May 30, 2017
38 Awesome Quotes on Change

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1. "It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change." - Charles Darwin

2. "Change before you have to." - Jack Welch

3. "People don't resist change. They resist being changed!" -- Peter Senge

4. "Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself." - Leo Tolstoy

5. "The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking." - Albert Einstein

6. "Nothing endures but change." - Heraclitus

7. "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." - Buckminster Fuller

8. "Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have." - Margaret Mead

9. "I put a dollar in one of those change machines. Nothing changed."- George Carlin

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10. "The key to change... is to let go of fear." - Rosanne Cash

11. "When people are ready to, they change. They never do it before then, and sometimes they die before they get around to it. You can't make them change if they don't want to, just like when they do want to, you can't stop them." - Andy Warhol

12. "Be the change you want to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi

13. "Things do not change; we change." - Henry David Thoreau

14. "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." - St. Francis of Assisi

15. "We change whether we like it or not." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

16. "When you're finished changing, you're finished." - Benjamin Franklin

17. "All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another." - Anatole France

18. "When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves." - Victor Frankl

19. "Without accepting the fact that everything changes, we cannot find perfect composure. But unfortunately, although it is true, it is difficult for us to accept it. Because we cannot accept the truth of transience, we suffer." - Shunryu Suzuki

20. "If you want to make enemies, try to change something." - Woodrow Wilson

21. "Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof." - John Kenneth Galbraith

22. "Our only security is our ability to change." - John Lilly

23. "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." - Maya Angelou

24. "Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

25. "The only way to make sense of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance." - Alan Watts

26. "The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress." - Charles Kettering

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27. "We live in a moment of history where change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing." - R.D. Laing

28. "People change and forget to tell each other." - Lillian Hellman

29. "The rate of change is not going to slow down anytime soon. If anything, competition in most industries will probably speed up even more in the next few decades." - John Kotter

30. "Company cultures are like country cultures. Never try to change one. Try, instead, to work with what you've got." - Peter Drucker

31. "In times of rapid change, experience could be your worst enemy."- J. Paul Getty

32. "Change your thoughts and you change your world." - Norman Vincent Peale

33. "Know what's weird? Day by day, nothing seems to change, but pretty soon...everything's different." - Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes

34. "We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us." - Joseph Campbell

35. "It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad." - C. S. Lewis

36. "If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading." - Lao Tzu

37. "The changes we dread most may contain our salvation." - Barbara Kingsolver

38. "If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got." - Anon

Big thanks to Val Vadeboncouer for locating these quotes.

Idea Champions
Keynotes on Change
One way to deal effectively with the coming changes

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:00 PM

May 27, 2017
One Simple Way to Ensure That Your Team Becomes High Performing

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If you are reading this, chances are good that you are currently a member of a team -- either at work, in your community, or as part of a volunteer organization. And if you aren't on a team now, chances are good that, at some time in your life, you were on a team. Yes? I thought so.

In any case, it's more than likely that whatever team you are on, or have been on, has had some challenges along the way.

There were speed bumps, fumbles, breakdowns, lost opportunities, inefficiencies, infighting, power struggles, control issues, boring meetings, personality problems, competing agendas, cliques, triangulation, disappointment, disenchantment, and disillusionment.

You know, real life -- the normal ups and downs of any group of people attempting to join together to accomplish some kind of mutually agreed upon goal.

I have been fascinated by this phenomenon for years and, along the way, have had the good fortune of being a member of quite a few high performing teams, including, in high school, an undefeated, championship soccer team.

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Curiously, some people think that just because they're working along side a bunch of other people they're on a team. This is not necessarily true.

What they are thinking of as a "team", may, in fact, merely be a group, club, association, assemblage, aggregation, congregation, gang, crowd, faction, posse, or loose confederation of highly opinionated individuals being paid by the same employer.

A team is different -- requiring a much higher standard of participation and commitment -- not unlike the difference between "dating" and "being married."

Since there are many fine books on this topic (here's my favorite) and I know you only have a few minutes to read this highly informative and action-oriented blog post, I'm going to cut to the chase and focus on just one small component of a high performing team -- one you and your team can do something about immediately.

Agreements.

Yes, agreements. As in operating principles. Norms. Rules of engagement. The collective, verifiable, interpersonal behaviors that you and your teammates can say YES to and abide by that will radically enhance collaboration, communication, and connection.

Most teams operate as if their agreements are in place, but usually they're not. They may be implied, but we all know where implications get us. The same place as good intentions.

So here we go -- a checklist of 25 Team Agreements for your consideration.

I am not suggesting you adopt all of them. What I'm suggesting is that you consider them, find the ones that work for you and, in collaboration with your teammates, create your own set of agreements.

Whatever I've omitted, add. Whatever I've added that's not your cup of tea, omit. Whatever wording is off-base, bothersome, or crude, change. And while some of what's on my list may seem too granular for your taste, know this: Sometimes it's the seemingly "small stuff" that screws everything up -- like the pea under the mattress or adding one too many teaspoons of salt to an already really good pot of soup.

NOTE: I have purposely excluded what I call "Fortune Cookie" statements -- those vague teamwork truisms (sometimes called "values") that can be very important to honor, but are not always translated into action. For example, I could say "be respectful" or "communicate well", but what does that really mean? These kinds of statements can be interpreted in a million different ways. If "respect" is an agreement you want your team to live by -- and a mighty fine one it is -- then frame it in a way that each team member will know what respect looks and sounds like, real time, and will be able to notice when that agreement is either broken or ignored.

READY?

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1. Co-create and commit to a compelling vision.

2. Get completely clear about roles and responsibilities. Know who's doing what. And by when.

3. Honor thy commitments.

4. If you realize that you cannot honor a commitment, inform your teammates ASAP and then renegotiate a new commitment.

5. Assume positive intent.

6. Communicate emotionally charged issues on the phone or in person, not in an email.

7. When someone speaks, listen deeply before gearing up to convince them of what you already think.

8. Share your successes with each other

9. Clear the air as quickly as possible whenever there is a breakdown

10. No triangulation! (If someone complains to you about someone else, encourage that person to work it out with the person they are complaining about.)

11. Give and receive feedback.

12. If you need help, ask for it.

13. Show up to meetings on time (and be prepared).

14. Routinely acknowledge and appreciate each other.

15. Be co-responsible. OK, maybe your team has a "leader". Fine. But when the rest of team fails to speak up or act because "they are not the leader", you got problems in River City. Everyone is responsible.

16. Share information freely. (Since, "information is power", the withholding of information is a passive aggressive way in which people wield power over each other).

17. Speak your truth, without attacking or making anyone wrong.

18. Debrief "failures." Together, find the silver lining in every cloud. In other words, learn from mistakes.

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19. Create sacred time to have fun together.

20. Begin each day with a 5-minute "morning unity" meeting -- a simple way to make sure everyone is on the same page.

21. Return calls and emails within 24 hours. (If you know you can't return a call or email that quickly, let your teammates know by when you will be able to respond).

22. Share best practices and lessons learned.

23. Celebrate progress (small wins).

24. Be willing to say NO if there is something you are not willing to do (rather than seeming to agree and then, simply, not doing it).

25. Check for understanding before ending a meeting or phone call. Translation? Summarize what you think the agreement or action is -- and invite others to either confirm your understanding or modify it in some way -- so when you leave for points unknown you are all on the same page, not ruled by your assumptions or projections.


BIG THANKS to the following folks for their fine input, feedback, opinions, and insight: Robyn Botellho, Eve Baer, Sharon Jeffers, Matt Altman, Janice Wilson, Kimberly Scott, Sprice Drury, Pierre Boquie, Sharon Gilbert, Janice Silver, Kathy V.J. Miller, Isis Roygbiv, Allen Feld, Liana Turner, Charlie Vacchiano, Alaya Love, Terry Delaney, Yaron Yemini, Tara Liz Driscoll, Mike Regan, Simon Crosse, Michelle Cameron, Neil Frye, James Eartheart, Suzy Chase-Motzkin, Sushila Wood, Lucka Koscak, Katya Huber, Sharon Blatt, Capilcu Milivoi, Alex Shay, Mark Putnam, Susan Margaret Pascoe, David Goldbeck, Alan Roderick-Jones, Tony Cardo, Caridad B. Monroe, Jennifer Boire, Mark Peritz, and Leah Stickles.

Idea Champions
Team Innovation
Innovation Keynotes

PS: We are in the process of producing a deck of "TeamWork Cards". If you want us to let you know when they are ready to ship, contact us.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:24 PM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2017
The Intersection of Innovation and Continuous Improvement

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What does creative thinking and innovation have to do with continuous improvement? A lot. Two sides of the same coin.

Interview with Idea Champions' President, Mitch Ditkoff, on GoLeanSixSigma.

Focuses on the intersection of innovation and continuous improvement. Both are needed. Both are complementary.


Indeed, the Managing Partner and Executive Advisor of GoLeanSixSigma, Elisabeth Swan, was an Idea Champions consultant at one point in her storied career.

Idea Champions
MitchDitkoff

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:01 AM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2017
Fail, Fail, the Gang's All Here

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Illustration: GapingVoid
Great quotes on failure
MitchDitkoff.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:20 PM | Comments (0)

May 16, 2017
On Building the Case for Storytelling

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One of the biggest challenges that internal change agents have when it comes to fostering a culture of storytelling in the workplace is building the business case -- why it matters and what the impact can be. The quote below, from John Kotter, author of Leading Change, will help. If you need help building your case, shoot me an email and I will send you some more "grist for the mill" -- links to compelling articles and videos on the topic.

Storytelling at Work: the blog

Storytelling at Work: the book
The author of both

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:06 AM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2017
If You Want to Innovate, Listen!

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If you're interested in raising the bar for innovation in your organization, start listening more. Listening, quite simply, is the most powerful form of influence.

Generally speaking, when we think of influencing others we are thinking about our ability to get others to think and act in ways we want them to, in ways that serve our interests and objectives.

The influence process is most often conceived as the ability to provide compelling arguments -- that is, arguments that are indisputable and indicate there is only one way to proceed.

The influence process is seen as the ability to turn aside all alternative ways of thinking, to demonstrate their inadequacy in the service of making one's own position more compelling.

The ability to influence goes beyond the ability to make a compelling argument, of course. It can also involve the use of power, seduction, or fear to drive others to a particular outcome.

What is much more rarely recognized is the role of listening and empathy in the influence process.

Listening to what concerns and drives others provides a powerful basis for influence because it is by showing how your perspective will affect the concerns and interests of others that you gain others' interest and support.

But the case for listening and empathy goes much further.

If you can truly understand what others value and are concerned about, it can lead you to change your position about what is required to achieve the goals you are striving for.

If you deeply understand others, you can mobilize them, not by manipulation -- but by gearing your approach to address the real needs and interests of your stakeholders.

Listening and appreciating multiple viewpoints can help you gain more acceptance for your ideas and better ideas. And, as it all plays out, these better ideas will eventually attract more support and increase your influence -- so you can then listen more and attract more support.

-- Barry Gruenberg


Illustration: gapingvoid.com

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:45 AM | Comments (4)

May 08, 2017
STORYTELLING WORKSHOP DESIGN: One Size Does Not Fit All

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If you are looking for a simple way to leverage the power of storytelling in your organization, but haven't found an "off the shelf" solution, I know why: it doesn't exist. And WHY it doesn't exist is because your organization's needs are unique. One size fits all does not fit all. That's why Idea Champions' storytelling workshops are all customized. We mix and match from a broad selection of modules to create the perfect fit for you. All we need to know is what topics you'd like to see us address and in what ratio. Simple. And we don't charge for customization.

THE MODULES
-- Building a business case for the benefits of storytelling
-- Improving listening and feedback skills
-- Activating the innovation mindset
-- Sharing in-house best practices
-- Communicating tacit knowledge (i.e. insight and wisdom)
-- Going beyond your organization's old story
-- Generating new ideas and solutions
-- Increasing trust and teamwork
-- Improving idea selling skills
-- Inspiring action and meaningful follow through
-- Fostering a culture of storytelling in the workplace

TWO EXAMPLES:
Creating the Innovation Mindset
Storytelling at Work

OTHER RESOURCES FOR YOU
We wrote the book
We also wrote the blog
The workshop is taught by this gent

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:51 AM | Comments (0)

May 04, 2017
Need a Breakthough? Unplug for a Moment. Take a Break!

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True innovators rarely follow the straight and narrow path. Not only do they march to a different drummer, they're often not even on the same playing field as most people. Take Seymour Cray, for example, the legendary designer of high-speed computers.

According to John Rollwagen, ex-chairman of Cray research, Seymour used to divide his time between building the next generation super computer and digging an underground tunnel below his Chippewa Falls house.

Cray's explanation of his tunnel digging behavior is consistent with the stories of many other creatives -- inner-directed, boundary-pushing people who understand the need to go off-line whenever they get stuck.

Bottom line, whenever they find themselves struggling with a thorny problem, they walk away from it for a while. They know, from years of practical experience, that more (i.e. obsession, analysis, effort) is often less (i.e ideas, solutions, results).

Explained Cray, "I work for three hours and then get stumped. So I quit and go to work in the tunnel. It takes me an hour or so to dig four inches and put in the boards. You see, I'm up in the Wisconsin woods, and there are elves in the woods. So when they see me leave, they come back into my office and solve all the problems I'm having. Then I go up (to my lab) and work some more."

Explained Rollwagen, "The real work happens when Seymour is in the tunnel."

We help people dig their tunnel
And sometimes we do this via storytelling (like the one above)
MitchDitkoff.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:55 PM | Comments (0)

The Gotta Have a Process Blues

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In 1999, I Co-Founded Face the Music (along with Paul Kwiecinski) -- an interactive business blues band that helps organizations get out of the box, improve communication, and build teams in a fun way.

One day, GE contacted us and asked if we would write and perform eight original blues songs that would poke fun at Six Sigma, as part of their upcoming Black Belt conference. We did. Here's one:


THE GOTTA HAVE A PROCESS BLUES

I woke up this morning,
Put both feet on the floor,
But I didn't have a process
To find the bathroom door,
So all I did was shuffle,
First the left foot, then the right,
Forgot to count the tiles
(Hey boss, I ain't too bright.)

We got green belts, black belts,
Corporate karate
And soon we'll need a process
For going to the potty.
Some charts and graphs would be real cool to help us choose
Just what to name this song 'bout the gotta have a process blues.

Back when we were kids
The only processed thing was cheese,
But now I need a process
Every single time I sneeze.
I say achoo, I blow my nose,
I try to get it right,
My green belt says my charts don't flow,
Not once a gesundheit.

I make no mistakes,
I do everything right,
To make sure nothing breaks
I stay up all night.
I'm a Six Sigma cowboy
With all my charts and graphs,
I measure every joke
And the way it makes me laugh.

We got green belts, black belts,
Corporate karate
And soon we'll need a process
For going to the potty.
A fishbone diagram would be cool to help us choose
Just what to name this song about the gotta have a process blues.

I barely make a boo boo, I rarely blow a deal,
You might call it voo doo, but that's just how I feel,
I'm one in a million
Though my defects number three,
I log on while I'm sleeping
And I've changed my name to "E."

We got green belts, black belts,
Corporate karate
And soon we'll need a process
For going to the potty.

- Blind Willy Nilly (that's me)
Six Sigma and breakthrough thinking
Face the Music on CNN

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:21 AM | Comments (0)

May 02, 2017
Why Use a Creative Thinking Technique?

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If you have ever jump started your car in the winter with a pair of jumper cables you already know why it makes sense to use a creative thinking technique: to spark your ability to arrive at your preferred destination.

Sometimes, to get you moving, a spark is needed -- a jolt -- and that's where creative thinking techniques come in.

All of us, no matter where we live and what we do for a living, are creative. We are. It's built in. The problem is, for many of us, our creativity peaked when we were five years old. Since then, it's been a slow and steady decline into conformity and conventionality. Our innate creativity has, all-too-often, gotten buried, neglected, and ignored. Like a car engine in winter, it sometimes goes cold. So cold, in fact, that we can't figure out how to get it started again.

Open2 Mind3.jpg Applied in the right way at the right time, creative thinking techniques have the power to re-start your creative engine and get you cruising towards your destination -- able to far more reliably generate bold new ideas, solutions, and non-obvious possibilities.

Bottom line, creative thinking techniques give you access to your own buried genius. And sometimes it takes less than 60 seconds.

You don't need to be an Einstein to use a creative thinking technique, just willing to challenge the status quo, go beyond your assumptions, and be open to conjuring up some bold, new possibilities. Ready?

Here one of our techniques
Here's another
Idea Champions

50 quotes on possibility

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)

May 01, 2017
Delivering the Unexpected!

Very inspiring 17-minute video. Howard Brodsky on going way beyond the call of duty to surprise and delight your customers. Included a cool anecdote about a pilot who bought pizza for all of his passengers.

The world's best collection of memorable quotes
MitchDitkoff.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:45 PM | Comments (0)

Blow the Minds of Your Customers

In what ways can you blow the minds of your customers this month? How can you exceed their expectations? How can you deliver the kind of off-the-grid service they will never forget? Check out what WestJet did. Whoa!

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:20 PM | Comments (1)

What Cortisol, Oxytocin, and Dopamine Have to Do With the Impact of Storytelling

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There's a quantifiable reason why the most successful Superbowl commericials are all structured like stories. Neuroscientists and neuroeconomists agree. And what they agree on is that it has a lot to do with the chemicals that stories trigger in the brain. Here's a well-written Harvard Review article on this fascinating phenomenon.

MitchDitkoff.com
How to change innovation mindset via storytelling
My award-winning book on storytelling in the workplace

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:01 PM | Comments (0)

Who Are We?

Idea Champions is a consulting and training company dedicated to awakening and nurturing the spirit of innovation. We help individuals, teams and entire organizations tap into their innate ability to create, develop and implement ideas that make a difference.

MitchDitkoff.com
Click here for the simplest, most direct way, to learn more about Idea Champions' semi-fearless leader, Mitch Ditkoff. Info on his keynotes, workshops, conferences, and more.
Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling for the Revolution is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling to elevate the conversation on planet Earth. Provocative. Evocative. And fun. YOU have stories to tell. This book will help you tell them.
Storytelling at Work
"The world is not made of atoms," wrote the poet, Muriel Rukeyser. "It's made of stories." Learn how to discover, honor, and unpack the stories of yours that show up "on the job" in Mitch Ditkoff's award-winning 2015 book, Storytelling at Work.
Top 5 Speaker
Mitch Ditkoff, the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions, has recently been voted a top 5 speaker in the field of innovation and creativity by Speakers Platform, a leading speaker's bureau.
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Workshops & Trainings
Highly engaging learning experiences that increase each participant's ability to become a creative force for positive change
Brainstorm Facilitation
High impact certification training that teaches committed change agents how to lead groundbreaking ideation sessions
Cultivating Innovation
Your "best and brightest" are the future leaders of your company, but unless they know how to foster a culture of innovation, their impact will be limited. A one-day workshop with us is all they need to begin this journey.
Our Blog Cabin
Our Heart of Innovation blog is a daily destination for movers and shakers everywhere — gleefully produced by our President, Mitch Ditkoff, voted "best innovation blogger in the world" two years running.
Team Innovation
Innovation is a team sport. Brilliant ideas go nowhere unless your people are aligned, collaborative, and team-oriented. That doesn't happen automatically, however. It takes intention, clarity, selflessness, and a new way of operating.
Awake at the Wheel, Book about big ideas If you're looking for a powerful way to jump start innovation and get your creative juices flowing, Awake at the Wheel is for you. Written by Mitch Ditkoff, Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions.
Face the Music Blues Band The world's first interactive business blues band. A great way to help your workforce go beyond complaint.

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