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 here. 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 conjure 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.

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

August 13, 2017
The Samurai Guide To Managing Difficult Clients (and actually having a life)

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You are smart. You are creative. You are committed. And you have an awesome grasp of social media. Of course you do, you are a mover and a shaker in a hip, fast-moving, millennial-driven PR and Marketing firm. You are also going slightly insane.

Why? Because your clients routinely make insane demands on you, expecting miracles with very little notice. Part of you actually enjoys this phenomenon, given your fascination for big challenges and the ever-present potential to become heroic. Another part of you does not enjoy this phenomenon, often feeling like the deck is stacked against you. And guess what? It is -- not just because your client (older, higher paid, more experienced) is constantly disregarding the fact that you have a life outside the workplace, but because this kind of client-driven behavior, unfortunately, has become the norm these days.

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Is there as way out of this madness? Yes there is. And it has everything to do with how you manage your clients. True, there is no formula or algorithm for how to do this, but it can be done. Yes, it can -- all modulated through your own particular style and your client's personality.

For starters, here are ten simple guidelines. Pick one and begin.

TEN SIMPLE WAYS TO BETTER MANAGE YOUR CLIENTS

1. Help your client translate their over-the-top request into a question that begins with the words "How can we?" The effort to frame a pressing challenge in the form of a "How can we?" question will open up the conversation, reveal hidden challenges for the two of you consider, and cut to the chase in an elegant, time-efficient way.

2. Get your client to describe their vision of success. The clearer your clients are about what their "hoped for outcomes" are, the more you will understand what's really required to get results.

3. Establish clear agreements and protocols at the beginning of the relationship. Let your clients know what you can do and what you can't do -- what you will do and what you won't. There will likely be a little voice in your head wondering if this will "fly" with the client. Relax. It will. In fact your client will respect you more for clarifying your boundaries.

4. When asked for a super-quick turnaround of a project, let your client know what you are able to deliver and what you are not able to deliver in the time frame requested. Let he/she know what the trade-offs are. Once your client becomes knowledgeable about the downsides of such a quick turnaround, he/she will be more likely to extend the deadline.

5. Speak the truth. If you know a particular request is impossible to fulfill in the time allotted, say so -- and offer an alternative fall back date. Even an extra day or two on a project can make all the difference in the world.

6. Be sure to ask "by when" your client needs the deliverable. Poke at the so-called deadline. Often, a client's request "by yesterday" means "a week from now," or "by Thursday", not "tomorrow." Don't assume your client's anxiety or lack of planning means you have to work all weekend.

7. Ask your client for the names and contact numbers of key people on their team (or in their company) -- resources you can contact on a moment's notice, especially when your client is unavailable.

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8. Practice "reflective listening" -- sometimes known as "checking for understanding." This is simple to do. For example, if your client makes a request of you at 4:59 pm on Friday (or any time, for that matter), restate your understanding of the request, i.e. "If I understand you correctly, you are asking my team and I to launch a new viral video for your company no later than tomorrow morning -- one that will get 10 million views by Monday. Is that accurate?" If it is (and you agree), at least you know what your mission is. If it's not (or gives your client pause), the two of you will be able to make some last-minute adjustments to your marching orders.

9. Realize that pushing back and saying "no" is not the same thing as being "negative." Your goal is to create a collaborative relationship, not an abusive one. You want to be a partner, not a slave -- a consultant/advisor, not a whipping boy or girl.

10. Feel free to give your clients feedback, not just head nods. Unfortunately, very few people know how to give feedback in a meaningful, effective, non-threatening way. And so they say nothing. Not a good idea. One feedback format you might consider using is called LCS. It takes only a few minutes, sometimes less. Here's how it works.

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

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.

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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...

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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 05, 2017
50 Awesome Quotes on Vision

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1. "If you can dream it, you can do it." - Walt Disney

2. "Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, and magic and power in it. Begin it now." - Goethe

3. "The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it." - Michelangelo

4. "It's not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?" - Henry David Thoreau

5. "You don't lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case." - Ken Kesey

6. "If you want to build a ship, don't herd people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

7. "Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside awakens." - Carl Jung

8. "The empires of the future are empires of the mind." - Winston Churchill

9. "Vision is the art of seeing things invisible." - Jonathan Swift

10. "Management has a lot to do with answers. Leadership is a function of questions. And the first question for a leader always is: 'Who do we intend to be?' Not 'What are we going to do?' but 'Who do we intend to be?' - Max DePree

11. "Vision without action is a daydream. Action with without vision is a nightmare." - Japanese Proverb

12. "The best way to predict the future is to create it." - Alan Kay

13."Where there is no vision the people perish." - Proverbs 29:18

14. "Vision without execution is hallucination." - Thomas Edison

15. "Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality." - Warren Bennis

16. "If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise." - Robert Fritz

17. "Create your future from your future, not your past." - Werner Erhard

18. "To the person who does not know where he wants to go there is no favorable wind." - Seneca

19. "You've got to think about big things while you're doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction." - Alvin Toffler

20. "To accomplish great things we must dream as well as act.: - Anatole France

21. "A possibility is a hint from God. One must follow it." - Soren Kierkegaard

22. "A leader's role is to raise people's aspirations for what they can become and to release their energies so they will try to get there." - David Gergen

23. "The very essence of leadership is that you have a vision. It's got to be a vision you articulate clearly and forcefully on every occasion. You can't blow an uncertain trumpet." - Theodore Hesburgh

24. "Determine that the thing can and shall be done and then we shall find the way." - Abraham Lincoln

25. "Dreams are extremely important. You can't do it unless you can imagine it." -George Lucas

26. "Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements." - Napoleon Hill

27. "Pain pushes until vision pulls." - Michael Beckwith

28. "Vision animates, inspires, transforms purpose into action." - Warren Bennis

29. "The master of the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which; he simply pursues his vision of excellence in whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both." - Buddha

30. "Rowing harder doesn't help if the boat is headed in the wrong direction." - Kenichi Ohmae

31. "It's not what the vision is, it's what the vision does." - Peter Senge

32. "In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield." - Warren Buffett

33. "A leader will find it difficult to articulate a coherent vision unless it expresses his core values, his basic identity. One must first embark on the formidable journey of self-discovery in order to create a vision with authentic soul." - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

34. "The best vision is insight." - Malcolm Forbes

35. "You have to know what you want. And if it seems to take you off the track, don't hold back, because perhaps that is instinctively where you want to be. And if you hold back and try to be always where you have been before, you will go dry." - Gertrude Stein

36. "The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge." - Albert Einstein

37. "I try to learn from the past, but I plan for the future by focusing exclusively on the present. That's were the fun is." - Donald Trump

38. "Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world." - Arthur Schopenhauer

39. "People only see what they are prepared to see." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

40. "The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision." - Helen Keller

41. "Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion." - Jack Welsh

42. "A vision is not just a picture of what could be; it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more." - Rosabeth Moss Kanter

43. "If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants." - Isaac Newton

44. "The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious." - John Scully

45. "If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours." - Henry David Thoreau

46. "Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

47. "Looking up gives light, although at first it makes you dizzy." - Rumi

48. "You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." - Mark Twain

49. "In order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles." - - David Ben-Gurion

50. "The real voyage of discovery consists of not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:34 PM | Comments (6)

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)

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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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