January 19, 2020
13 Awesome Quotes on Planning

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"A goal without a plan is just a wish." -- Antoine de Saint Exupery

"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe." -- Abraham Lincoln

"Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential." -- Winston Churchill

"No matter what the work you are doing, be always ready to drop it. And plan it, so as to be able to leave it." -- Leo Tolstoy

"Pray to Allah, but tie your camel." -- The Prophet Muhammed

"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." -- Benjamin Franklin

"If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else." -- Yogi Berra

"The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining." -- John F. Kennedy

"It's takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan." -- Eleanor Roosevelt

"Plan for what is difficult while it is easy. Do what is great while it is small." -- Sun Tzu

"A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow." -- George S. Patton

"Many people spend more time in planning the wedding than the do the marriage." -- Zig Ziglar

"All human plans are subject to ruthless revision by Nature, or Fate, or whatever one preferred to call the powers behind the Universe." -- Arthur C. Clarke

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:46 AM | Comments (0)

January 17, 2020
The Three Keys to Becoming a Masterful Brainstorm Facilitator

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As a former student of the martial arts, I have noticed a curious phenomenon in corporate America that is becoming increasingly troubling to me -- especially among "creatives" who aspire to become masterful brainstorm facilitators. I call it the "Bruce Lee Syndrome" or perhaps more correctly, the "I-Took-a-Karate-Lesson-at-My-Local-Shopping-Mall- and-How-Come-I-Still-Can't-Break-a-Brick-Yet" syndrome?

Well-meaning business movers and shakers expect that learning a new creative thinking technique is all they need to spark brilliance in a roomful of people. Not true. Not even close to being true.

While learning a technique is a good beginning, it is only a beginning. What's needed to leverage the power of any creative thinking technique -- no matter how cool the technique might be -- is practice.

A Karate Master can explain to you how he breaks a brick with a single punch. He can even demonstrate it to you. But that doesn't mean you will be breaking bricks in the next minute or two. Or even the next year or two. For that to happen, you will need to practice.

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Practice is the key. Learning from experience. Trial and error. And, more than occasionally, feeling like you have taken on an impossible task.

What I have noticed in the people I have trained to become skillful brainstorm facilitators is that they fully expect to be getting great results the first time they use a technique. Not a good idea. First of all, it's totally unrealistic. Second of all, it puts too much pressure on the student to perform at a high level too quickly. And third of all, it increases the likelihood that the aspiring brainstorm facilitator will prematurely dismiss the technique as faulty when, in fact, it's not the technique that is faulty, but the application of the technique by the novice student.

All of this, of course, is exacerbated by the fact that everyone in the business world is so time-crunched these days that unless results show up immediately, they're on to the next technique... or next consultant... or next magic pill.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you are committed to eliciting brilliance in others and want to master the art of facilitating highly effective brainstorm sessions, you will need to practice. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but that's the deal. We're not talking Trump University, folks, or learning how to make a fortune by watching a late night infomercial. We're talking walking the long and often unglamorous path of practice, practice, practice.

Which brings up an interesting question: how best to practice?

Know this: there is no one right way to practice. There are many ways to practice. The best way is the way that works for you. But to get the party started, here are ten choices for your consideration.

1. Pick some low risk situations for you to try out the new techniques you are learning. At home? With friends? With other students of the technique?

2. Take a few minutes after each time you use a technique to reflect on how it went. Ask yourself what you LIKED about it's application, what CONCERNED you, and what SUGGESTIONS come to mind for how you might improve your use of the technique the next time you do it.

3. Watch other people facilitate the technique and see what you can learn from their approach.

4. Ask the people who participate in your brainstorm sessions to give you feedback. Find out what worked for them and what didn't.

5. If you have a coach, teacher, or mentor (assuming you didn't just google "brainstorm techniques"), check in with him/her from time to time and continue exploring the nuances of the techniques. A single word, phrase, or suggested tweak can make all the difference.

6. Deconstruct the technique. Notice the beginning, the middle, and the end of it and see if there are ways you might improve your execution of any of those.

7. Invent your own techniques -- especially ones that fascinate you. If you are the inventor of the technique, your ownership of it will skyrocket and you will be far more likely to make the effort required to perfect it.

8. Debrief with other brainstorm facilitators in your company. Get together from time to time and share your experiences. Getting a new perspective is one of the simplest ways of developing mastery.

9. Offer your services for free, outside of work, to a non-profit, group of friends, or community organization. They get the benefit of your facilitation. You get the benefit of practice!

10. Make your practice fun! If it feels like drudgery, you will bail out way too soon. Remember the words of hockey great, Wayne Gretzky: "The only way a kid is going to practice is if it's total fun for him... and it was for me."

Oh, wait, I just remembered the name of this blog post was the THREE KEYS to becoming a masterful brainstorm facilitator and I have only given you ONE. My bad. Sorry. Please accept my apologies. Here are the other two:

2. Practice
3. Practice

Online brainstorm facilitation training
Idea Champions
Brainstorm Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:38 AM | Comments (0)

15 Awesome Quotes on Collaboration

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1. "It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed." - Charles Darwin

2. "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." - Helen Keller

3. "If two men on the same job agree all the time, then one is useless. If they disagree all the time, both are useless." - Darryl F. Zanuck

4. "If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself." - Henry Ford

5. "Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

6. "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." - Isaac Newton

7. "It takes two to speak the truth -- one to speak, and another to hear." - Henry David Thoreau

8. "If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas." - George Bernard Shaw

9. "Politeness is the poison of collaboration." - Edwin Land

10. "I never did anything alone. Whatever was accomplished in this country was accomplished collectively." - Golda Meir

11. "It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed." - Napoleon Hill

12. "No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helped you." - Althea Gibson

13. "The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team." - Phil Jackson

14. "Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success." - Henry Ford

15. "The lightning spark of thought generated in the solitary mind awakens its likeness in another mind." -- Thomas Carlyle

Got others? Lay them on me!

This post is dedicated to Ramsey Margolis

Team Innovation workshops

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:27 AM | Comments (2)

January 14, 2020
Online Brainstorm Facilitation Training for the Time-Crunched

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In honor of the year 2020 and the classic meme it represents (i.e. clear vision), Idea Champions is thrilled to announce the launch of an exciting new offering -- an elegant way for its time-crunched, innovation-leaning clients to upgrade the impact of their brainstorming sessions.

We call it Ideation 2020 -- the simplest, most time-efficient way we can think of to help our clients become masterful brainstorm facilitators.

Bottom line, we've distilled down the best of what we've learned during the past 25 years of facilitating creative thinking sessions for these organizations, and translated it into a series of live, online 20-minute modules. No off-sites required. No two-day training sessions. No bad hotel muffins.

And because we know our clients have different needs, we offer four different options:

BRONZE: 5 modules ($2,500)
SILVER: 10 modules ($3,500
GOLD: 15 modules ($4,500)
PLATINUM: 20 modules ($5,500)

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If 20 minutes at a clip doesn't work for your organization, you can bundle modules together, making the duration of each of your online trainings either 40 or 60 minutes.

PS: Idea Champions is not the first company to offer training in bite-sized chunks. Indeed, there is a long history of this approach and it has proven to be very effective: Micro-Learning.

IDEATION 2020 TRAINING INCLUDES:

1. Five Conducting Genius workbooks
2. A free lifetime subscription to Free the Genie
3. Five decks of Free the Genie cards
4. Micro-Learning for Innovators
5. One hour of phone coaching from your Conducting Genius trainer
6. No limit to the number of people who participate (a flat fee!)
7. Online poll ("The State of Brainstorming in Your Company")

THE PROCESS FROM HERE:

1. A 20-minute phone conversation to explore the possibilities
2. Decide on how many modules you want (5, 10, 15, or 20)
3. We agree on a schedule of trainings (1-5 times per week)
4. We email you a Letter of Engagement for your signature
5. The training begins

Client testimonials
More client testimonials

IF YOU PREFER ANOTHER STYLE OF TRAINING

-- The Idiot Savants' 90 Minute Brainstorm Facilitation Training
-- Online Micro-Learning for Brainstorm Facilitators
-- Our 1-3 day onsite Conducting Genius training

CONTACT US:
info@ideachampions.com
845.389.9096

Also on the Idea Champions website
What PR firms say about our brainstorm facilitation training

Illustration: Sidney Perry, Unsplash

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:11 PM | Comments (0)

January 13, 2020
A 90-Minute Online Brainstorm Facilitation Training

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Let's start with a few assumptions: 1) You are a "change agent," facilitator, or team leader; 2) Your organization's brainstorm sessions are lame: 3) You want to upgrade your brainstorm facilitation skills; 4) Your budget is tight; 5) You cringe at the thought of taking 1-3 days off to attend a training.

If this describes you, keep reading.

Idea Champions, a recognized world leader in the field of brainstorm facilitation training, is now offering a 90-minute online training -- a distillation of the very best of what we've learned, since 1987, leading creative thinking sessions for these organizations.

What can happen in 90 minutes? Enough for you get to the next level of brainstorm facilitation mastery, especially since the design for your 90-minute training will be customized, based on your current skill set, experience, and learning needs.

Client testimonials
What PR and Marketing Firms Say About Our Training

WHAT YOU RECEIVE IN ADDITION TO A 90-MINUTE TRAINING

1. Our 142-page workbook
2. An online subscription to Free the Genie
3. A deck of our Free the Genie Cards
4. Micro-Learning for Innovators
5. One hour of post-training coaching

Your next step? A 20-minute phone call with the Founder and President of Idea Champions, Mitch Ditkoff, in order for you to determine if our 90-minute online training is a good fit for you.

CONTACT: info@ideachampions.com

What to send decision-makers who doubt the value of brainstorming

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:17 PM | Comments (0)

January 07, 2020
GUY KAWASAKI on The Top Ten Mistakes of Entrepreneurs

This is absolutely brilliant! Fantastic content, authentic delivery, entertaining, and provocative. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur, this is required viewing. But even if you're not trying to raise venture capital, you can still learn a lot from Guy simply by tuning into the way he makes his pitch. And his Art of the Start is a treasure.

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:26 PM | Comments (0)

January 06, 2020
Why Don't More People Share Their Best Practices with Each Other?

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If you are a member of a team, business, school, or volunteer organization, there's a good chance you want whatever project you are working on to succeed. Yes? Towards that end, you work hard, think hard, generate ideas, go to meetings, fight fires, and (hopefully) learn from your mistakes. If you are like most people, you sometimes get together with your team and talk about ways to increase your odds of success.

Still, there's a good chance you may be overlooking one of the simplest, most effective ways to make progress -- and that is the sharing of best practices.

"Best practices", a much written about topic in the business literature, is really nothing more than a two-word euphemism for "what works" -- the efforts you and your colleagues make that are already contributing to your success. The good stuff.

Curiously, however, "best practices" are rarely shared in most organizations and, even when they are, they are not shared effectively. Why? There are ten main reasons.

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TEN REASONS WHY BEST PRACTICES ARE NOT SHARED

1.Command and Control: The leaders of most enterprises, even if they won't admit it, aren't really committed to people sharing their ideas with each other. It sounds strange, but it's true. Why does this phenomenon exist? Because ideas, freely shared, often end up "rocking the boat." Old ways of doing things get challenged. The status quo gets confronted. New possibilities need to be considered, evaluated, and funded. Or not funded. More emails abound. More opinions. More disagreements. More meetings. Cranky-inducing stuff.

2. No Clear, Compelling Vision of Success: If people, working on same project, aren't on the same page about WHY they are working together and WHY they get out of bed in the morning, it is unlikely that they will be motivated enough to go beyond the "same old, same old" syndrome. Without a clear, compelling vision to motivate them beyond the call of duty, many people end up just going through the motions. Rote takes precedence. Old habits rule. Mediocrity prevails.

3. No Sense of Interdependence:
People will not take the time to share their insights, ideas, and best practices with each other if there is no recognition of the need to collaborate. If teamwork is not a clearly articulated (and reinforced) organizational value, there will be very little chance that the people doing the work are going to make the effort to connect with each other.

4. Lack of Trust and Appreciation: People may recognize the need to collaborate with each other, but they may not like or trust each other. It takes effort to reach out to other people -- especially people who are different than you. Sometimes, it's a risk, especially for introverts. Plus, if people are working in remote locations, in different time zones, the degree of difficulty increases. Without trust and a genuine appreciation for the perspective of others, best practices will rarely, if ever, be shared.

5. No Clarity About What a Best Practice Is: If you ask me to bring a tuna fish sandwich to a meeting, I can do that. But if you ask me to bring a "best practice", who knows what you'll get. If you want best practices to be shared in your organization, be very clear about what you are asking people to communicate.

6. No Intention. No Agreement. No Buy-In: It's fine to generically request people to share their best practices, but unless your request is understood, honored, and owned. it's just fairy dust. People are busy. People are maxed. You asking them to do one more thing will likely be met with head nods at best. So, if you want to make this best practice sharing thing real, you will need to make the effort to build a case for it and give people a chance to commit to it from an authentic place.

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7. Fear of Judgment: Some people have a truckload of best practices to share, but they are sometimes concerned that other people may not think their best practices are so hot. Or, if they've done something they think is truly innovative, they may be concerned that others will judge them for not asking permission or going one bridge too far. The result? They clam up and keep things to themselves.

8. The Perception of Lack of Time:
Face it. We live in an ADD world. Even the fact that you have read this far is astounding. If a person thinks they have no time, there is very little chance they are going to say YES to a "best practice sharing process" that will take some time -- even if the process, itself, will yield ideas that will save them time and radically increase their odds of success.

9. Lame Listening: The sharing of best practices requires two things: someone to speak and someone to listen. Most of us, of course, would rather speak than listen. If you and your team are committed to sharing what you are learning with each other, make sure that listening -- real listening -- is baked into the process.

10. No Platform: Sharing best practices with other people requires some kind of communication method or platform. If your team does not have a reliable way to share what they are learning, it's doubtful they will. What platform might work best for your team? Group skype calls? One-on-one phone calls? Monthly meetings? Email? A Facebook Group? An end-of-the-year conference? A blog?

What other obstacles would you add to the above list? But more importantly, what can YOU do in the next seven days to jump start the process of the team you work most closely with sharing their best practices with each other?

Idea Champions
MitchDitkoff.com
Micro-Learning for Innovators

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

January 03, 2020
The Perfect Online Brainstorm Facilitation Training for MCI Group

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In honor of the year 2020 and the classic meme it represents (i.e. clear vision), Idea Champions is thrilled to announce the launch of an exciting new offering -- an elegant way for its time-crunched, innovation-leaning clients to upgrade the impact of their brainstorming sessions.

We call it Ideation 2020 -- the simplest, most time-efficient way we can think of to help our clients become masterful brainstorm facilitators.

Bottom line, we've distilled down the best of what we've learned during the past 25 years of facilitating creative thinking sessions for these organizations, and translated it into a series of live, online 20-minute modules. No off-sites required. No two-day training sessions. No bad hotel muffins.

And because we know our clients have different needs, we offer four different options:

BRONZE: 5 modules ($2,500)
SILVER: 10 modules ($3,500
GOLD: 15 modules ($4,500)
PLATINUM: 20 modules ($5,500)

TimeMirrors4.jpg

If 20 minutes at a clip doesn't work for your organization, you can bundle modules together, making the duration of each of your online trainings either 40 or 60 minutes.

PS: Idea Champions is not the first company to offer training in bite-sized chunks. Indeed, there is a long history of this approach and it has proven to be very effective: Micro-Learning.

IDEATION 2020 TRAINING INCLUDES:

1. Five Conducting Genius workbooks
2. A free lifetime subscription to Free the Genie
3. Five decks of Free the Genie cards
4. Micro-Learning for Innovators
5. One hour of phone coaching from your Conducting Genius trainer
6. No limit to the number of people who participate (a flat fee!)
7. Online poll ("The State of Brainstorming in Your Company")

THE PROCESS FROM HERE:

1. A 20-minute phone conversation to explore the possibilities
2. Decide on how many modules you want (5, 10, 15, or 20)
3. We agree on a schedule of trainings (1-5 times per week)
4. We email you a Letter of Engagement for your signature
5. The training begins

Client testimonials
More client testimonials

IF YOU PREFER ANOTHER STYLE OF TRAINING

-- The Idiot Savants' 90 Minute Brainstorm Facilitation Training
-- Online Micro-Learning for Brainstorm Facilitators
-- Our 1-3 day onsite Conducting Genius training

CONTACT US:
info@ideachampions.com
845.389.9096

Also on the Idea Champions website
What PR firms say about our brainstorm facilitation training

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:25 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.

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"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.
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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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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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