May 01, 2015
The Four Lenses of Innovation

The Heart of Innovation is happy to present the following guest post from Rowan Gibson, author of the recently published The Four Lenses of Innovation. Enjoy!

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Ever wondered where big, breakthrough ideas come from? How do innovators manage to spot the opportunities for industry revolution that everyone else seems to miss?

Contrary to popular belief, innovation is not some mystical art that's forbidden to mere mortals. It can be just as systematic and methodical as anything else we do in business. And the great news is that we can all achieve it.

In my brand new book "The Four Lenses of Innovation: A Power Tool For Creative Thinking," I debunk the pervasive myths that are holding us back in our ability to innovate. By asking how the world's top innovators -- like Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Elon Musk -- came up with their game-changing ideas, I have identified four key business perspectives or "lenses" that will enable you to discover groundbreaking opportunities for innovation and growth:

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Challenge Your Orthodoxies

Remember, innovators are usually contrarians by nature. They are people who tend to question common assumptions and overturn conventional wisdom inside a company, or across a whole industry. Recall how James Dyson fundamentally reinvented the vacuum cleaner by asking why it needed a bag, and why it couldn't be a sexy design statement instead of the ugliest thing in your home. Or how Tesla's Elon Musk reconceived the electric car by asking why it couldn't be a sleek, high-performance automobile, and why it couldn't be sold exclusively online.

So what if you challenged your own, deeply-held beliefs about the "right" way of doing things? What if you sat down with your team and began to seriously and systematically challenge your deep-seated assumptions about your customers, your offerings, your route to market, your current profit-engines, and your differentiation strategy? What new innovation opportunities might present themselves? How might your business model be radically restructured to bring compelling new benefits to your customers?

Harness Emerging Trends

Innovators are trend-riders. While many companies either underestimate or ignore critical trends and discontinuities until it's too late to exploit them, innovators know how to use the power of change to their own advantage. They pay close attention to nascent developments that have the potential to profoundly impact the future of an industry, or that could be harnessed to substantially alter the rules of the game.

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Consider Jeff Bezos, who saw the oncoming tsunami of e-commerce back in 1994, and rode that giant wave to great success with Amazon.com. Or John Mackey, founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, who caught the health food wave back in the 1970s and harnessed that emerging trend to build his organic retail empire.

Ask yourself: which wave is our company riding? In what fundamental ways will our industry change in the future? Will we be ready for these changes? Will we be driving them? How can we harness these trends to gain a strategic advantage over our competitors? Are we going to ride the next tsunami in this industry, or will we will be washed away by it?'

Leverage Your Resources

Innovators never mentally pigeonhole a company in a particular market sector, or lock it up in a certain product or service category. Rather, they are able to stretch the way they define their business based on its collection of core competencies and strategic assets. Innovators believe that these embedded resources can always be repurposed, redeployed, or recombined to generate new growth opportunities, either adjacent to their current business or far beyond it.

As an example, take Richard Branson, who took Virgin's unique set of skills and assets and leveraged them into a global conglomerate comprising more than 400 different companies in a multitude of diverse market sectors. Or Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who have refused to develop a narrow self-image of Google, choosing instead to expand not just the concept of search but also of Google itself, by stretching into productivity tools, operating systems, hardware, self-driving cars, robotics, and even life extension technologies.

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The lesson for us is that we need to think of a company not in terms of what it is or what it does, but in terms of what it knows -- its skills and unique capabilities -- and what it ownsm such as infrastructure, proprietary technologies, standards, patents, brands, customer data, and so on. What if you redeployed these core competencies and strategic assets in completely new ways, or in new contexts, to open up exciting new growth opportunities for your business?

Identify Unmet Needs

Innovators are empathizers. They know how to "get into the customer's skin." They are able look at things from the customer's perspective, and to intuitively sense -- to feel -- the customer's "pain points". They have a knack for identifying and understanding unmet and perhaps unarticulated needs. And they set out to address these needs by designing innovative solutions from the customer backward.

Did anyone tell Steve Jobs they needed a translucent desktop computer, a cool MP3 player, an online music store, a revolutionary smartphone, an App Store, or a tablet computer? Nope. He somehow knew what we needed before we did. Did anyone ask Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers for a smart, friendly thermostat that could learn and adapt to our behaviors? Nope. The founders of Nest Labs simply set out to identify common human frustrations and then to solve them with intelligent, cool appliances.

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How much do you really know about your customers'unsolved problems, unmet needs, and wants? How deep are you digging in your search for important customer insights? And are you using these insights as the essential basis for imagining new offerings, new marketing strategies, new customer experiences, and new business models? Or is there a disconnect somewhere between your customers' real needs and the ideas and offerings you produce?

The great news is that literally anyone can use these four proven perspectives to unlock their ability to innovate. They represent powerful innovation lenses that enable us to look at the world from completely new angles of view, revealing surprising insights and opportunities that we never saw before -- ideas that were, if you like, "hidden in plain sight." Most importantly, they offer us a "power tool for creative thinking", a way to dramatically enhance our own innate capacity for creativity and imaginative problem-solving by emulating the mind of the innovator.

My new book will help you in your hunt for the next big idea that will shape the destiny of your company. Other books promise the keys to innovation. This one delivers them. With a unique full-color design, 304 pages of thought-provoking examples, and features like my 8-Step Model for Building a Breakthrough, "The Four Lenses of Innovation: A Power Tool For Creative Thinking" will teach you how to reverse-engineer creative genius and make radical business innovation an everyday reality inside your organization.


Image Credits: All images are the copyrighted property of Rowan Gibson and used here with permission. All rights reserved.

Rowan Gibson is recognized as one of the world's foremost thought leaders on innovation. His new book, The Four lenses of Innovation (Wiley), examines the thinking patterns or perspectives that have been catalysts for breakthrough innovation throughout human history, and shows you how to use these perspectives to infuse creativity into your own organization.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:48 PM | Comments (0)

April 10, 2015
The Four Lenses of Innovation

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A wonderful new book on innovation, by Rowan Gibson, THE FOUR LENSES OF INNOVATION: A Power Tool for Creative Thinking, has recently been published by Wiley. Rowan Gibson is the real deal -- a lucid, passionate, creative thought leader in the field of innovation. If you are looking for a simple way to cut through a lot of the ho hum mumbo jumbo about innovation, this book is for you.

Wiley Press announcement
Available on Amazon

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:09 PM | Comments (0)

April 02, 2015
STORYTELLING AT WORK: The Mailing List

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If you would like to receive an email alert when my forthcoming book is published in the Fall, just click this link and write your email address in the space provided. Takes 30 seconds.

Below are a few excerpts from the book, previously published in the Huffington Post.

I'm From Woodstock. Yes, I Am!
Arm Wrestling the CIA
The Afghani Cab Driver


AN EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK

As the story goes, 2,500 years ago, Buddha gave a wordless sermon to his disciples. All he did was hold up a single white flower -- a lotus. That's it. No words. Just a flower. All his disciples were mystified, except, that is, Mahakasyapa, a young monk who immediately smiled, signifying the direct transmission of wisdom from Master to student -- a moment referred to in Buddhist literature as "tathagata", the ineffable nature of suchness.

Something within Mahakasyapa instantly understood the non-verbal essence of what Buddha was communicating. He got it in a flash. No thought was necessary, no analysis, no intellectualization. It was, as if, a veil had lifted and he got to experience something profound that was previously inaccessible to him.

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For want of a better phrase, let's call the young monk's recognition a "moment of truth".

The good news for the rest of us is that a person does not need to be a monk to experience a moment of truth. Nor do all moments of truth need to be "spiritual", historically significant, or worthy of inclusion in future scriptures.

Moments of truth are not only for everyone, but they come in all varieties -- small, medium, and large -- spontaneously occurring, unplanned happenings that have, embedded within them, the potential for great learning, insight, and wisdom. Simply put, a kind of Red Sea parts and a meaningful "lesson" is learned, even if no teacher is present. We all have them, though, like dreams, they are easy to forget, dismiss, or undervalue.

The catalyst for a moment of truth can be anything. For the young monk, it was a flower. For you, who knows? A chocolate bar? A glance from a beggar? Missing a train? A nasty divorce? Getting lost? Being rescued? Almost dying? A dream? A blues song you hear on the radio? It really doesn't matter what, as long as it sparks an inner shift that that moves you beyond old assumptions, habits of mind, and outdated beliefs so you can experience the magic of life in a fresh, new way.

If you deconstruct the stories we tell, you'll soon discover that most of them turn out to be our attempts to give shape to these moments of truth -- our verbal deciphering of a moment, in time (or outside of time) that had great significance for us, even if that moment was invisible to others.

Unspoken, these moments of truth remain hidden, stashed away inside us like buried treasure or unopened love letters. Expressed, especially in the form of story, they uplift, inspire, and empower, pollinating great fields of wisdom -- in yourself, the people you share them with, and the people they share them with. On and on and on it goes, countless moments of truth circulating the planet at the same time, opening minds, opening hearts, and helping awaken us all to a richer, fuller life.

Get an email alert when the book comes out

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:27 PM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2014
The World Is Made of Stories

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My book on this topic will be published in December. Click here if you want to know more about it and help make it happen.
Excerpt from the book

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:20 PM | Comments (0)

May 26, 2013
Crowdsourcing Life Changing Books

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Here's a link to a cool new website devoted to crowdsourcing the ultimate list of life-changing books. You can add a book to the list or you can vote for books that have helped transform your life. Or both. Or neither. At the very least, it's a very good list of inspiring books you may want to consider reading.

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:37 PM | Comments (0)

November 18, 2012
ANNOUNCING: Full Moon at Sunrise

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If you have enjoyed the writing on this blog, you will very likely enjoy the soon-to-be-published book of Idea Champions' Co-Founder and President, Mitch Ditkoff.

Full Moon at Sunrise is not a book about innovation. It's a book of poetry.

Is there a relationship between innovation and poetry? Yes, there is. Both push the envelope. Both are infused with deep feeling. And both open up new realms of human experience.

If you'd like to receive an email alert when the book is published, simply send an email to Mitch (mitch@ideachampions.com) with your request. If you'd like to read some early reviews, click below.

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"In Full Moon at Sunrise, Mitch Ditkoff channels Rumi and Kabir in a 21st century voice. The best poems anchor elation and bliss in the physical world as the poet converses with the Divine like a rabbi from the 4th century writing Midrash. He stumbles closer to God, a modern-day ecstatic seeking to tongue the unspoken in words. Drop everything, read this book!" -- Jennifer Boire

"Compelling, uplifting, a heartwarming treat. More delicious than chocolate!" -- David Passes

"In the timeless tradition of Gibran, Rumi and Hafiz, Mitchell's words reveal that hidden in our ordinary lives, lives a place of extraordinary beauty. Known in silence by few, but available to all." -- Stuart Hoffman

"Mitch Ditkoff is a poet's poet. His deep love and appreciation for the written word is profoundly received through his poetry." -- Steven Ornstein

"You'll find, in Full Moon at Sunrise, the adventure in your heart. Wizards and magic, Sufis and Buddhas, drunken Dervishes, the Great Friend, and perhaps hear whispers of the endless dance between the Master and student. You'll greet old friends, Kabir, Rumi, Moses and Hafiz, touching illuminated hearts, long before speech existed, and catch the fire in children's eyes as they sled down a city hill in the soft rays of a setting winter sun, all speaking of the enchanting moment called Now: Enjoy!" -- Jonathan Lloyd

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:19 AM | Comments (0)

November 01, 2012
Good News! Wisdom at Work!

I am thrilled to announce that a wonderful NYC literary agency, Levine/Greenberg, has just taken me on as a client and will be leading the charge to find just the right publisher for my next book, Wisdom at Work.

Wisdom at Work
is a fresh look at the phenomenon of "moments of truth" on the job, like this one or this one-- extraordinary glimpses of "the real" that show up, unexpectedly, in the midst of ordinary circumstances.

The end game with my book is to launch "wisdom circles" in organizations -- engaging forums that allow employees to share their own wisdom with each other, via the telling of their own remarkable stories. If you want to know when the book will be available, simply enter your email address into the "Our New Book" box on the Idea Champions homepage.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:31 PM | Comments (0)

July 20, 2012
Like This Blog? You'll Love This Book

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I am happy to announce that I have finally gotten off my ifs, ands, or butt and begun writing my next book -- Wisdom at Work. Below are three excerpts. I have also stepped up my efforts to locate an agent and/or publisher. If you are that person or know that person, please contact me. Thank you!

It All Began With Balls
The Martial Arts of the Mind
Big Blues From the Viagra People

My first book.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:45 PM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2012
The Man Who Invented the Wheel

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Since 1986, I've asked more than 5,000 people where and when they get their best ideas. The answers have been all over the place -- everything from "in the shower" to "ironing" to "in my dreams."

But no matter how diverse the answers are, 98% of all respondents say the same thing -- their best ideas happen OUTSIDE of the workplace. I find this fascinating -- especially when you consider how much time we spend at work -- and how much brilliance is expected of us.

That's one of the reasons why I wrote Awake at the Wheel. I wanted to give people a more dependable way to conjure up (and commit to) the kind of meaningful ideas that make a difference in the world.

Listen to a three-minute intro. Read what others have to say about it. Buy one for your boss, spouse, kids, chiropractor, CEO, mother, friend, team, accountant, neighbor, numerologist, or business partner.

PS: The book was a Silver Medalist in the 2009 Axiom Business Books Awards competition (scroll down to category #22).

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:23 AM | Comments (0)

May 07, 2012
Fascination is the DNA of Innovation

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I own a huge library of books on innovation. Mostly hardcover. The $27.95 variety with big indexes and forwards by people who make more money than I do.

Some of these books are actually good. Most of them bore me. (I must confess I have a secret desire, whenever I enter a bookstore, to put glue between pages 187 & 188 in all of the new releases just to see if the publishers get any complaints).

The books attempt to describe the origins of innovation. You know, stuff like "the innate human impulse to find a better way" and "the imperative to find a competitive edge." That sort of thing.

Corporate-speak, in other words.

In my experience, the origin of innovation is fascination -- the state of being intensely interested in something. Enchanted. Captivated. Spellbound. Absorbed.

What kids are naturally good at.

Kids and those mavericks at work who make everyone nervous and running for their spreadsheets at the drop of a hat.

A person who is fascinated does not need to be motivated... or managed... or "incentivized."

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All that person needs is time, some resources, meaningful collaboration, and periodic reality checks from someone who understands what fascination is all about.

That's why Google gives its workforce 20% of their time to explore projects on their own. That's why 3M and W.L. Gore do something similar. They know that the root of innovation is fascination.

If you, or the people who report to you, are not currently in a state of fascination it's time to turn things around. That is, IF you want to spark some innovation.

How do you do this?

For starters, here's one way, excerpted from Awake at the Wheel.

THE SEED OF FASCINATION

1. On a piece of paper, create three parallel headlines -- "What Fascinates Me," "People I Admire," and "What I Would Do If I Knew I Couldn't Fail."

2. Jot down at least five responses beneath each headline.

3. Look for intriguing, new connections between your responses. Any insights? Ahas?

4. Jot down your new ideas.

5. Circle your favorite idea and brainstorm it with a friend. Then pitch anyone who's influence can help you launch your ideas for how to bring more fascinating projects into your work life.

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:24 PM | Comments (7)

March 21, 2012
Don't Let This Happen to You!

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This poor guy just read
the next game changing
business book:
"The Six Habits of the Five Principles
of the Ten Ways
to Be 300% More Effective
While Doing Less
and Having More."

Is it just me, or do you also think
there are way too many
FREAKING BUSINESS BOOKS
these days,
pawning themselves off
as the 12 Irrefutable Laws
about saying the same thing
over and over again
in order for the ghost written author
to one day,
get hefty keynote speaking fees.

Idea Champions

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

August 16, 2011
Greetings from Our Chief Fire Starter

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Greetings! My name is Og, Idea Champions' CFS (Chief Fire Starter). I'm in charge of helping our clients ignite new possibilities.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to let you know that the economic downturn has not, in any way, affected our business. We are absolutely fine. (The desk furniture we're burning for heat makes our office quite toasty).

We realize, of course, that YOUR business may be struggling -- with the market being as volatile as it is and consumer confidence way down.

If so, feel free to call me at 800-755-IDEA. (Now that I have use of both my opposable thumbs, answering the phone has become quite a positive experience). At that time, I'll be happy to explain how we can help your organization raise the bar for innovation.

Or, if you want to get started today, buy our Founder's award-winning book (which is the only book I've seen that gives me the credit I so richly deserve as the inventor of the wheel.) Oh, I almost forgot to mention, I'm available for keynote grunting, bar mitzvahs, and webinars.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:46 AM | Comments (0)

July 31, 2011
The Write Stuff

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I don't usually use this space to promote my friends, but today I'm going to make an exception. My good buddy, Carl Frankel (Princeton graduate, Kingston, NY resident, journalist/writer extraordinaire) has just decided to offer his services as a ghostwriter to movers and shakers and I want you to know that.

Carl has written extensively on a number of subjects and is the author of two books -- Out of the Labyrinth and In Earth's Company -- a book, that according to one reviewer, "took the literature on sustainable development to a new level."

As an editor, Carl played a major role in shaping a book that won a national book award.

If you have a story to tell or ideas to share, Carl's your man. He brings more than three decades' experience to the table as a journalist, writer, and entrepreneur, provides great value, is easy to work with, and cuts to the chase with elegance.

I strongly encourage you to consider working with Carl to share your story with the world.

CONTACT: carlfrankel@gmail.com

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:25 PM | Comments (0)

April 14, 2011
It's Never Too Late to Create

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I sometimes run into people who tell me that their best creative days are behind them -- that they could have accomplished great things if only they had started sooner and that they are "too old" to take on a big, hairy project.

Really?

Think again.

If you have any doubt, click on the link below to get a whiff of what some extraordinary people accomplished late in life.

You may not be a Michelangelo or Stradivarius, but so what? You can still accomplish miracles. All you need to do is begin (and let go of the bogus thought that "it's too late.")

It's not.

1. Grandma Moses started painting when she was 64.

2. Michelangelo designed the dome in St. Peter's Basilica between the ages of 72-88.

3. Stradivarius fashioned his two most famous violins when he was in his early 90's.

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4. Mary Baker Eddy established the Christian Science Monitor when she was 87.

5. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Guggenheim Museum when he was 91.

6. Mahatma Ghandi successfully completed negotiations for Britain to grant India's independence at the age of 77.

7. Golda Meir serviced as Prime Minister of Israel from the ages of 70-76.

8. Peter Drucker wrote "Management Changes for Turbulent Times" when he was 89.

9. P.T. Barnum joined forces with his arch rival, James Baily, when he was 71.

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10. Nelson Mandela was inaugerated as the President of South Africa at the age of 75.

11. Noah Webster published "An America Dictionary of the English Language" at the age of 70.

12. Giuseppe Verdi composed his operatic masterpiece, Falstaff, at the age of 80.

13. Pablo Picasso produced a remarkable sereis of 347 etchings at the age of 86.

All examples excerpted from The Creative Age by Gene Cohen. Great book.

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Idea Champions
First Breath, Last Breath

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:53 PM | Comments (0)

Beer and the Invention of the Wheel

You may not know it, but I wrote an award-winning book in 2008, Awake at the Wheel. It's a business fable about the creative process. Easy to read. Fun. A real support for aspiring innovators.

I'm guessing the caveman in the Bud Lite ad below would have found a better way of getting their beer to the party if they had read it.

But enough about me. Let's talk about YOU.

Do you have a creative venture that needs an infusion of mojo, inspiration, and clarity?

Yes? Good. Click. Buy.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:22 PM | Comments (0)

October 11, 2010
Americans Obsession With Numbers

Here is a wonderful article by Rupert Cornwell on American's obsession with statistics -- or what Charles Seife, NYU Professor, has deftly named "proofiness" -- "the art of using bogus mathematical arguments to prove something that you know in your heart is true -- even when it's not."

Charles and Rupert are in good company. Approximately 9 out of 10 innovation consultants would agree.

So did Albert Einstein several years ago when he proclaimed: "Not everything that counts can be counted; and not everything that can be counted counts."

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Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:35 PM | Comments (1)

July 21, 2010
Top 100 Amazon Reviewer Favorably Compares "Awake at the Wheel" to "Who Moved My Cheese?"

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Nice review of my book from Thomas Duff, Top 100 Amazon reviewer:

Awake at the Wheel: Getting Your Great Ideas Rolling (in an Uphill World) can, in my opinion, be compared to the classic "Who Moved My Cheese?".

Ditkoff does for creativity what Johnson and Blanchard did for living with change... It gives the reader a short, humorous story loaded with meaning and concepts that hit the reader right where they live.

Ditkoff explores the world of ideas and creativity though the story of Og. Og is a caveman who spends more time thinking than the average Neanderthal.

He stumbles upon the concept of a circle, and becomes obsessed with what it could mean to the group. Of course, most of his fellow cavemen are more concerned about maintaining the status quo... hunting, eating, staying warm.

Og takes a journey to talk with a wise one, and from that trip the wheel is born.

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But even then, others in his clan are more interested in shooting it down as something that will never work. But one person does figure out the practical application, and pretty soon everyone is "rolling along" with the greatest thing since dried mammoth...

I really did like this book.

Taking the concept of ideas and putting them in caveman terms freshens up what could be just another book on creativity.

At the end of the book are 35 "tools" you can use to spur your own idea machine, as well as how best to make sure these fleeting thoughts don't disappear like smoke from a campfire.

Like many companies have done with "Cheese", this should be a mass purchase, handed out toall employees, and then discussed in team meetings.

Those who are into this genre will love it, and the Neanderthals who are cynical will likely spend the 30 minutes or so it should take to read it.

And they might even come out of that experience as the new Og of your organization.

What others are saying about it.

Winner of Axiom Business Book Award:
(scroll to category #22)

Buy the book

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

Top 100 Amazon Reviewer Favorably Compares "Awake at the Wheel" to "Who Moved My Cheese?"

awake-book-cover2.jpg

Nice review of my book from Thomas Duff, Top 100 Amazon reviewer:

Awake at the Wheel: Getting Your Great Ideas Rolling (in an Uphill World) can, in my opinion, be compared to the classic "Who Moved My Cheese?".

Ditkoff does for creativity what Johnson and Blanchard did for living with change... It gives the reader a short, humorous story loaded with meaning and concepts that hit the reader right where they live.

Ditkoff explores the world of ideas and creativity though the story of Og. Og is a caveman who spends more time thinking than the average Neanderthal.

He stumbles upon the concept of a circle, and becomes obsessed with what it could mean to the group. Of course, most of his fellow cavemen are more concerned about maintaining the status quo... hunting, eating, staying warm.

Og takes a journey to talk with a wise one, and from that trip the wheel is born.

caveman_wheel_shadows2.gif

But even then, others in his clan are more interested in shooting it down as something that will never work. But one person does figure out the practical application, and pretty soon everyone is "rolling along" with the greatest thing since dried mammoth...

I really did like this book.

Taking the concept of ideas and putting them in caveman terms freshens up what could be just another book on creativity.

At the end of the book are 35 "tools" you can use to spur your own idea machine, as well as how best to make sure these fleeting thoughts don't disappear like smoke from a campfire.

Like many companies have done with "Cheese", this should be a mass purchase, handed out toall employees, and then discussed in team meetings.

Those who are into this genre will love it, and the Neanderthals who are cynical will likely spend the 30 minutes or so it should take to read it.

And they might even come out of that experience as the new Og of your organization.

What others are saying about it.

Winner of Axiom Business Book Award:
(scroll to category #22)

Buy the book

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

March 21, 2010
Honor Thy Father and Mother

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I am an innovation consultant. But I am also a son -- or at least was a son.

My last remaining parent, my father, died on July 14th, at 94. During the last days of his life, it became clear to me that there was a lot about his life I had no clue about. Not just information about our ancestors, but what really made him tick -- his dreams, his fondest memories, and what wisdom he was leaving behind for the next generation.

As a professional facilitator of "human process," I thought it would be easy to get him to talk about this stuff. It wasn't. My questions drew blank stares or a quick change of topic. Then my sister handed me the book she'd been writing, Window to My World, and everything changed.

What she had done was create a very accessible "fill in the blanks" book for seniors -- a way for them to reflect on their life and capture the essence for those of us they were leaving behind.

I spent hours sitting with him, asking him questions I had never had the courage -- or opening -- to ask -- everything from the names of his favorite teachers to his reflections on the meaning of life. He spoke. I wrote. And we both laughed and marveled.

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The time I spent with him doing this served another valuable purpose. It shifted his attention from fear, doubt, and worry to insight, wisdom, and love -- a BIG shift for a 94-year old man afraid of dying.

If your parents are still alive, I know they're aging. And I also know there will be a time when you will be sitting with them in a room, surrounded by pills and creams, and all the other flora and fauna of a person's last days. There will be a moment when you want to shift the conversation to something deeper, but want to do it in a way that's user friendly.

Window to My World is that way.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:15 AM | Comments (0)

January 21, 2009
Humanizing the Workplace

It's really not my nature to be this effusive about other people's books, but Gary Hamel's newest offering, The Future of Management, is a 15 on a scale of 1-10. Lucid. Authentic. Compelling. And very well-written.

Gary and his co-author, Bill Breen, have built a very compelling case for WHY management needs to change its stripes if they expect their organizations to grow or, more specifically, establish the kind of corporate culture that is conducive to real innovation. Here's an example of Hamel's straight talk:

"As human beings, we are amazingly adaptable and creative, yet most of us work for companies that are not. In other words, we work for companies that aren't very human."

"There seems to be something in modern organizations that depletes the natural resilience and creativity of human beings, something that literally leaches these qualities out of employees during daylight hours.

"The culprit? Management principles and processes that foster discipline, punctuality, economy, rationality, and order, yet place very little value on artistry, non-conformity, originality, audacity, and elan.

"To put it simply, most companies are only fractionally human because they make room for only a fraction of the qualities and capabilities that make us human. Billions of people show up for work every day, but way too many of them are sleepwalking. The result: organizations that systematically underperform their potential."

Exactly.

Innovative organizations know how to elicit a creative response from their workforce, not a reactive response. They know how to establish the kind of conditions that nurture growth, instead of mechanically extracting it. They choose to water the root of the plant, not tug on the stalk or harangue the leaves.

And they choose this approach because somewhere, deep, down inside, they respect the innate creativity and integrity of each and every employee.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:29 PM | Comments (0)

December 31, 2008
Welcome to the Ogosphere!

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Greetings! My name is Og, hero of Mitch Ditkoff's book about what it really takes to get a big idea out of your head and into the world.

Back in my day, there was no such thing as an internet. Not even a fishing net. Sticks and stones are what we had. And some wooly mammoths. When we wanted to send a message we pounded on our chests or sent smoke signals.

That's why I'm so pumped about the blogosphere. I mean, seven months after Mitch's book came out, bloggers are still getting the word out. Here's the latest from Christine Jalleh of Malaysia.

She is welcomed around our fire anytime.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:01 PM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2008
Forget About the Box, Get Out of the Cave!

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See the caveman to your left? That's Og. He's the protagonist of my new book, Awake at the Wheel: Getting Your Great Ideas Rolling (in an uphill world). The word "protagonist" is not in Og's vocabulary. Even I don't use the word "protagonist" all that much -- though I have used it three times in this paragraph.

Hmmm... That's pretty odd.

Then again, the experience of inventing the wheel was pretty odd, too. Which is what Og did. 24,000 years ago. Long before Game Boy, i-Pod, or Starbucks. And yes, long before the Mesopotamians -- the people who usually get all the credit for the wheel -- some 20,300 years after my main man, Og.

(Hey, when was the last time you used the word "Mesopotamian?" That's another word not in Og's vocabulary.)

Actually, Og didn't need a big vocabulary. He had something else going for him: Neanderthalic genius. Stone age brilliance. Originality. Og, you see, was the first innovator. Intrinsically motivated, he was. Fascinated. Inspired. Mojo-driven. And while he was not without imperfections, he needed no attaboys, cash awards, or stock options to follow his muse.

Back in Og's time, when men were men, and stones were stones, even the idea of an idea was unthinkable. And yet... somehow, he had one -- an IDEA, that is -- and not just your dime a dozen variety. Nope. A GREAT idea, a BIG idea, or what I like to call an "out of the cave" idea: The wheel.

Ah... but I go on too long. If Og were here, he'd be frowning by now, shrugging his stooped shoulders, wondering in his delightfully pre-verbal way what other new ideas and discoveries awaited his wonderfully hairy touch.

Want to order the book now? (Og gets 10% of every sale). Go ahead. Help him put bear meat on the table.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:37 AM | Comments (1)

Forget About the Box, Get Out of the Cave!

caveman_wheel_shadows.gif

See the caveman to your left? That's Og. He's the protagonist of my new book, Awake at the Wheel: Getting Your Great Ideas Rolling (in an uphill world). The word "protagonist" is not in Og's vocabulary. Even I don't use the word "protagonist" all that much -- though I have used it three times in this paragraph.

Hmmm... That's pretty odd.

Then again, the experience of inventing the wheel was pretty odd, too. Which is what Og did. 24,000 years ago. Long before Game Boy, i-Pod, or Starbucks. And yes, long before the Mesopotamians -- the people who usually get all the credit for the wheel -- some 20,300 years after my main man, Og.

(Hey, when was the last time you used the word "Mesopotamian?" That's another word not in Og's vocabulary.)

Actually, Og didn't need a big vocabulary. He had something else going for him: Neanderthalic genius. Stone age brilliance. Originality. Og, you see, was the first innovator. Intrinsically motivated, he was. Fascinated. Inspired. Mojo-driven. And while he was not without imperfections, he needed no attaboys, cash awards, or stock options to follow his muse.

Back in Og's time, when men were men, and stones were stones, even the idea of an idea was unthinkable. And yet... somehow, he had one -- an IDEA, that is -- and not just your dime a dozen variety. Nope. A GREAT idea, a BIG idea, or what I like to call an "out of the cave" idea: The wheel.

Ah... but I go on too long. If Og were here, he'd be frowning by now, shrugging his stooped shoulders, wondering in his delightfully pre-verbal way what other new ideas and discoveries awaited his wonderfully hairy touch.

Want to order the book now? (Og gets 10% of every sale). Go ahead. Help him put bear meat on the table.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:37 AM | Comments (1)

September 15, 2008
A Wonderfully Refreshing Review of Awake at the Wheel

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As you probably know by now, my book about the creative process -- Awake at the Wheel -- was published in May.

Like most new authors, it's appearance on the scene was a big deal for me. I checked my Amazon ranking five times a day. I did a bunch of interviews. I forwarded the good reviews to all my friends and family.

But after four months, a new book is no longer new.

Which is why yesterday was such a nice surprise. That's when I stumbled across the September 12th review of my book by someone I'd never heard of before, never sent a review copy to, never played the "you scratch my blog, I'll scratch yours" game.

There was something about the review that really touched me. Made me feel that all my howling at the moon was worth it.

So, thank you, Cristina Favreau, for your heartfelt, authentic, and very positive review of Awake at the Wheel.

I thank you. My publisher thanks you. And my fabulous publicist thanks you.

Like Og, you rock.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:52 AM | Comments (0)

June 12, 2008
New Blog Critics Magazine Review of Awake at the Wheel

OK. These two cavemen walk into a bar. The first one burps, pounds his hairy chest, and lets out a primal scream. The second mumbles something about Nietzche and thumbs through a recently purchased copy of Awake at the Wheel.

OK, so the first paragraph isn't exactly a joke (despite it's promising beginning), but it does technically qualify as a segue to the most recent review of my new book.

Sure, as far as segues go, the opening paragraph is not what I would call a "fantastic segue" or even a "good segue," but it IS a segue, which is all I was really going for here.

Violet Nesdoly is the reviewer. (Thank you, Violet!) BlogCritics Magazine is the website.

These two blog critics walk into a bar...

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 02:04 PM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2008
The Inner Game

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If you missed Tim Gallwey's classic Inner Game of Tennis the first time around, now's your chance to get it. Tim's book, the best selling sports psychology book in U.S. publishing history, is about as good as it gets. Using tennis as a metaphor, Tim has found an impeccable way to help athletes and non-athletes alike go beyond their inner obstacles and tap into their innate potential as human beings.

I'm speaking from experience, folks, because I worked with Tim for two years in the mid 1980's as part of his Inner Game corporation in LA. Tim doesn't just walk his talk, he lobs it, slams it, and puts just enough back spin on it to tease out the very best of his reader's and client's abilities.

Oh... he also gave me a wonderful testimonial about my new book, Awake at the Wheel: "A superb catalyst for anyone with the urge to bring their best ideas to reality."

Thanks, Tim! And thank all of you for making your effort to wake up and play the inner game of life.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:43 PM | Comments (1)

May 15, 2008
BOOK REVIEW: Growing Great Employees

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I love this management development book by Erika Andersen. It's simple. It's beautifully written. And it's very useful.

It's clear that Erika is talking from her real-world experience and not the jive zone of wannabee consultants. It's rare to find a business book devoid of gobbledygook. This book is that rare book.

I thoroughly enjoyed the various ways in which Andersen coaches the reader through real-time challenges in the corporate workplace -- especially the art of hiring and listening.

Growing Great Employees reminds me of what Michelangelo said when asked how he made the David. "I just took away everything that wasn't."

It sure seems to me that the very talented Ms. Andersen has found that secret formula, taking away everything that didn't need to be in this book and leaving the reader with everything they need in order to understand what it means to manage people skillfully and with great humanity.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:42 PM | Comments (1)

BOOK REVIEW: Growing Great Employees

GGE.jpg

I love this management development book by Erika Andersen. It's simple. It's beautifully written. And it's very useful.

It's clear that Erika is talking from her real-world experience and not the jive zone of wannabee consultants. It's rare to find a business book devoid of gobbledygook. This book is that rare book.

I thoroughly enjoyed the various ways in which Andersen coaches the reader through real-time challenges in the corporate workplace -- especially the art of hiring and listening.

Growing Great Employees reminds me of what Michelangelo said when asked how he made the David. "I just took away everything that wasn't."

It sure seems to me that the very talented Ms. Andersen has found that secret formula, taking away everything that didn't need to be in this book and leaving the reader with everything they need in order to understand what it means to manage people skillfully and with great humanity.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 10:42 PM | Comments (1)

Who Are We?

Idea Champions is a consulting and training company dedicated to awakening and nurturing the spirit of innovation. We help individuals, teams and entire organizations tap into their innate ability to create, develop and implement ideas that make a difference.

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.
Storytelling at Work
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Highly engaging learning experiences that increase each participant's ability to become a creative force for positive change
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Your "best and brightest" are the future leaders of your company, but unless they know how to foster a culture of innovation, their impact will be limited. A one-day workshop with us is all they need to begin this journey.
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Our Heart of Innovation blog is a daily destination for movers and shakers everywhere — gleefully produced by our President, Mitch Ditkoff, voted "best innovation blogger in the world" two years running.
What's the Problem
Einstein once said that if he had 60 minutes to solve a problem, he'd spend the first 55 thinking about the problem, and the next 5 solving it. This is the workshop he would have invented if time wasn't so relative.
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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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