March 29, 2012
What Lens Are You Looking Through?


Holmes and Watson are on a camping trip. In the middle of the night Holmes wakes up and gives Dr. Watson a nudge. "Watson," he says, "look up in the sky and tell me what you see."

"I see millions of stars, Holmes," says Watson.

"And what do you conclude from that, Watson?"

Watson thinks for a moment, "Well," he says, "astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful, and we are small and insignificant. Uh, what does that tell you, Holmes?"

"Watson, you idiot! Someone has stolen our tent!"

Right on, Holmes!

For those of you trying to figure out why your business isn't more innovative, consider the above joke. The answer is in the punchline.

Your CEO looks up and sees the Board. Your CFO looks up and sees Wall Street. Your CIO looks up and sees Blackberries. Your HR Director looks up and sees diversity. And your workforce? They don't look up -- overwhelmed as they are with the tasks they've been given to deliver on next quarter's results.


The beauty of the Holmes/Watson joke (excerpted from Thomas Cathcart's and Daniel Klein's delightful book, Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar...) is that it cuts to the core of the issue in very few words.

Humor does that. Which is why the Court Jester was the one who had the King's ear.

HAHA and AHA are two sides of the same coin. The same thing that triggers laughter triggers insight.

It's all about a momentary shock to the system -- the unexpected...a surprise... delightful discontinuity. And when that happens -- when we are momentarily boggled by an input that does not fit with our logical expectations, VOILA! Breakthrough! And along with it, a jolly good time.

Unfortunately, the sound of laughter in the workplace is often interpreted by managers as proof of a slacker workforce -- as if laughing and working were mutually exclusive.

Nothing could be further from the truth. "If you lose the power to laugh, you lose the power to think" explained Clarence Darrow.

Or how about this from Carl Jung? "The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by the play instinct arising from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the object it loves."

Or this from Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!', but 'That's funny.'"

OK. These two innovation consultants walk into a bar...


Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:24 AM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2012
The Joy of Outlandishness


Idea Champions University

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Does Laughter Enable Thinking?


Our webinars

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March 27, 2012
The Beauty of Bad


Our new webinar series

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March 23, 2012
Thomas Edison on Making Mistakes


"I make
than anyone
I know,
and sooner
or later,
I patent
most of them."

- Thomas Edison

Rethinking Failure

Risk taking quotes Innovation keynotes

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:46 PM | Comments (0)

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


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
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)

March 20, 2012
Why Good Leaders Pause

It's often the case that people expect their leaders to be decisive -- able to make difficult decisions quickly. Indeed, this kind of behavior is interpreted as one of the hallmarks of good leadership.

The reality is different, however.

The "rush to judgment" mindset creates undue pressure on leaders -- the kind of pressure that causes them to prematurely choose a path forward even when confronting a complex problem.

To be truly effective, leaders need to balance the need to quickly converge on a single solution with the conflicting requirement that multiple perspectives be considered.

Yes, spending time to gain an understanding of the thought processes behind conflicting perspectives slows down the decision-making process. But it also creates a rich opportunity for much more robust solutions.

Slowing down is not necessarily a sign of procrastination or indecision. More accurately, it is a sign of impending wisdom about to be applied.


Tolerating this period of pause requires leaders to exhibit two qualities that seem to be in short supply these days:

1. Self-confidence (not bravado).
2. Patience (not procrastination).

Unfortunately, as external pressures from above and below increase, leaders experience an increasing tendency to internalize these pressures, causing self-doubt, stress, and a relentless need to prove their worth.

The result? Leaders end up adopting pre-existing solutions not well-suited to the challenges at hand. They decide fast, but the decisions they make are all too often fatally flawed.

Being able to resist mounting pressures to act quickly requires great intestinal fortitude. It requires leaders to keep themselves and others passionately engaged in the process of finding a way through the uncertainty instead of grasping at known "solutions" which only make the problem worse.

This phenomenon is similar to the classic story of the drunkard looking for his car keys under a streetlight even though he knows it's not where he dropped them.

"I know my keys aren't there," he confesses, "but that's where the light is."

It's not easy searching in the dark. Nor is it easy convincing others to join you in the search.

Which is precisely why being an authentic leader is so difficult these days.

- Barry Gruenberg
Here's another one of Barry's fine articles.


Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:39 AM | Comments (0)

March 19, 2012
iPhone, Therefore I Am?


I just had a realization. Well, maybe "realization" is too fancy a word. Make that more of an insight. Nah... "insight" sounds just a tad too self-congratulatory.

For want of a better word, let's call my little moment a semi-embarrassing wake up call -- the kind of learning experience I claim is good for me, but I really don't want to have.

It's a moment I've had a hundred times before, but not until two days ago, in Newark Airport, as I was exiting Flight #1140 from LA, did the whole thing really dawn on me.

There I was, merrily walking through Terminal "C", glad to be heading home after a three-day business trip, when I reached into my pocket for my trusty iPhone only to discover it wasn't there.

My iPhone wasn't there! Gone. It was gone. My iPhone was gone!

Gone, as in missing. Gone, as in not in my pocket. Gone, as in WHERE IN THE WORLD WAS MY FREAKING IPHONE with all those apps and appointments and contacts?


No, I wasn't in Kansas anymore. Neither was I in New Jersey. I was in a sudden state of panic -- as far away from samadhi as a person could be, Woody Allen on steroids -- my former digital life flashing before my eyes.

Where just a minute ago I was a conscious human being firmly rooted in a deep experience of peace, now I was wildly slapping every pocket I could find like some kind of poster boy for Tourette's Syndrome

This ridiculous outtake from a movie that will never be made took less than five seconds (me having blissfully located the "missing iPhone" in my suit jacket pocket), but those five seconds were very revealing -- me (Mr. Been-On-The-Path-For-40-Years) so easily discombobulated by a (temporarily) missing phone.

Which, I guess, is a good thing -- as it popped, once again, the bubble of my own pitiful self-image of being so together -- that shiny golden calf I all-too-often worship at.

My little airport experience reminds me of that classic Zen story of the young monk who -- after ten years of deep practice in the mountain monastery -- is invited by his Master to give the morning talk at the local village temple.

The young monk's discourse was impeccable that day, his Master astounded by his protege's ability to quote from the most esoteric of Zen doctrine.

But when the talk was over and it was time for the young monk to begin his long trek back up the mountain, he could not find his sandals.

Apparently, in his excitement at having been asked to speak, he'd forgotten where he put them.

Unsmiling, his Master shot him a stern glance and pointed to the mountain top.


"Ten more years, young friend. Ten more years."

And that's exactly how long it took the monk to be asked again to give the morning talk at the village temple.

The good news? On that day he remembered exactly where his sandals were.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:34 AM | Comments (0)

March 18, 2012
Einstein on Stupidity

Einstein innovation everyones job.jpg

is a genius.
But if you
judge a fish
by its ability
to climb a tree,
it will live
its whole life believing
that it is stupid."

- Albert Einstein

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:44 PM | Comments (0)

March 12, 2012
POLL: Why Do You Want to Innovate?

Einstein WHY final.jpg

If you read this blog, I know you want to innovate -- but I don't know WHY. Click here to take the poll. Results posted here in a few weeks.

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:19 AM | Comments (1)

March 11, 2012
Where Einstein Got His Great Ideas

Einstein shaving.jpg

Einstein would have loved this guy
The patron saint of our webinar
Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:25 AM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2012
Going Viral on the Cutting Edge

This is fabulous. Totally refreshing. And since it's all about razor blades, appropriately "edgy". Oh, it's already gotten more then 2.4 million views on YouTube. PS: How can you create a cool viral video that promotes your product or service?

Idea Champions

Get the juices flowing

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:54 AM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2012
How to Capture the Wisdom of Your Organization's Elders


What do Clint Eastwood, Madeline Albright, Willie Nelson, Alan Alda, Desmond Tutu, Jane Goodall, Ravi Shankar, Edward Kennedy, Andrew Wyeth, Frank Gehry and a host of other creative movers and shakers have in common beside fame?


Click here to see what they've learned in their long and very diverse lives... and get a glimpse of the fabulous Wisdom Project produced by Andrew Zuckerman.

If you work in an organization and are looking for a simple way to capture the wisdom of your senior people before they move on, here's a clue how to do it.

Honor the past, live in the present, be open to the future...

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 01:26 AM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2012
WEBINAR #1: Ideation Jump Start

Idea Champions is happy to announce the launch of its new webinar curriculum for 2012 -- a series of high value 60-minute tutorials for companies wanting to foster innovation in a way that is encouraging, empowering, and enlightening.

Here's a brief description of the first one -- a webinar that has already been delivered nine times to Chubb Insurance.

IDEATION JUMP START is a powerful way to catalyze brilliance, creativity, and new ideas for individuals and teams at every level of your organization. It is especially beneficial for people who are committed to going beyond the status quo and originating elegant, new approaches to meeting pressing business challenges.

Prior to the webinar, we will help you define 1-3 challenges you want participants to address in the webinar.


1. How to access breakthrough ideas from your subconscious mind

2. Four mind-opening techniques to help you originate powerful, new ideas on and off-the-job

3. Five simple ways to increase the effectiveness of small group brainstorming

4. How to give and receive the kind of feedback that decreases naysaying and increases the odds of powerful, new ideas taking root in the organization

Bottom line, people who participate in an IDEATION JUMP START webinar have their "creative floodgates" opened and make a meaningful commitment to generating powerful, new ideas that will help their company grow.

Presented by Mitch Ditkoff, President of Idea Champions
For more info, contact Sarah Jacob (

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:24 PM | Comments (0)

March 02, 2012
A Crash Course On How to Be a Great Consultant

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:44 AM | Comments (2)

March 01, 2012
Reframing Company Politics

Here is a very refreshing take on a topic most of us are not very clear about -- company politics. If you want to be more influential in your organization, this a good place to start.

More about Rick Brandon

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 04:14 AM | 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.
Click here for the simplest, most direct way, to learn more about Idea Champions' semi-fearless leader, Mitch Ditkoff. Info on his keynotes, workshops, conferences, and more.
Storytelling for the Revolution
Storytelling for the Revolution is Mitch Ditkoff's newly published book about the power of personal storytelling to elevate the conversation on planet Earth. Provocative. Evocative. And fun. YOU have stories to tell. This book will help you tell them.
Storytelling at Work
"The world is not made of atoms," wrote the poet, Muriel Rukeyser. "It's made of stories." Learn how to discover, honor, and unpack the stories of yours that show up "on the job" in Mitch Ditkoff's award-winning 2015 book, Storytelling at Work.
Top 5 Speaker
Mitch Ditkoff, the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions, has recently been voted a top 5 speaker in the field of innovation and creativity by Speakers Platform, a leading speaker's bureau.
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Workshops & Trainings
Highly engaging learning experiences that increase each participant's ability to become a creative force for positive change
Brainstorm Facilitation
High impact certification training that teaches committed change agents how to lead groundbreaking ideation sessions
Cultivating Innovation
Your "best and brightest" are the future leaders of your company, but unless they know how to foster a culture of innovation, their impact will be limited. A one-day workshop with us is all they need to begin this journey.
Our Blog Cabin
Our Heart of Innovation blog is a daily destination for movers and shakers everywhere — gleefully produced by our President, Mitch Ditkoff, voted "best innovation blogger in the world" two years running.
Team Innovation
Innovation is a team sport. Brilliant ideas go nowhere unless your people are aligned, collaborative, and team-oriented. That doesn't happen automatically, however. It takes intention, clarity, selflessness, and a new way of operating.
Awake at the Wheel, Book about big ideas If you're looking for a powerful way to jump start innovation and get your creative juices flowing, Awake at the Wheel is for you. Written by Mitch Ditkoff, Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions.
Face the Music Blues Band The world's first interactive business blues band. A great way to help your workforce go beyond complaint.

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