October 31, 2017
Why Business Leaders Need to Pay More Attention to Storytelling

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Here's why -- spoken as clearly as possible in a 60-minute radio interview, hosted by Dr. Wanda Wallace, Founder of the Leadership Forum. In the interview, Wanda and I cover a lot of ground, including how storytelling can change team and corporate culture for the better. If you curious about how storytelling can be used, as a business tool to spark more teamwork, innovation, and engagement, this one's for you.


About me
My storytelling keynote
My book on storytelling
My innovation and storytelling workshop

"The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller." - Steve Jobs

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)

October 28, 2017
Launching a Powerful Project in the World is a Team Sport

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For the moment, let's say you are on the cusp of launching a bold new project in the world -- one that not only inspires you, but is the first thing you talk about whenever people ask you what you're up to these days. You know: Your life's work. Your calling. What moves you.

Congratulations! I am super happy for you, especially since all of us need meaningful projects we can throw our whole selves into. Well done! Awesome! Rock on!

That being said, there is one thing I urge you to keep in mind as your project unfolds. Innovation is a team sport.

While the origination of a powerful new idea or initiative is often an individual experience, implementing that idea requires a truckload of collaboration. Maybe two truckloads. Or three. And that, unfortunately, is where a lot of wonderful, new projects break down -- especially projects that require committed, responsible volunteers.

The reasons are many, but they fundamentally boil down to this:

1) Lack of a clear vision by the idea originator: 2) Inability to communicate that vision to others; 3) Lack of a clear strategy/game plan; 4) Relationship/control issues; 5) Lack of a clear decision-making process; 6) Unclear roles and responsibilities; 7) Funky communication (including poorly facilitated meetings).

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Knowing you have precious little time to read my rant, I am going to cut to the chase and list ten key "best practices" for you to consider employing as you move forward with your beautiful, inspired, much-needed project. Ready?

1. Get super clear about your vision and be able to communicate it in 60 seconds or less.

2. Attract a core team of trusted collaborators to you -- your so-called "inner circle" who you can jam with, vent to, and get honest feedback from.

3. Do a deep dive with your core team, so you get everything on the table, i.e. WHY each person wants to participate, what skills they bring to the project, your expectations -- and theirs -- of their participation, the specific roles you are inviting people to take on, and what your team's operating agreements will be.

4. Allow your original BIG IDEA to morph, via the input of your core team and other people who will be attracted to your project. HINT: Even though YOU started it, everyone involved needs to treat it like their own. If not, they will end up feeling disengaged or disempowered.

5. Get early feedback on your idea from a diverse group of people. It is easy to get so intoxicated with our ideas that we become blind to their flaws.

6. In collaboration your core team, conjure up a Version 1.0 of a game plan -- a not-yet-cut-in-stone strategy for moving forward. This will inform your need for volunteers, funding, and resources. It will also lower your stress.

7. Define the roles and responsibilities that need to be filled by still-to-be enrolled volunteers. And, when you invite people to participate, make sure you give them a written description of the roles you are asking them to play.

8. Find ways to keep everyone, on the team, updated, informed, and acknowledged for all the efforts they are making.

9. Clear the air quickly, whenever there is a breakdown with anyone on the team.

10. Make sure your meetings are well-designed and facilitated. Always begin with some "personal check in" time and some soulful conversation about WHY this project has the potential to make a huge difference.

Launching Project Teams
Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:07 PM | Comments (0)

Innovation from the Inside Out

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These days, almost all of Idea Champions' clients are talking about the need to establish a culture of innovation. Some, I'm happy to report, are actually doing something about it. Hallelujah! They are taking bold steps forward to turn theory into action.

The challenge for them is the same as it's always been -- to find a simple, authentic way to address the challenge from the inside out -- to water the root of the tree, not just the branches.

External systems and protocols, no matter how seductive they are to create, are simply not sufficient to guarantee real innovation. In the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes, "Systems die. Instinct remains."

This is not to say that organizations should ignore systems and structures in their effort to establish a culture of innovation. They shouldn't. But systems and structures all too often become the Holy Grail -- much in the same way that Six Sigma has become the Holy Grail.

Unfortunately, when the addiction to systems and structures rules the day, an organization's quest for a culture of innovation degenerates into nothing much more than a cult of innovation.

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Organizations do not innovate. People innovate. Inspired people. Fascinated people. Creative people. Committed people. That's where innovation originates -- from deep within the inspired individual who understands that his/her sustained effort is what's required to go beyond the status quo.

The organization's role -- just like the individual manager's role -- is to get out of the way. And while this "getting out of the way" will undoubtedly include the effort to formulate supportive systems, processes, and protocols, it is important to remember that systems, processes, and protocols are never the answer. They are the context, not the content. They are the husk, not kernel. They are the menu, not the meal.

Ultimately, organizations are faced with the same challenge that religions are faced with. Religious leaders may speak passionately about the virtues their congregation needs to abide by, but sermons only name the challenge and remind people to experience something -- they don't necessarily change behavior.

Change comes from within the heart and mind of each individual. It cannot be legislated or evangelized into reality.

What's needed in organizations who aspire to innovation is an inner change. People need to experience something within themselves that will spark and sustain their effort to innovate -- and when they experience this "something," they will be self-sustaining.

They will think about their projects in the shower, in their car, and in their dreams. They will need very little "management" from the outside. Inside out will rule the day -- not outside in. Intrinsic motivation will flourish.

People will innovate not because they are told to, but because they want to. You can create all the reward systems you want. You can reinvent your work space until you're blue in the face. You can license the latest and greatest idea management tool, but unless each person in your organization OWNS the need to innovate and finds a way to tap into their own innate brilliance, all you'll end up with is a mixed bag of systems, processes, and protocols -- the husk, not the kernel -- the innovation flotsam and jetsam that the next administration or next CEO or next key stakeholder will mock, reject or change at the drop of a hat if the ROI doesn't show up in the next 20 minutes.

You want culture change? You want a culture of innovation?

Great. Then find a way to help each and every person in your organization come from the inside out. Deeply consider how you can nurture, and develop the primal need all people have to create something extraordinary.

What is the simplest thing you can do, today, to spark innovation on your team?

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:58 AM | Comments (10)

October 17, 2017
Bottom Up Innovation!

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If you are working with a team of any kind and are hoping for more innovation, know this: it's a function of "intrinsic motivation", not pep talks, carrots, sticks, or "new initiatives." Find out what people REALLY want to do and, assuming it is aligned with your organization's vision, give your blessings and get out the way. Will every bottom-up effort work? Of course not. But some will. Go ahead. Roll the dice. Empower people to make some magic!

Illustration: gapingvoid
Idea Champions
MitchDitkoff.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:06 PM | Comments (0)

October 15, 2017
What Some Consultants See That Leads to Them Getting Fired Or Never Hired in the First Place

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"They are playing a game.
They are playing
at not playing a game.
If I show them
I see they are,
I shall break the rules
and they will punish me.
I must play their game,
of not seeing I see the game."

-- R.D. Laing

Idea Champions

Bridging the Gulf
Listening with Impact
Becoming an Adaptive Leader

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:12 AM | Comments (0)

October 12, 2017
What It Really Means to Be a Chief Innovation Officer

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Some sound advice here, from the Harvard Business Review, on what it takes to be a successful Chief Innovation Officer.

Idea Champions
A workshop for innovation leaders
The Current Reality Check Up

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:35 PM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2017
The NBA's new MVP

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And that would be... drum roll please... Mike Kennedy -- the NBA's Associate Vice President of Talent and Learning.

Read more about Mike's leading edge work here, as well as the NBA's renewed commitment, under Commissioner, Adam Silver, to be a robust, learning organization that is as much "on their game" off the court, as they are on.

And just in case you're assuming the article in Chief Learning Officer is some kind of puff piece, it's not. As one of the 40 vendors Mike has brought in to deliver workshops to the NBA's rising leaders, I know, from first-hand experience that Mike is the real deal: super-smart, creative, committed, authentic, funny, and a true team player. I'm not sure if Mike can dunk, but he's definitely got game.

About me
About my company

ME AS A 17-YEAR OLD HIGH SCHOOL POINT GUARD

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My other clients
What my clients say
Mike chose one of Idea Champions' workshops to bring to the NBA

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:14 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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