June 29, 2017
Why Nothing Happens After a Brainstorming Session

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How many times have you participated in a brainstorming session, only to be underwhelmed by the utter lack of follow up? Unfortunately, in most businesses, this is often the norm. Here's why:

1. The output of the session is underwhelming.
2. No one has taken the time, pre-brainstorm, to consider follow-up.
3. No criteria is established to evaluate output.
4. No next steps are established at the end of the session.
5. No champions are identified.

6. The champions are not committed.
7. The champions are committed, but under-estimate the effort.
8. The ideas are too threatening to stakeholders.
9. No one is accountable for results.
10. The project leader doesn't stay in contact with key players and "out of sight, out of mind" takes over.

11. The "steering committee" takes their hands off the wheel.
12. The next brainstorming session is scheduled too quickly.
13. The output of the session is not documented.
14. No sponsors are on board.
15. Participants' managers are not supportive of the effort

16. It takes too long to document the output of the session.
17. The output is not distributed to stakeholders in a timely way.
18. Participants and stakeholders do not read the output.
19. Bureaucracy and company politics rule the day.
20. Somebody, in the session, is disengaged and sabotages the effort.

21. Teamwork is in short supply.
22. Small wins are not celebrated. People lose heart.
23. Participants perceive follow-up as "more work to do" instead of a great opportunity to really make a difference.
24. Unspoken agendas take over.
25. Workloads are unreasonable. Even well-intentioned participants have no time to follow up.

Excerpted from Conducting Genius
Our brainstorming website
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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:04 AM | Comments (10)

June 27, 2017
When a Best Practice Isn't

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I'm a collector of best practices. I like to find out what forward thinking individuals and organizations have done to accomplish extraordinary results.

Sometimes I share these stories in my keynotes or workshops. Invariably, my stock rises when I tell these stories. People think I know stuff. They get giddy. They take notes. They think about how to adapt these best practices to their organization. But then things get weird.

People start becoming satisfied with emulating other people's lives. Instead of thinking up their own best practices, they imitate. Ouch!

The spirit of innovation gets replaced by the religion of innovation.

Gone is reflection. Gone is the process of discovery. Gone is the ownership that comes with birthing new insights. In it's place? Simulation. Imitation. And, all too often, the blind following of pre-packaged solutions.

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I'm not saying there isn't value in paying attention to other people's best practices. There is.

But when when imitation replaces creation, something invariably gets lost -- and innovation eventually goes down the drain.

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:47 PM | Comments (2)

June 25, 2017
Want to Vacation in Woodstock?

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If you are looking for a great place to rent in Woodstock, NY, consider renting my home -- just a 12 minute walk to town. Mountain views. Peaceful. Gorgeous. A great place to rest, renew, and rejuvenate. Short- term or long-term rentals available. Click here for the full monte. Or send me an email: mitch@ideachampions.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:16 PM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2017
25 Awesome Quotes on Creativity

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"The things we fear most in organizations -- fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances -- are the primary sources of creativity." - Alfred North Whitehead

"The chief enemy of creativity is 'good sense.'" - Pablo Picasso

"Everyone who's ever taken a shower has had an idea. It's the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference." - Nolan Bushnell

"I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones." - John Cage

"As competition intensifies, the need for creative thinking increases. It is no longer enough to do the same thing better . . . no longer enough to be efficient and solve problems." - Edward de Bono

"I make more mistakes than anyone else I know, and sooner or later, I patent most of them." - Thomas Edison

"Creativity is thinking up new things. Innovation is doing new things." - Theodore Levitt

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"The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources." - Albert Einstein

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." - Scott Adams

"Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try to do things. You simply must do things." - Ray Bradbury

"Creativity is the sudden cessation of stupidity." - Edwin Land

"There's room for everybody on the planet to be creative and conscious if you are your own person. If you're trying to be like somebody else, then there isn't." - Tori Amos

"The key question isn't 'What fosters creativity?' But it is why in God's name isn't everyone creative? Where was the human potential lost? How was it crippled? I think therefore a good question might be not why do people create, but why do people not create." - Abraham Maslow

"To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong." - Joseph Chilton Pierce

"You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have." - Maya Angelou

"By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The non-existent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired." - Nikos Kazantzakis

"Creativity is discontent translated into arts." - Eric Hoffer

"A truly creative person rids him or herself of all self-imposed limitations." - Gerald Jampolsky

"Things are only impossible until they're not." - Jean-Luc Picard

"Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity." - T.S. Eliot

"Creativity is piercing the mundane to find the marvelous." - Bill Moyers

"The new meaning of soul is creativity and mysticism. These will become the foundation of the new psychological type and with him or her will come the new civilization." - Otto Rank

"The more original a discovery, the more obvious it seems afterwards."
- Arthur Koestler

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."
- Henry David Thoreau

"If you have nothing at all to create, then perhaps you create yourself." - Carl Jung

Dear Peeps: One of this blog's readers brought to my attention (thank you!), yesterday, that only two of the 25 quotes on this list were by women and she was very passionate about me offering a better balance of male/female quotes on the subject of creativity which, by the way, I am in the process of researching. Curiously, when I returned to the sources of quotes from which I culled this list, I discovered that the preponderance of quotes are also from men. Hmmm... So I've either got to find new sources of great quotes by women on this topic or the Directors of all the quote websites need to provide a better balance of quotes fir people like me to select from OR more women need to step up and start speaking their truth about this very important topic. Methinks a balance of the three is what is needed. That being said, if any of my readers have favorite quotes on creativity spoken or written by women, please note those quotes in the comments box below. I will reissue this post with a better balance of quotes just as soon as I source them or YOU make some suggestions. Gracias! We are all in this together. MD

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:32 AM | Comments (4)

June 18, 2017
Confessions of a Keynote Speaker

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Recently, I gave a keynote presentation to 150 people in the health care industry. After being introduced, I decided, as I usually do, to leave the safe confines of the podium ("a platform raised above the surrounding level to give prominence to the person on it"), dismount the stage, and "walk my talk" -- weaving my way in between the 20 round tables in the room, each with their own pitchers of water, tent cards, and little bowls of red and white mints.

For a keynote speaker, dismounting the stage and walking into the audience is always a risk -- the same kind of risk people take when they decide to get married, instead of just date. Or, why it's often easier to love humanity than just a single human being.

People, in theory, are interested in learning. People, in theory, are interested in listening to an outside speaker, especially when he's flown in from who knows where. But in reality, it's a completely different story. How do I know? By looking. By seeing. And by feeling what is really going on.

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To the AV guy in the back of the room, there were 150 health care professionals in attendance, but to me there were 12 different subgroups -- some large, some small. Twelve different mindsets. Twelve different tribes. And while they were all being paid by the same employer, they were all paying a very different kind of attention to what I was saying -- all thinking very different thoughts.

Mind you, I'm not claiming to be psychic or a mind reader, but after 25 years of doing this kind of work, a person develops a curious ability to sense what people are thinking.

GROUP 1: "Thank you! Thank you! Tell it like it is, my brother! Finally, somebody is speaking the truth! Hallelujah!"

GROUP 2: "Please do not come any closer to my table, sir. And, under no circumstances, approach me with a microphone. First of all, I have nothing to say and, second of all, even if I did, nobody in this room would be listening to me."

GROUP 3: "Excuse me. I... don't believe I've ever heard of you. Do you actually know anything about the nuances of our industry?"

GROUP 4: "It all sounds good to me. Makes perfect sense. But... um... er... how much extra work is this going to mean for me?"

GROUP 5: "I wonder what's for lunch. I sure hope it's not that awful chicken they served us last time. That wasn't chicken. That was shoe leather."

GROUP 6: "Flavor of the month alert! Last year it was Excellence. The year before that it was Lean Management. Now, it's Innovation. This too shall pass."

GROUP 7: "Hmm.. How can I seem to be interested when this guy gets close to my table so my boss won't think I don't really care."

GROUP 8: "Innovate! Yes! We totally need to innovate! Absolutely! Wait a minute! Isn't that why they pay our senior leaders the big bucks?"

GROUP 9: "Very cool. Good timing. How can I get my team on board?"

GROUP 10: "Earth to keynote speaker! It's all about priorities. I mean, if I had more time to innovate I would, but all I'm doing these days is running from one meeting to the other."

GROUP 11: "Theoretically speaking, I am with you 100%. Maybe 200%. But when push comes to shove around here, we are not in a business likely to innovate."

GROUP 12: "Innovate, schminnovate! We need more head count."

My point? Every keynote audience is a melting pot of varying perceptions, assumptions, and needs. In order for keynote presenters to be effective, they need to find their "golden mean" -- their own sweet spot between the inevitable extremes that will be represented by the audience. Any attempt to convert the "slackers" or align with the "early adopters" will create nothing but more separation, resistance, and duality. In the end, it all comes down to what Mark Twain said years ago: "When you speak the truth, you don't need to remember a thing."

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What my clients say

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:16 PM | Comments (0)

June 16, 2017
Listen to Your Subconscious Mind

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If you study the lives of people who have had Eureka moments, you'll discover that their breakthroughs almost always came after extended periods of intense, conscious effort.

They worked. They struggled. They abandoned all hope. They recommitted -- and then the breakthrough came. And often at the most unexpected of moments.

They weren't buying lottery tickets at their local deli, hoping to win a breakthrough fortune. They were digging for treasure in their own back yard.

Rene Descartes (Mr. "I-Think-Therefore-I-Am") got the Scientific Method revealed to him in a dream. Elias Howe arrived at the final design for the lock stitch sewing machine in a dream. Richard Wagner got the idea his uber work, Das Rhinegold, while stepping onto a bus after long months of creative despair.

In other words, the conscious mind works overtime in an attempt to solve a problem or achieve a goal. Unable to come up with the solution, the challenge gets outsourced to the subconscious mind, which then proceeds to figure things out in its own, sweet time.

Of course, all of this assumes we are listening to that still small voice of wisdom within us.

Well then, what's a not-so-still, left-brained, bottom-line-watching business person to do if he wants to increase the odds of tapping into his inner Einstein.

Here's a start:

This week, keep a log of your most inspired ideas, intuitions, and dreams. When something pops for you (an inspired thought, an inkling, a sudden insight) write it down -- even if it doesn't make sense. Then, at the end of the week, read your log.

Look for clues. Notice patterns. Make new connections. See what insights come to mind -- and if they do, let us know.

Mitch Ditkoff
Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:48 PM | Comments (3)

June 15, 2017
The True Definition of Comedy

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"Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." - Peter Ustinov

Clarence Darrow chimes in

Quotes on humor and playfulness
The Daily Show

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:47 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2017
The Most Important Ingredient to Ensure an Organization's Success

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In a recent survey of 246 CEOs from around the world, "having the right culture to foster and support innovation" was rated the most important ingredient to ensure a organization's success. In other words, if innovation is the big fish companies are trying to hook, culture is the ocean in which those fish are swimming.

Changing a company's culture, however, is not an easy thing to do. When you think about how difficult it is for just one person to lose five pounds or stop smoking, imagine the challenge of getting thousands of people to go beyond their old habits and outdated mental models. That being said, it IS possible.

The key to success? Beginning. And the key to beginning? Giving people a simple roadmap of what they can do, within their sphere of influence, to make a difference

This is what Mitch Ditkoff's Jump Starting a Culture of Innovation keynote is all about. Each person in the audience exits the keynote not only with fresh insights, inspiration, and ideas about what they can do to move the needle, they craft a personalized game plan for how to actually make it happen.

Tell us about your need
50 Ways to Foster a Culture of Innovation
The Four Currents of a Culture of Innovation

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:28 PM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2017
The Innovation Burnout Syndrome

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Most newly launched corporate innovation initiatives have a dark side, a not-much-talked-about shadow side -- the metaphorical alcoholic-father-in-the-basement side. And it is this... fascinating new projects are conceived, senior leaders get pumped, game plans are drawn up, but no one gives the "worker bees" any more time to devote to the newly launched projects. They are, in effect, expected to shoehorn their new efforts into their already overloaded schedules.

Bottom line, aspiring innovators' "day jobs" end up colliding with newly launched innovation initiatives and mayhem ensues. People either burn out, get cranky, triangulate to third parties, spend way too much time explaining the newly launched innovation project to their "day job" managers, or else go into martyrdom-mode -- all behaviors that do not bode well for the individual, the company, or its customers. And while every company DOES have a few superstar self-starters who dive in with both feet and a heigh ho silver, this is not a formula for sustainable innovation.

The solution? Either redistribute workloads, offer "innovation project sabbaticals", or provide your front line innovators with enough support services to unclutter their minds, ease their way forward, and allow them the time to focus on the innovation job at hand without frying.

If you don't, expect nothing but a whole lot of chaos, broken promises, unfulfilled expectations, and the kind of innovation backlash you wish you hadn't unleashed.

Three minute video on this phenomenon

Idea Champions
MitchDitkoff.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:28 PM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2017
Great Quotes on Customer Service

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The following quotes are dedicated to the good people of Nations Roof, a forward-thinking client of ours who continues to impress us with their commitment to providing extraordinary customer service.

"Always keep in mind the old retail adage: Customers remember the service a lot longer than they remember the price." - Lauren Freedman

"The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best, but legendary." - Sam Walton

"Make a customer, not a sale." - Katherine Barchetti

"Customers don't expect you to be perfect. They DO expect you to fix things when they go wrong." - Donald Porter

"Always do more than is required of you." - George Patton

"It's easier to love a brand when the brand loves you back." - Seth Godin

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"Here is a powerful, yet simple rule. Always give people more than they expect to get." - Nelson Bosell

"Make the customer the hero of your story." - Ann Handley

"Every contact we have with a customer influences whether or not they'll come back. We have to be great every time or we'll lose them." - Kevin Stirtz

"A lot of people have fancy things to say about customer service, but it's just a day-in, day-out, ongoing, never-ending, persevering, compassionate kind of activity." - Christopher McCormick

"Customer service is the new marketing." - Derek Sivers

"To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity." - Don Alden Adams

"Don't find fault. Find a remedy." - Henry Ford

"Seek first to understand. Then to be understood." - Steven Covey

"Any customer that walks away, disrespected and defeated, represents tens of thousands of dollars out the door, in addition to the failure of a promise the brand made in the first place. You can't see it but it's happening, daily." - Seth Godin

"Every great business is built on friendship." - James Cash Penny

"You never get a second chance to make a first impression." - Will Rogers

"When the customer comes first, the customer will last." - Robert Half

"The customer's perception is your reality." - Kate Zabriskie

"If you work just for money, you'll never make it, but if you love what you're doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours." - Ray Kroc

"Revolve your world around the customer and more customers will revolve around you." - Heather Williams

"There are many who subscribe to the convention that service is a business cost, but our data demonstrates that superior service is an investment that can help drive business growth. Investing in quality talent, and ensuring they have the skills, training and tools that enable them to empathize and actively listen to customers are central to providing consistently excellent service experiences."- Jim Bush

"No amount of advertising can repair the damage done by failing to properly address a customer's concern." - Albert Schindler

"The reputation of a thousand years may be undermined by the conduct of one hour." - Japanese Proverb

"Whether you are big or small, you cannot give good customer service if your employees don't feel good about coming to work." - Martin Oliver

"Thank your customer for complaining and mean it. Most will never bother to complain. They'll just walk away." - Marilyn Suttle

"Don't reinvent the wheel. Focus on winning one customer at a time. Be honest and sincere. Do what's right. There's nothing magical about this. That's been my guiding principle. To make it work, you have to live it every day. Make it your mindset." - Robert Spector

"Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, 'What's in it for me?" - Brian Tracy

A story about extraordinary service
Idea Champions
Storytelling as a customer service catalyst

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:23 PM | Comments (0)

June 07, 2017
It's Really Very Simple

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Illustration: gapingvoid
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IdeaChampions.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:33 AM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2017
25 Reasons Why Brainstorming Sessions Fail in Your Company

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Whenever I ask my clients to tell me about the quality of their company's brainstorming sessions, they usually roll their eyes and grumble, noting several of the phenomena below.

Recognize any of them in your organization?

1. Lame facilitation
2. Wrong problem statement
3. Unmotivated participants
4. Hidden (or competing) agendas
5. Insufficient diversity of participants
6. Addiction to the status quo
7. Lack of clear ground rules
8. Sterile meeting space
9. No transition from "business as usual"
10. Lack of robust participation

11. The extroverts take over
12. Habitual idea killing
13. Attachment to pet ideas
14. Discomfort with ambiguity
15. Hyper-seriousness

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16. Endless interruptions
17. People come late and leave early
18. Premature adoption of the first "right idea"
19. Group think
20. Hierarchy, turfs, and competing sub-groups

21. Imbalance of divergent and convergent thinking
22. No tools or techniques to spark creativity
23. Inadequate idea capture methods
24. Premature evaluation
25. No real closure or next steps

Who can you meet with, this week, to explore new and better ways of improving the quality of your company's brainstorming sessions?

Our brainstorming website
In Defense of Brainstorming
One way to turn things around
Why train people to be brainstorm facilitators

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:45 AM | Comments (5)

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.

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