
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 EmersonJuly 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.July 17, 2015
A Creative Tip from Einstein
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.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.July 15, 2015
100 Lame Excuses for Not Innovating
Do you have a great idea you want to manifest, but... er... uh... um... just can't seem to get things rolling? Chances are good your reasons why are on the list below. No problem. Join the club. Without making yourself wrong, simply note the ones that show up the most for you, then try the simple "go beyond excuses" exercise at the end of the list. Hey, it's time to get unstuck...
1. I don't have the time.
2. I can't get the funding.
3. My boss will never go for it.
4. We're not in the kind of business likely to innovate.
5. I've got too much on my plate right now.
6. I won't be able to get it past legal.
7. I'll be punished if I fail.
8. I'm just not not the creative type.
9. I'm juggling way too many projects.
10. I'm too new around here.
11. I'm not good at presenting my ideas.
12. No one, besides me, cares about innovation.
13. There's too much bureaucracy here to get anything done.
14. Our customers aren't asking for it.
15. We're a risk averse culture.
16. We don't have an innovation process.
17. We don't have a culture of innovation.
18. They don't pay me enough to take on this kind of project.
19. My boss will get all the credit.
20. My career path will be jeopardized if this doesn't fly.
21. I've already got enough headaches.
22. I'm no good at office politics.
23. My home life will suffer.
24. I'm not disciplined enough.
25. It's an idea ahead of its time.
26. I won't be able to get enough resources.
27. I don't have enough information.
28. Someone will steal my idea.
29. It will take too long to get results.
30. We're in a down economy.
31. It will die in committee.
32. I'll be laughed out of town.
33. I won't be able to get the ear of senior leadership.
34. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
35. The concept is too disruptive.
36. I won't be able to get enough support.
37. I don't tolerate ambiguity all that well.
38. I'm not in a creative profession.
39. Now is not a good time to start a new project.
40. I don't have the right personality for this.
41. Our company is going through too many changes right now.
42. They won't give me any more time to work on the project.
43. If I succeed, too much will be expected of me.
44. Nothing ever changes around here.
45. Things are changing so fast, my head is spinning.
46. Whatever success I achieve will be undone by someone else.
47. I don't have enough clout to get things done.
48. It's just not worth the effort.
49. I'm getting close to retirement.
50. My other projects will suffer.
51. Been there, done that.
52. I don't want another thing to think about.
53. I won't have any time left for my family.
54. A more nimble competitor will beat us to the punch.
55. Teamwork is a joke around here.
56. I've never done anything like this before.
57. I won't be rewarded if the project succeeds.
58. We're not measured for innovation.
59. I don't have the right credentials.
60. I need more data.
61. It's not my job.
62. It will hard sustaining the motivation.
63. I've tried before and failed.
64. I'm not smart enough to pull this off.
65. I don't want to go to any more meetings.
66. It will take too long to get up to speed.
67. Our Stage Gate process will sabotage any hope of success.
68. I'm not skillful at building business cases.
69. Summer's coming.
70. The marketplace is too volatile.
71. This is a luxury we can't afford at this time.
72. I think we're about to be acquired.
73. I'm trying to simplify my life, not complicate it.
74. The dog ate my homework.
75. Help! I'm a prisoner in a Chinese fortune cookie factory.
76. My company just wants to squeeze more blood from the stone.
77. My company isn't committed to innovation.
78. I don't have the patience.
79. I'm not sure how to begin.
80. I'm too left-brained for this sort of thing.
81. I won't be able to get the funding required.
82. I'm getting too old for this.
83. Everyone's on a different page.
84. Spring is coming.
85. I'm hypoglycemic.
86. That's Senior Leadership's job
87. I'm thinking of quitting.
88. Market conditions aren't right.
89. We need to focus on the short term for a while.
90. Innovation, schminnovation.
91. What we really need are some cost cutting initiatives.
92. Six Sigma is all that people care about.
93. Mercury is in retrograde.
94. IT won't go for it.
95. Maybe next year.
96. That's my boss's job.
97. That's R&D's job.
98. I would if I could, but I can't, so I won't.
99. First, we need to benchmark the competition.
100.It's against my religion.
HOW TO GO BEYOND THESE LAME EXCUSES
1. Make a list of your three most bothersome ones.
2. Turn each excuse into a question, beginning with the words "How can I?" or "How can we?" (For example, if your excuse is "That's R&D's job," you might ask "How can I make innovation my job?" or "How can I help my team take more responsibility for innovating?"
3. Brainstorm each question -- alone and with your team.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.
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
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!
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!July 08, 2015
100 Reasons Why You Don't Get Your Best Ideas At Work
Since 1986, I've asked 10,000 people where and when they get their best ideas. Less than 2% have said "the workplace."
Based on my 25 years of working with a ton of innovation-seeking organizations, here's my take on WHY:
1. Too much to do, not enough time.
2. Too many distractions and interruptions.
3. You work in a risk averse organization.
4. Sleep deprivation.
5. Mental clutter.
6. Fear that someone will steal your idea.
7. You don't think of yourself as creative.
8. Boring meetings that put you in a bad mood.
9. You're not measured for the quantity or quality of ideas you generate.
10. Stultifying routine.
11. You are worried about layoffs and don't want to draw undue attention to yourself.
12. Poor ventilation -- not enough oxygen.
13. The last time you came up with a great idea, you were either ignored or ridiculed.
14. It's not in your job description.
15. It's not in the strategic plan.
16. It's not in the cards.
17. It's not in the Bible.
18. Your manager has made it clear that he/she does not have the time to consider your ideas.
19. Lack of immersion. Lack of incubation.
20. No one's ever told you that they want your ideas.
21. You are understaffed and don't have the time to try an innovative approach.
22. You are angry at the company.
23. You get no input from people outside your department.
24. Your company has just been acquired and you don't want your new overlord to succeed.
25. You know there's no one to pitch your new ideas to -- and even if there was, it's a long shot they would listen.
26. You're concerned that your great idea is so great that it will actually be accepted and then you will be expected to work on it in your spare time (which you don't have) with no extra resources made available to you.
27. All your great ideas are focused on trying to get Gina or Gary, in Marketing, to give you the time of day.
28. You're a new parent.
29. You've got other projects, outside of work, and have no energy left to think about anything else.
30. They don't pay you enough to think creatively.
31. You're expected to leave your mind at the door when you come to work.
32. No incentives or rewards.
33. You don't have the intrinsic motivation .
34. Actually, you don't want to be working at all -- and you wouldn't be working if the financial meltdown didn't happen.
35. You have not identified a challenge or opportunity that inspires you enough to think up new ideas.
36. No timely feedback from others.
37. There's no one to collaborate with.
38. Constantly changing priorities.
39. "Work," for you is synonymous with things you have to do not want to do, thus creating two parallel universes that never intersect.
40. You haven't read my award winning book yet.
41. It's too noisy.
42. Endless hustle and bustle.
43. You can't stop thinking about new ways to improve your Match.com profile.
44. You're too busy tweeting.
45. You have the attention span of a tse tse fly.
46. Just when a good idea pops into your head, you dismiss it as "not good enough".
47. Your left brain has become a kind of Attila the Hun in relation to your Pee Wee Herman-like right brain.
48. You didn't get the memo.
49. You are too busy deleting spam.
50. The brainstorming sessions you attend are pitiful.
51. You believe that new ideas are a dime a dozen.
52. You're not paid to think. You're paid to DO.
53. Actually, you don't have a job.
54. You are hypoglycemic.
55. You're not allowed to listen to music at your desk.
56. You have no sense of urgency.
57. Your office or cubicle feels like a jail cell.
58. You're too busy filling out forms.
59. Not enough coffee.
60. Drugs are not allowed in the workplace.
61. Existential despair.
62. There's a call on Line 2.
63. You have no time to incubate or reflect.
64. You've got to show results fast.
65. You know your boss will, eventually, get all the credit for your great ideas.
66. You've just been assigned to another project.
67. Brain fatigue.
68. You haven't tried Free the Genie yet.
69. You don't feel valued or appreciated.
70. You deciphered a much talked about sighting of a Crop Circle in England as meaning: "Stop coming up with good ideas at work."
71. Every extra minute you have is spent on Facebook.
72. There's too much stress and pressure on the job.
73. Naysayers and idea killers surround you.
74. Inability to relax.
75. It's summertime.
76. You've got this weird rash on your leg and you think it might be Lyme's disease or leprosy.
77. What you think of as a great idea and what your manager thinks of as a great idea are two entirely different things.
78. You know you won't get the funding, so why bother?
79. You're just trying to get through the day.
80. Every time you get a great idea, it's time to go to another meeting.
81. You only get your great ideas in the shower and there are no showers at work.
82. Your head is filled with a thousand things you need to do.
83. Relentless deadlines.
84. Too much input from others.
85. You have to stay focused on the "job at hand".
86. You'll only end up making the company richer and that is not what you want to do.
87. Those bright, annoying, overhead fluorescent lights.
88. No one besides you really cares.
89. You've just been assigned a project that is boring the hell out of you.
90. There is no one to brainstorm with.
91. Your husband/wife is complaining that all you ever do is work -- or talk about work.
92. No alcohol.
93. Your cultural upbringing has taught you that it is not your place to conjure up new ideas.
94. Your job is too structured to think outside the box.
95. People seem to be staring at you and that makes you self-conscious.
96. You're too busy complaining about the organization.
97. Wait! How come they're taking so much out of your paycheck?
98. You're only working there to beef up your resume for the next job.
99. A vast right wing conspiracy.
100. You let too many of the aforementioned 99 phenomena have their way with you. Your resulting assessment of the corporate environment not being conducive to the origination of great ideas then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
A big thank you to Jim Aubele, Fran Tyson-Marchino, Nirit Sharon, Cindy Pearce, Robert Fischaleck, Deborah Medenbach, Amy de Boinville, Glenna Dumay, Bert Dromedary, and Sally Kaiser for their contributions to this list.July 03, 2015
The Beauty of a Wandering Mind
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?"
The Selective Attention Test