January 21, 2018
MICRO LEARNING for Innovators (in just 15 minutes per week)

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Innovation is a huge topic in organizations these days. Every company is looking for new and better ways to do more with less, differentiate themselves from the competition, and unlock the hidden genius of their workforce.

At the same time, many organizations are budget-constrained. Flying in an outside consultant to lead a workshop or training can sometimes be cost prohibitive. This I understand.

Which is precisely why my company, Idea Champions, is now offering Jump Starting Innovation, a cost-effective way to stir the innovation soup -- a virtual, self-organizing, just-in-time way to increase everyone's ability to be a proactive innovator on-the-job. And it only requires 15 minutes per week.

TOPICS INCLUDE: Culture of Innovation, Creative Thinking, Idea Generation, Brainstorm Facilitation, Storytelling, Leadership, Mindset, Teamwork & Collaboration, Meeting Mastery, Listening & Feedback, Problem Solving, and Employee Engagement.

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HOW IT WORKS:

1. You and I have a 15-minute phone conversation about WHY you want to raise the bar for innovation and creativity in your organization.

2. Based on your needs, I create a customized Jump Starting Innovation curriculum for you -- a landing page of links to 52 engaging articles and videos of mine on the topic.

3. Each week, for the next year, you forward one link to your team (or whatever part of your workforce is participating in the program.)

4. Participants read/view the link in preparation for a weekly meeting (real-time or virtual) that you or one of your surrogates facilitates. All you need to reserve on your agenda is 10 minutes for the innovation topic. NOTE: This is micro-learning, not head-banging.

5. You (or your designated meeting moderator) facilitates the innovation-topic-of-the week conversation. This deepens the learning, ensures accountability, quickens the sharing of best practices, sparks creative thinking, and establishes a robust, intrinsically motivated learning community.

OPTION #1: I send you a simple "Moderator's Guide" that includes powerful, conversation-starting questions for each of the 52 topics in the curriculum. Helps ensure that your weekly innovation-sparking conversations are as effective as possible.

OPTION #2: I participate on your launch call to help you set the context, inspire participation, and answer any questions people might have about the value, purpose, and process of the program.

OPTION #3: At TBD intervals, throughout the year, you invite me to facilitate one of your online meetings/trainings.

FEE: $1,500 for an annual license.

WHO CREATED THE PROGRAM? Mitch Ditkoff, Co-Founder of Idea Champions, Author of the two award-winning winning books on innovation and storytelling. Creator of a wide variety of storytelling workshops and keynotes. Innovation Blogger of the Year, two years running. Master storyteller. His clients.

Interested? email Mitch today: mitch@ideachampions.com

Our clients
What they say
Our workshops and trainings
One of our micro-learning partners

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:02 AM | Comments (0)

January 20, 2018
A DIFFERENT KIND OF WAY TO CLOSE A SALE

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Anyone who owns a business, whether they've been to business school or not, knows one thing: You need customers. No customers, no business. How you get customers, of course, is the question.

In my business, one of the main ways to get business is responding to RFPs -- requests for proposals. Here's how it works: a company hears about you, checks out your website, contacts you, schedules a call, tries to figure out if you're the real deal and, if you pass their sniff test, asks you to submit a proposal.

In the beginning of my career, I would get very excited whenever anyone asked me to submit an RFP. It meant I had a big one on the line, a horse in the race, my hat in the ring, or whatever other metaphor I could conjure up to reinforce my belief that I was actually going to make a living. Like a beanie wearing college freshman, I dove into the proposal writing process with great zeal.

In time, however, responding to RFPs made me cranky. I came to learn that only one in ten proposals would make the grade and that the other nine, which I had so diligently crafted, were merely my response to bogus fishing expeditions from the client. Either they had already decided on their vendor, were testing the waters, wanted to get free insights, or were merely on the hunt for the low cost provider.

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So when MTV Networks called, I was betwixt and between. Do I play the game and spend the better part of my day writing a proposal or do walk my talk and do something different?

Since I'd already done some work for MTV, I decided the time was right to experiment, so I asked myself a question: "How can I radically reduce the time it takes me to write a proposal that gets results?" The answer came quickly -- the TWO WORD proposal. In 200 point type, I wrote the words "TRUST US" with an asterisk after the "S" -- and, at the bottom of the page, in 8 point type, noted our fee. That was it. Two words and a bottom line.

On the day my proposal was due, I walked into the office of MTV's CFO, Jim Shaw. After the ritual chit chat and cup of coffee, he asked me if I had the proposal.

"Yes, I do, Jim. But first let me ask you a question. 'Do you get a lot of proposals?'"

He laughed, pointing to a huge stack on his desk.

"And do you like reading proposals?"

Jim looked at me as if I had asked him to stick forks in his eyes.

"Good!" I said. "Then there's a good chance you will love my proposal. But in order to give it to you, I need to get further away from you."

And with that warning, I began backing away across the room. When I got as far away as possible, I stopped and held my proposal in the air.

Even from across the room, Jim could read my two words: TRUST US! Smiling, he beckoned me forward, took the proposal from my hands, lowered his eyes to the bottom line, and extended his hand.

"You got a deal," he said.

Two words in big bold type and a bottom line. That's all it took. Two minutes. Not two hours.

FOR YOUR REFLECTION: "We have 60,000 thoughts per day," said Deepak Chopra. "Unfortunately, all of them are ones we had the day before." That's how most human beings roll. Creatures of habit, we find a groove and stay in it until it becomes a rut. Then it's so deep, we have a hard time getting out of it, so we decorate our walls with Dilbert cartoons and pictures of our last vacation.

Sometimes, we need to do something different. Will this "something different" work every time? No, it won't. But it will work sometimes. My two-word proposal was the perfect thing for MTV. It wouldn't have been the perfect thing for a new client or the IRS, but for MTV it got the job done.

NOW WHAT? Think of a proposal, pitch, or presentation you need to make in the next few weeks. On one side of a piece of paper, write down all the reasonable things you can do to get the gig. Then, on the flip side, write down all the unreasonable things -- new approaches, new ideas, and new ways to make your case. After you write your first wave of unreasonable approaches, write your second wave. Then pick one of them and go for it. Inspiration for you.

Excerpted from Storytelling at Work.
Idea Champions
Mitch Ditkoff

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:13 PM | Comments (0)

January 18, 2018
Micro-Learning for Storytellers

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Time-crunched as you are, I know you have no time to read this. But you are and I am glad for that. Because this brief blog post is intended for people like you with no time -- especially people looking for a simple way to leverage the power of storytelling in their organization.

I'm not going to sell you on the power of storytelling. You already know it's powerful. What you don't know is how to make it real in your organization. I know how to do that. That's what my Micro-Learning for Storytellers service is about. And all it takes is 15 minutes a week.

What you will get is 52 weeks of my content (i.e. videos, podcasts, stories, and articles) to distribute to your workforce one bite-sized piece of wisdom at a time. Mind openers. Thought starters. Tips. Tools. Techniques. Guidelines. And just enough inspiration for people to make the effort they need to become storytelling masters on the job. Or in the class. Or wherever.

WHO AM I?: Mitch Ditkoff, President of Idea Champions, author of the award-winning Storytelling at Work and the forthcoming Storytelling for the Revolution. My clients.

Intrigued? Email me today with the word STORYTELLING in the subject line: mitch@ideachampions.com and I will get back to you with more details.

Micro-Learning for Innovators
Photo: Clark Tibbs, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:46 AM | Comments (0)

January 15, 2018
The Creative Personality

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Here's an informative and inspiring article on the creative personality by the lifelong creativity researcher, renowned author of Flow (and the man with the hardest last name to pronounce in the world) -- Mihaly Csikzentmihalyi.

The aforementioned Professor C. offers deep insights into the complex and often polarized personality of creative people. Recognize yourself in any of his descriptions?

Awake at the Wheel
The Creative Mind Keynote
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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:42 PM | Comments (0)

January 12, 2018
100 Reasons Why You Definitely Won't Read This Blog Post

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I know you have no time. YOU know you have no time. I know you're not gonna do anything you don't wanna do. YOU know you're not gonna do anything you don't wanna do. We both know you're not going to read this blog post. It's too long and you have more important things to do.

What follows are 100 other reasons why you won't read this blog post.

1. You don't want to.
2. You're late for a very important date.
3. You can't think of a way to monetize the experience.
4. You don't like blog postings with clever, little titles.
5. You don't know how to read.

6. You have to go to your health club to work off last night's two margaritas.

7. Someone stole your identity and you don't know who you are.

8. You've got to walk the dog.

9. You are wary of any list longer than ten.

10. Something is beeping just a few feet away from you, but you can't seem to find it.

11. It's none of my business.

12. You have to get to the airport (bathroom... meeting... dry cleaners... grocery store... movie theater).
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13. You just had three shots of tequila and when you read the title you thought it said, "50 Seasons You Won't Seed the Post Toastie."

14. You're obsessing about cash flow.

15. You've got to check your kid's Facebook messages again -- especially after reading last night's really rude ones from those 497 FB friends you've never met.

16. You're out of range.
17. You're out of time.
18. You're out of money.
19. You're out of your mind.
20. You're out of excuses.

21. Anytime anybody comes off as seeming to know what you will do or won't do, you immediately do the opposite, (but you're wise to me and realize that you'd be playing into my hands by doing the opposite, so you are not reading this, which, by the way, was exactly what I predicted.)

22. You associate lists like this with superficial feature stories in Vogue or Redbook.

23. You realize that the entire universe is an illusion.

24. You need a break.

25. You took a break and now you're broke.

26. You have ADD or the latest medical condition invented by the pharmaceutical industry to sell you more drugs your health plan won't cover.

27. You have an acute case of blogitis.

28. You'd rather tweet.

29. You're late for your session with your therapist.

30. Your therapist would rather tweet.

31. You've got to check your Match.com page to see if anyone wants to go for a long walk with you on the beach.

32. You've got to change your e-Harmony profile. You haven't gotten an email from anyone in weeks.

33. You're thinking of starting your own business.

34. You're thinking of starting your own blog.

35. It's time to meditate.

36. You have an undeniable need to eat chocolate, but can't find anything in the house. Wait a minute! What about that Baker's Chocolate on the back shelf?

37. The oil spill has reached your front door.

38. You're too busy complaining to anyone who will listen about Facebook's privacy policies or lack thereof.

39. You're trying to find out how you can get a free 15-day trial to my new, online creative thinking tool.

40. These two bloggers walk into a bar.

41. Anyone here from Cleveland?

42. You're waiting for this posting to come out as a YouTube video.

43. You've only got two minutes left of battery life and if you don't book a cheap flight to Chicago, you're screwed.

44. You're certain it's all part of a vast right wing conspiracy.

45. Your wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/mother/father/kids are on your case for spending too much time on the computer.

46. You're in the Federal Witness Protection Program and are convinced someone will track you down for reading this.

47. The tea kettle is whistling.

48. You're trying to figure out if the Isle of Langerhans is in the Carrribean or your pancreas.

49. You're waiting for your assistant to bring you the Executive Overview.

50. You're waiting to be important enough to have an assistant.

51. You're waiting for Godot.

52. You're a waiter and your shift starts in ten minutes.

53. The BIG GAME is on.

54. You're suspicious of anything that can't be reduced to 140 characters.

55. You're still counting hanging chads.

56. You live in New York City and have to move your car to the other side of the street.

57. It's not part of your 12-Step program.

58. Even though you had that fabulous laser surgery on both your eyes, you can't seem to find your new, inexpensive reading glasses.

59. You've just figured out how much it's going to cost to send your kids to college.

60. The Ambien's kicking in.

61. A Jehovah's Witness is at your door.

62. The pizza guy is at your door.

63. You suddenly realize you didn't order pizza.

64. Maybe it's a serial killer at your door -- not exactly the perfect time to be reading 100 reasons why you won't read this.

65. The moon is in Aquarius.

66. Your mind is in the gutter.

67. You're downloading free iPhone apps you will never use.

68. You're trying to figure out what Apple's next product that begins with "I" will be (I-Give-Up?, I-Matey?, I-Coulda-Been-A-Contenda?).

69. It's been five minutes since you've logged onto Facebook.

70. Karma.

71. You think blogging is a fad.

72. Nostradamus didn't predict it.

73. It's not in the Bible.

74. Just because.

75. You're a big fan of Sarah Palin.

76. You read my last list of 100 things and you figure that one list of 100 from someone named Ditkoff is enough.

77. You're not as open to possibility as you think you are.

78. See # 61.

79. You just got pulled over by a state trooper who saw you about to read my blog while doing 55 mph in a hospital zone.

80. You weren't breast fed.

81. You were thinking about the need your company has to establish a sustainable culture of innovation -- the kind that would make it much easier for everyone to bring the best of their innate creativity to the table on a daily basis.

82. There's something about blogs that put you off. I mean, don't these people have anything better to do?

83. Your boss is standing in the doorway, arms folded, frowning, as if to say, "Back to work, slacker. We've got a business to run!"

84. You're feeling a compelling need to find someone who can teach you how to run kick-ass brainstorming sessions.

85. Someone's on Line 2.

86. You think there must be some kind of marketing campaign behind this and I'm probably gearing up to sell you something you don't need -- and even if you did need it, clicking this link would end up getting you a whole bunch of emails that have nothing to do with your real interest (which is to read the next item on this fabulous list of 100 reasons why you won't read this fabulous list). I rest my case.

87. You've just been acquired by Google.

88. You figure that anyone who would bother writing a list of 100 reasons why you wouldn't read the list he wrote is either insane, unemployed, or your brother-in-law.

89. BTW, if you know of a good publisher who would be interested in publishing my next book, Wisdom at Work, contact me in the next 11 seconds.

90. You live on an asteroid.

91. Your hemorrhoids are acting up.

92. You've heard it said that reading long blog postings written by total strangers leads to the "harder stuff."

93. You're afraid of commitment. Always have been.

94. You haven't read my book yet.

95. You have more important things to do. (Then again, you always say that.)

96. You really need to get back to writing your screenplay.

97. Someone just mentioned you look a lot like Johnny Depp and you've got to find an agent fast.

98. You majored in economics.

99. Bottles of beer on the wall.

100. You're waiting for the results of the focus group.

But you MIGHT read my book
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A pope, a rabbi, and a penguin walk into a bar

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:06 PM | Comments (10)

January 09, 2018
Skillset vs. Mindset

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Yesterday, as one of my clients introduced me to a roomful of people attending a leadership development programs, something she said caught my attention: Innovation skills. That's what she was telling the 41 business leaders of the future they were going to learn from me.

Yes, it was true. I was going to help these people become more skillful at innovating. But that was only half the story. Actually, less than half. Much less.

If there's one thing I've learned these past 28 years of working as an innovation provocateur, it's this: mindset -- not skillset -- is the name of the game in business these days.

When a person's mindset (i.e. receptivity, curiosity, adaptability, enthusiasm, focus) is in the right place, skillset becomes secondary.

Is acquiring new skills useful? Of course it is. If you're about to have surgery, you want to know the doctor with the scalpel knows what he's doing. But all the skills in the world become useless if the mind of the physician is cloudy.

I'm talking attitude. Viewpoint. Approach. Not what you look at, but what you see. Psychologists have boiled down the phenomenon to three words: "Motivation affects perception".

If you're driving through a town and are hungry, what do you see? Restaurants. If you're running out of gas, it's gas stations you notice. And if someone you love is dying, you become suddenly amazed at how many funeral parlors there are. In other words, when a pickpocket meets a saint, all he sees are pockets.

Bottom line, if you want to jump start innovation -- in your self, in your team, or your company, begin paying more attention to mindset. Be willing to make the effort required to help yourself and others enter into the frame of mind most conducive to innovating. Because in the end, it's less about where you're going, than where you're coming from.

What can YOU do, on the job, to keep yourself in an innovation mindset?

Idea Champions
MitchDitkoff.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:35 PM | Comments (0)

January 06, 2018
5 Ways to Raise the Bar for Storytelling in Your Organization

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If your organization is looking for an engaging, flexible, cost-effective way to raise the bar for storytelling in the workplace, I'm your man. Below are five ways I can help you stir the storytelling soup:

1. WORKSHOPS
- Creating the Innovation Mindset
- Storytelling at Work

2. KEYNOTES:
- Scroll down to the third keynote

3. WISDOM CIRCLES
- Small group storytelling gatherings
- Train the Trainer also available

4. MICRO-LEARNING:
- Short blasts of online innovation-sparking content,
- A yearlong curriculum of my original content (52 links)
- Can be focused on storytelling or include 11 other topics
- Learn more

5. MY STORYTELLING BOOKS
- Storytelling at Work (bulk discounts available)
- Storytelling for the Revolution (to be published in May)

MitchDitkoff.com

My clients

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

January 04, 2018
How to Be More Creative

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Most people agree that creativity (and it's twin brother, innovation) is a good thing. Accordingly, they want to know how they can become more creative or more innovative. Makes sense, right? The question, however, is a tricky one, not unlike asking "How can I have a good marriage?" or "How can I become a better human being?" There are hundreds of answers and often different strokes for different folks.

Bottom line, there is no blueprint, no follow-the-dots instructions in this realm. That being said, there are time-tested guidelines and principles which, when honored, will increase your chances of increasing your creativity and innovation.

Below are 25 of these principles for your consideration. No doubt, you are already skillful in some of them. Congratulations! But there may be others that are not your strong suit. Those are the one you will need to pay more attention to. Ready? Here goes:

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1. Ask yourself WHY you want to become more creative: If you don't know the answer to this question, the rest of the guidelines that follow will be nothing more than fairy dust. In other words, what's in it for you? Why make the effort to become more creative? Why do you care about this topic?

2. Realize you already are creative: Most of us are subject to the myth that only some people are creative or in a "creative profession." Writers, artists, and filmmakers get lots of points for being creative, as opposed to accountants, tax auditors, and engineers. This is not true. Everyone is creative. The only thing is that sometimes our creativity gets obscured by years of funky habits, programming, and conditioning. Then, the thought "I am not creative" rules the day and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Psychologists tell us that a human being is most creative at the age of five. After that, it's a slow and steady decline into conventionality. From your perspective, what are the characteristics of a five-year old and how can you bring more of those to bear on the job?

3. Identify what blocks your creativity: When Michelangelo was asked how he made his iconic statue, The David, he explained, "I simply took away everything that wasn't." To him, the statue was already in the stone. All he needed to do was remove everythingin the way. This is a good question for you to ask in regard to your efforts to become more creative. What is in your way? What is blocking your creativity? And what can you do to remove or, at least, diminish these factors, on the job?

4. Remember a time when you were creative: All of us have had times in our life when our creativity was flowing. The conditions were ripe for us to do our best thinking/creating. What was that time in your life? What were the conditions that made the expression of your creativity easier than usual? And what can you do to bring more of these conditions to bear on the job?

5. Define what you mean by "creative": If you Google the phrase "Definitions of Creativity", you will find 53,900,000 entries. "Creativity" means different things to different people. What does it mean to you? What is your operational definition of creativity? (Click here for 14 definitions to spark your effort to come up with your own working definition).

6. Identify a project, goal, or vision you want to be creative about: If you don't have a project that inspires you enough to apply your creativity to, your effort to become more creative will be vague, at best. You need to have some skin in the game. What is the project you would most like to infuse with a renewed dose of creativity? (HINT: The most effective way to do this is to frame your challenge, problem, or opportunity in the form of a question that begins with the words "How can I?" or "How can we?")

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7. Immerse: Creative people, no matter what their field or expertise, have the ability to dive in and stay with a project for long periods of time. They don't just hit and run. Instead, they become completely absorbed in their effort and it is often their state of absorption that is their secret sauce. That's why Einstein said, "It's not that I'm so smart. It's just that I stay with problems longer." How can, you, in the next three months create the time to immerse in your hottest, new project?

8. Reframe failure: Creative people are less afraid of making mistakes than most people. They realize that creativity is a volume business -- that many experiments are needed and that trial and error comes with the territory. When Thomas Edison was asked how it felt to fail 800 times before coming up with tungsten as the filament for the light bulb, his reply said it all: "Fail? I didn't fail once. I learned 800 times, what didn't work." How can you and your team launch more experiments? How can you embrace failure more than you currently do?

9. Identify and go beyond your limiting assumptions: Often, the suppositions or conclusions that we make at the beginning of a project are completely fictitious, a function of our past experiences, false beliefs, and expertise. Creative people have a knack for being less bound by limiting assumptions than most people. This state of open-mindedness allows them to proceed in ways that open up vast new territories to explore. What might your biggest limiting assumptions be about your most exciting project? What can you do to go over, around, or through these assumptions?

10. Stay inspired and fascinated: I know of very few depressed or despondent people who are consistently creative. And while it's true, that creative people can sometimes get depressed or despondent, they don't dwell in that place for very long, realizing that their mindset is one of the keys to their success. What are three ways you can stay inspired and fascinated about your hottest, new venture?

11. Ask WHAT IF (and other powerful questions): Creative people have a unique ability to go beyond the status quo. One way they do that is by asking powerful questions -- questions that challenge the status quo and open up totally new horizons. The simplest question to ask in this regard is "What if?" What aspects of your work, these days, might benefit from asking "what if?"

12. Make connections between seemingly disparate elements: One of the qualities of a creative thinker is the ability to synthesize -- to see new kinds of connections between this, that and the other thing. What is MTV? Simply the connection between music and television. Drive-in banking? The connection between cars and banking. The Bloody Mary? Vodka and tomato juice. Most of us are so much "in our boxes" that we too infrequently connect A + B to get C. Tunnel vision has a hold of us. What intriguing new connections do you see in your life? How can you combine two seemingly unrelated variables to create a new product or service or better way of doing business?

13. See through others' eyes: One of the biggest obstacles to creativity is our odd little habit of viewing everything through our own eyes/lenses/filters. Addicted to our own point of view, we tend to be constrained by our habitual ways of perceiving the world. The simplest way to free yourself from this constraint is to look at your problem, project, or opportunity through the eyes of someone else. What if Willie Nelson was responsible with solving your problem? Stevie Wonder? Rosa Parks? Thomas Edison? How would any one of these people go about it? And what clues do you get from their approach?

14.Pay attention to your subconscious: Many brilliant ideas come to people off line, in dreams, or in surprise moments when they are not trying to figure things out. What happen is this: the conscious, problem-solving part of our mind hits a wall and gets stuck. That's when the problem gets turned over to the subconscious mind. (But only if we deeply committed to the project). That's how Elias Howe's invention of the lock stitch sewing machine happened. And that's how Rene Descartes came up with the Scientific Method. And that is what Seymour Cray, the inventor of the Cray Supercomputer attributed his success to -- the ability to walk away from a problem and let his subconscious mind do the work. Where and when do you get your best ideas away from work? And what can you do to be more mindful of ideas that come to you in those situations?

15. Suspend logic and linearity: Most of us think deeply. We like to problem solve And, more often than not, we are very rational beings -- so called "left-brainers." Not that there is anything wrong with that... but there are times, in the creative process, especially in the beginning, when too much logic and linearity get in the way. There is a right-brain, too, that need to be exercised -- the associative, playful, non-rational side of our mind. How can you suspend logic and linearity at the beginning of a new project? In what ways can you allow more time to consider the non-logical?

16. Trust your instincts, intuition, and hunches: Albert Einstein once said, "Not everything that counts can be counted; and not everything that can be counted, counts." Indeed, he used to conduct what he called thought experiments, a fancy name for daydreaming, whenever he got stuck and needed a breakthrough. Simply put, he trusted the intuitive part of himself more than most of us. What are your instincts and intuitions telling you about a project you are currently working on? How can you trust these instincts and intuitions more than you normally do?

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17. Entertain the fantastic: Gary Kasparov, the former Soviet Union Grand Chess Master, had the ability to strategize 26 moves ahead. But when, in 1989, he was asked what enabled him to beat Big Blue, IBM's mainframe computer, in a two game chess match, he attributed his success to "the ability to fantasize" -- to be able to make a quantum leap of thought. Einstein, too, was a big proponent of fantasizing and is famous for having said "the ability to fantasize has meant more to me than my ability to absorb positive knowledge." How can you make more time to dream big?

18. Collaborate: Some people assume that creativity is the result of a lone wolf genius inhabiting some kind of ivory tower and returning to the "marketplace" with an extraordinary insight or breakthrough. And while this sometimes happens, it is mostly a myth. Often, creativity is informed by the so-called lone wolf genius being in relationship to people -- i.e. jamming, brainstorming, talking, and getting feedback. This kind of variable input has the potential to spark all kinds of insight and ahas. The challenge for most of us? To stay in dynamic relationship with each other, especially since the logical, left-brain, problem-solving part of us usually wants to be left along to "figure things out." How can you increase the amount of creative collaboration in your life? Who might you ask to join forces with you this week to develop a new idea or possibility?

19. Have fun: This just in! The words "aha" and "haha" are very much related. In the aha moment, the person with the epiphany ends up surprised, in some way, about a given outcome. He/she is dislocated from their assumptions, i.e. Archimedes in the bathtub and Newton under the apple tree. The "haha" moment is similar. Indeed, the reason why most of us laugh is because our expectations and assumptions have been disrupted by the storyteller or comedian. This surprise moment sparks an involuntary reaction called "laughter." Creativity and humor are joined at the hip. Get too serious and too sober and you diminish the odds of creativity flourishing. In what ways can you infuse your work environment with more humor and playfulness?

20. Look for happy accidents: Do you know what penicillin, vulcanized rubber, Post-It Notes, and Velcro have in common? They were all the results of "accidents in the lab." They were not planned. There were not the result of a brainstorming session or a strategic plan. They showed up unannounced. But instead of being dismissed as a mistake, the innovators associated with these discoveries, got curious. They paid attention. And they played around with this so-called mistake until they discovered its commercial value. Research indicates, in fact, that 75% of all product and service breakthroughs are the results of serendipity, surprise, and happy accidents. What have you been noticing in your life that others may have dismissed as a mistake or failure, when, in fact, it might be the clue you have been looking for?

21. Change environments: Sometimes, the simplest way to spark creativity when you are feeling stuck or stale is to get out of the office and change environments. Socrates knew this. That's why he invented his "Peripatetic School of Education" -- a way to "walk the talk." Indeed, that's why many people get their best ideas during or after exercising. Where can you go, to refresh and renew yourself, whenever you are feeling stuck, on the job?

22. Be comfortable with ambiguity: Creating something new is not a function of an algorithm or a sequential process. It often requires a lot of time spent not knowing or being confused or not having all the answers. This is why Tom Peters, innovation provocateur, likes to say that "innovation is a messy business." Yup. It is messy. And frustrating. And non-linear. And it often requires time in the chaos zone. It comes with the territory with creating something new. If you are not mindful of this phenomenon, you will likely grab onto the "first right idea" just to diminish your discomfort. This is not a good idea. In what ways can you stay with ambiguity longer than you usually do when working on a challenging project?

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23. Acknowledge your progress:
Creating something new is often a frustrating phenomenon. Results don't always come quickly. As a result, we sometimes get discouraged and enter into a curmudgeonly, skeptical, cranky mindset. We lose our inspiration. The simplest way to neutralize this phenomenon is to take a few minutes at the end of each day to pause and acknowledge whatever progress you have made that day, no matter how small. You can do this alone or you can do this with your team. Think of one project of yours that has been especially frustrating. What progress have you made on this project today?

24. Give and receive feedback: Sometimes, aspiring innovators are on the right track, but their addiction to "being right" gets in the way. What they need to do in order open up the floodgates of creativity is get feedback from their peers. All too often, however, we interpret feedback as "criticism", so we are not open to it. Ouch! In what ways can you get more feedback from your peers on the job?

25. Honor the Polarities: People aspiring to become more creative, especially those who are time-crunched, would love there to be some kind of blueprint or map. Guess what? There is none. It doesn't exist. And even if it did exist, it would most likely include contradictory directions. That's because the act of "being creative" is often a contradictory process. That's why Niels Bohr, the Nobel-prize winning physicist, once said: "Now that we have met with paradox, we have some hope of making progress." To the creative person, their process is not either/or. It's both. "Everything has its season" is their mantra. Below is a short list of some classic contradictions/paradoxes that creative people experience. Any of them familiar?

- Patience/impatience
- Solitude/collaboration
- Urgency/relaxation
- Seriousness/playfulness
- Divergence/convergence

What other contradictions/paradoxes do you experience in your own creative process? And what can you do to honor them more than you currently do?

Jump Start Creativity
Idea Champions
MitchDitkoff.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:13 AM | Comments (0)

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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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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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