August 31, 2017
The Top 10 Reasons Why the Top 10 Reasons Don't Matter

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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.

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:51 PM | Comments (2)

August 30, 2017
10 Ways to Help Left Brainers Tap Into Their Creativity

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If your job requires you to lead meetings, brainstorming sessions, or problem solving gatherings of any kind, chances are good that most of the people you come in contact with are left-brain dominant: analytical, logical, linear folks with a passion for results and a huge fear that the meeting you are about to lead will end with a rousing chorus of kumbaya.

Not exactly the kind of mindset conducive to breakthrough thinking.

Do not lose heart, oh facilitators of the creative process. Even if you find yourself in a room full of 10,000 left brainers, there are tons of ways to work with this mindset in service to bringing out the very best of the group's collective genius:

1. Diffuse the fear of ambiguity by continually clarifying the process
Most left-brain-dominant people hate open-ended processes and anything that smacks of ambiguity.

Next time you find yourself leading a creative thinking session, make it a point to give participants, early is the session, a mental map of the process you'll be using. Explain that the session will consist of two key elements: divergent thinking and convergent thinking.

In the divergent segment, you'll be helping people consider non-traditional approaches. In the convergent segment, you'll be helping people analyze, evaluate, and select from the multiplicity of ideas they have generated.

If participants are going to get uneasy, it will happen during the divergent segment. Your task? Periodically remind them of where they are in the process. "Here's our objective," you might say. "Here's where we've been. Here's where we are. And here's we're going. Any questions?"

2. Get people talking about AHAS! they've had
No matter how risk averse or analytical people in your sessions may be, it's likely that all of them -- at some time or another -- have had a really great idea. genie2 .jpg"Creativity" really isn't all that foreign to them (although they may think it is). All you need to do to get them in touch with that part of themselves is help them recall a moment when they were operating at a high level of creativity.

Get them talking about how it felt, what were the conditions, and what preceded the breakthrough. You'll be amazed at the stories you'll hear and how willing everyone will be, after that, to really stretch out.

3. Transform limiting assumptions
One of the biggest obstacles to creativity is the assumption-making part of our brain -- the part that is forever drawing lines in the sand -- the part that is ruled by the past. Most people are not aware of the assumptions they have -- in the same way that most drivers are not aware of the blind spot in their mirror.

If you want people to be optimally creative, it is imperative that you find a way to help them identify their limiting assumptions about the challenge they are brainstorming. "Awareness cures," explains psychologist Fritz Perls. But DON'T get caught in a lengthy discussion about the collective limiting assumptions of the group. This is often just another way that left-brain dominant participants will default to analyzing and debating.

Instead, lead a process that will help participants identify and explore their limiting assumptions. Then, time allowing, help them transform each of these limiting assumptions into open-ended "How can we?" questions for brainstorming.

4. Encourage idea fluency
Dr. Linus Pauling, one of the most influential chemists of the 20th century, was once asked, "How do you get a good idea?" His response? "The best way to get a good idea is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away."

That's why "Go for a quantity of ideas" is the first rule of brainstorming. You want to encourage people, early and often, to go for quantity. This will short circuit participants' perfectionistic, self-censoring tendencies -- two behaviors that are certain death to creativity.

5. Invite humor

The right use of is a great way to help people tap into their right brains. Indeed, "haha" and "aha" are closely related. Both are the result of surprise or discontinuity. You laugh when your expectations are confronted in a delightful way.

Please note, however, that your use of humor must not be demeaning to anyone in the room. Freud explained that every "joke" has a victim and is used by the teller to gain advantage over the victim -- a way to affirm power. And when a group finds itself in the realm of power (and the yielding of power), it will undoubtedly end up in left brain territory.

You don't want to feed that beast.

Instead, set the tone by telling a victimless joke or two, or by your own self-deprecating humor. But even more important than "joke telling" is to allow and encourage a free flowing sense of playfulness.

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6. Do the right brain/ left brain two-step
Brainstorming for 3, 4 or 5 hours in a row is unusually exhausting, resulting in the "diminishing returns" syndrome. Creative thinking, like life itself, follows natural laws. Day is followed by night, winter by spring, inbreath by outbreath.

That's why the design of your creative thinking session needs to alternate between the cerebral and the kinesthetic -- between brainstorming and some kind of hands-on, experiential activity. By doing this two-step, participants will stay refreshed and engaged.

7. Periodically mention that chaos precedes creative breakthroughs

Left-brained, logical people are rarely comfortable with ambiguity, chaos and the unknown. It seems messy. Disorganized. Downright unprofessional. Indeed, much of the Six Sigma work being done in corporations these days is to reduce variability and increase predictability.

Paradox alert!

If you want to get really creative, you will need to increase variability and help participants get more "out of control." Picasso said it best, "The act of creation is first of all an act of destruction." Tom Peters said it second best, "Innovation is a messy business."

So, when you sense that your session is filled with ambiguity-phobic people, remember to mention how it's normal for ambiguity to precede a creative breakthrough. You may even want to mention how you will be purposefully infusing the session with moments of ambiguity, just to prime the creative pump.

8. Establish criteria for evaluation
The reason why ideas are usually considered a dime a dozen is because most people are unclear about their process for identifying the priceless ones. That's why a lot of brainstorming sessions are frustrating. Tons of possibilities are generated, but there is no clear path for winnowing and choosing.

Let's assume, for example, that the session you facilitate generates 100 powerful, new ideas. Do you have a process for helping participants pare the 100 down to a manageable few? If not, you need one. Ideally, the criteria for selecting ideas will be clarified before the session and introduced to participants early in the session.

Please note that there is some debate amongst brainstorm mavens as to when to offer the criteria. Some say this should happen at the beginning of the session (to help assuage the left brain need for logic and boundaries). Others suggest delaying the identification of criteria until just before the idea evaluation process. Either way will work. Your call.

9. Be a referee when you have to
No matter how many ground rules you mention about "suspending judgment" or "delaying evaluation," you are going to have some heavy hitters in the room just waiting for a moment to doubt your approach or "the process."

Indeed, one of the favorite (often unconscious) strategies of some left-brainers is to debate and question the facilitator every step of the way. While you want to honor their concerns and right to speak their truth, you also want to hold the bar high for the intention behind the brainstorming session -- and that is to challenge the status quo, entertain the new, and create space for imaginations to roam.

Don't be afraid to be firm with participants who want to control the session. At the very least, ask them to suspend their need for "convergence" (i.e. evaluation, judgment, decision making) to the end of the session when there will be plenty of time to exercise that very important muscle.

10. Consult with the tough people on the breaks
Every once in a while, a really opinionated person shows up in a session -- someone who is probably very smart, competent, experienced, with a big BS detector, and just enough arrogance to make you feel uncomfortable. These people can really affect the group, especially if they hold positions of power in the organization.

In the best of all worlds, these people would always be on your side. They won't be. Be careful about playing to these people in a neurotic attempt to get their approval. You won't get it. But DO seek them out on breaks and engage them. Get them talking. Pay attention. See if you can pick up any useful feedback or clues about revising your agenda or approach.

Even though you wouldn't choose to be trapped on a desert island with them, these folks may turn out to be a huge blessing -- because they are carriers of a particular sensibility that needs to be honored. More than likely, some of the other people in the room are feeling the same thing, but have been too polite to show their true colors. So, don't be afraid of these people. They can be a very valuable resource.

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Brainstorming for left-brainers
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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:43 PM | Comments (3)

August 29, 2017
How I Won a Contract from AT&T By Teaching One Man to Juggle

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A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a good story is worth a million. Here's a five-minute story about how the company I co-founded, Idea Champions, won a large contract from AT&T by teaching the Director of Training and Development how to juggle in five minutes.

Read the full story in this book
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Me speaking about storytelling in business

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:56 PM | Comments (0)

August 23, 2017
The Challenge Creative People Face

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Here is one of the biggest challenges creative people face: finding the right balance between spontaneity and planning.

Spontaneity, while a huge part of the creative process, can also be a huge curse. The intoxicating nature of spontaneity -- and the likelihood that it will lead to more projects -- has a tendency to sidetrack. It's sparkly. It's fascinating. And it's fun. But it can also be a massive distraction.

The result? Many creative people have more projects "on the table" than they can execute. And while this often makes for good cocktail party conversation, it also makes for overwhelm, stress, and eventual self-loathing. Months go by (sometimes years) and the big, hairy, audacious goal remains just that -- a goal -- not a completion. The antidote? A renewed vision of what success looks like. Focus. Priorities. A game plan. A support team. And the day-by-day effort required to work the plan.

Bring your current, most fascinating project to mind? Now imagine that your efforts are totally successful. What does success look like? And how did you get there?

50 Awesome Quotes on Vision
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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:15 AM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2017
A Great Brainstorming Technique

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Click here for a very lucid description of one of the most popular brainstorming techniques on planet Earth. Easy to remember. Easy to use. Easy to facilitate. A great way to spark creative thinking in your future ideation sessions. Brought to you by the extraordinary Chuck Frey -- long time aficionado of creative thinking, innovation, and business growth.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:35 PM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2017
The Good Thing About Bad Ideas

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One of the inevitable things you will hear at a brainstorming session is "there are no bad ideas." Not true. There are plenty of bad ideas. Nazism, for instance. Arena football. Bow ties.

What well-meaning "keep hope alive" brainstorming lovers really mean is this: Even bad ideas can lead to good ideas if the idea originators are committed enough to extract the meaning from the "bad".

Do you think that War and Peace was written in one sitting? No way. There were plenty of earlier drafts that were horrid, but eventually led to the final outcome.

The key? Finding the value in what seems to be a "bad idea" and then using that extracted value as a clue or catalyst for further exploration. The following technique, excerpted from Awake at the Wheel, shows you how...

HOW IT WORKS:

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1. Identify a challenge worth brainstorming.

2. Conjure up a bad idea in response to it.

3. Tell someone about your bad idea.

4. Ask the other person to express something redeemable about your bad idea -- an aspect of it that has merit.

5. Using this redeemable essence as a clue, brainstorm some new possibilities

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:59 AM | Comments (13)

August 16, 2017
Are You an Idea Addict?

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There are lots of things in this world people get addicted to: alcohol, nicotine, heroin, sex, and iPhones, just to name a few. But perhaps the biggest addiction of them all is the addiction to our own ideas. Here's how it works:

We think something up. We feel a buzz. We tweak it, we name it, we pitch it, and POOF, the addiction begins.

At first, like most habits, it's a casual pursuit with a thousand positive side effects: increased energy, renewed focus, and a general feeling of well-being. Like wow, man. But then... we think about it in the shower. We think about it in the car. We think about it when people are asking us to think about other things. We even dream about it.

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Soon we want everyone to know about it. We want them to feel the buzz. We want them to nod in agreement. We want them to recognize just how pure our fixation is.

If this is where it ended, it wouldn't be that big of a deal. I wouldn't be calling it an addiction. Maybe I'd be calling it an "inspiration," or a "commitment" or a "visitation from the Muse." But it doesn't end there. It goes on and on and on and on -- often to our own detriment.

If you are launching a new, creative venture, of course, you want to onjure up cool ideas. That's a good thing. But if you cling to ideas just because they're yours, or just because you've invested major time and energy into in them, then it's time to take a good look of what "intoxicating ideas" of yours it might be time to let go. Commitment is one thing. Addiction is quite another.

What hot, new idea of yours might you be just a little bit too addicted to?

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:20 PM | Comments (2)

August 12, 2017
The Idiot Savant's Guide to Emergency Ideation Under Ridiculous Time Constraints

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OK. Here's the deal. You are a PR, Marketing, or Communications firm and one of your clients has just asked for the impossible. Again. They need killer ideas from you within the next 48 hours. Maybe sooner. Your team is scattered to the four winds, you have no time to run a brainstorm session, and your anxiety level is through the roof.

What to do? Here's what to do:

1. Call your client immediately and get absolutely clear about their need. If they give you some kind of generic request, hold their feet to the fire and them to state their request in the form of a question, starting with the words "How can we?"

2. Find out if their so-called deadline is actually real or some kind of hallucination fueled by stress and too much caffeine.

3. Ask your client for the criteria by which they will evaluate the ideas you will be submitting.

4. Write a brief. Keep it brief.

5. Hand deliver the brief to each member of your team. If this is impossible, email it to them with the subject line reading: "STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND READ THIS NOW!" Tell them exactly what you need from them and by when.

6. Schedule a brainstorm session with anyone on your team within walking distance, even if it's just one person. Do this out of the office if possible.

7. Take 15 minutes to generate another wave of cool ideas by using Idea Champions' Free Genie tool.

8. In the next 10 minutes, jot down as many ideas as you can think of in response to your client's challenge. Do not censor yourself. Write everything down. Even the stupid ones. Especially the stupid ones.

9. Circle your favorite idea and "LCS" it. Note what you LIKE about it and what your CONCERNS are. For each concern, note SUGGESTIONS that will handle those concerns.

10. Pitch your favorite idea to one of your teammates. Ask them to LCS it. Then ask them to pitch you an IDEA and you LCS their idea.

Read this
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And this

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:21 AM | Comments (0)

August 11, 2017
The Perception of Ideas as Problems

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Here's something I've been noticing lately:

Business leaders and managers tend to respond to the introduction of a new idea not as an imminent solution to be nurtured, but as a new problem to deal with. Ideas, one would think, would be welcomed, especially by an organization's movers and shakers talking the talk about innovation.

But all too often a company's leaders, time-crunched and overloaded as they are, perceive the introduction of a new idea as simply "more work" for them to do, the early warning sign of too many emails to read, more meetings to attend, more requests for funding, and more conflicting opinions.

Perhaps this is why so many managers respond to the articulation of a new idea with knee jerk naysaying instead of heartfelt open-mindedness. And you wonder why innovation in your organization is so sluggish...

What can you do to reframe the way you perceive ideas being pitched to you on the job -- from "problems" to "opportunities?"

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:05 AM | Comments (1)

August 10, 2017
Brainstorm Training Reinvented

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We could tell you how awesome our brainstorm facilitation training is, but we're not sure you would believe us. So here's what one of our favorite clients has to say about it -- the fabulous folks from Mirrorball. And, if you don't believe them (since they are one of our favorite clients), how about these people?

02.jpg"At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, Mitch Ditkoff's ability to quickly and effectively teach my colleagues and me how to facilitate brainstorming sessions changed the future of our business. We went from being viewed by our clients as their agency to being respected as essential teammates that help them arrive at BIG IDEAS. I can't wait to learn more from Idea Champions. So many good things to come!"-- Mandy Kalajian, Vice President

stephen_papageorge.jpg "My coworkers and I spent exactly eight consecutive hours with Mitch Ditkoff of Idea Champions. The learnings from that session instantly changed the way we run our ideation sessions -- both internally and externally with our clients. The techniques and processes we learned from Mitch were beyond enlightening and have already garnered exponential returns. And speaking for a business that's fueled on creative thinking, I can think of no better investment of our time." -- Steve Papageorge, Creative Director

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"The skills that Mitch taught our group have been invaluable and have changed the way that we do business both externally and internally. Mitch strengthened our ability to lead brainstorm sessions, ensuring that we are asking the most valuable questions, creating the proper environment, and building an agenda of techniques that will best elicit our clients' insights and ideas. The techniques he taught us have also been built into our internal brainstorms. The LCS technique has single-handedly changed the way that we approach ideas that we may have had an initial negative reaction to. We are true believers in the power of effective brainstorming, and plan to continue investing in these skills as a company!" -- Hillary Daniel, Cultural Programs Director

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:58 AM | Comments (0)

August 01, 2017
Watch These Videos If You Want to Foster a Culture of Innovation

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If your organization (or any department, therein) is interested in establishing a culture of innovation, you may want to take a few minutes now to view the following brief (less than 8 minutes each) videos on the topic. The intention to raise the bar for innovation is, indeed, a noble one, and I applaud you for taking on the challenge. That being said, the effort required to achieve any kind of measurable results needs to be well-considered before jumping in with both feet.

Cultivating a Culture of Innovation
Organization Do Not Innovate. People Innovate.
The Six Sides of the So-Called Box
The Seed of Innovation Moment
The Dark Side of Innovation Initiatives

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:59 AM | Comments (1)

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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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 at Work
Storytelling at Work is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling in business – why it matters and what you and your organization can do to leverage the impact of storytelling in the workplace.
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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
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High impact certification training that teaches committed change agents how to lead groundbreaking ideation sessions
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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.
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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.
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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.
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