May 25, 2020
RALLY THE TROOPS: Does Your Team Have a Mission Statement?

Shared sense of purpose.jpg

A team is a group of people who work together toward a common goal -- a group with a defined membership and a set of activities that define the scope of its work.

The key phrase in the preceding sentence? Common goal. When the common goal is clear, compelling, and embraced by team members, good things usually happen. When the common goal is not clear, compelling, or embraced by team members, symptoms of team dysfunction begin to manifest.

The common goal of a team is its mission. Its purpose. Its reason for being. Why people get out of bed in the morning.

A team's mission statement clarifies the what, who, and why it exists. It is not a vision statement. A vision statement evokes what will be. A mission statement declares what is.

What follows are inspiring examples of organizational mission statements. Notice how specific they are... how practical... and how inspiring! If your team is lacking a mission statement, consider the following as "grist for the mill."

Be on a mission.jpg

Google: "To organize the world's information and make it universally useful and accessible."

AT&T: "Being the world's best at bringing people together -- giving them easy access to each other and to the information and services they want and need -- anytime, anywhere."

Ben & Jerry: "Make, distribute, and sell the finest quality all-natural ice cream and related products in a wide variety of innovative flavors made from Vermont daily products."

Binney & Smith: "Produce the best quality, safest products for colorful visual expression for enjoyment, learning and work."

Nike: "Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world."

Microsoft: "Empower people through great software -- any time, any place, and on any device."

Steelcase: "Help people work more effectively."

American Red Cross: "Provide relief to victims of disasters and help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies."

Life Is Good: "Spread the power of optimism."

Nordstrom: "To give customers the most compelling shopping experience possible."

Prezi: "To reinvent how people share knowledge, tell stories, and inspire their audiences to act."

Tesla: "To accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy."

TED: "Spread ideas."

PS: Words matter. And so does the intention behind the words. For example, if you are a member of an IT team, which of the following mission statements are more likely to get you out of bed in the morning?

"We fix stuff that employees can't figure out or don't have the patience to figure out, so they constantly badger us to work long hours and solve their problems when we have lots of other, more important things to do."

"We empower our colleagues to master the tools of technology so they can achieve extraordinary results in the simplest, most powerful, and least stressful way possible."

Idea Champions
Illustrations: gapingvoid

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 03:15 AM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2020
20 Inspiring Quotes on Commitment


"Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans." - Peter Drucker

"Commitment is what transforms a promise into a reality." - Abraham Lincoln

"There are only two options regarding commitment; you're either in or you're out. There's no such thing as life in-between." - Pat Riley

"The difference between involvement and commitment is like ham and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed." - Martina Navratilova

"People do not follow uncommitted leaders. Commitment can be displayed in a full range of matters to include the work hours you choose to maintain, how you work to improve your abilities, or what you do for your fellow workers at personal sacrifice." - Stephen Gregg

"Commitment is an act, not a word." - Jean-Paul Sartre

"Desire is the key to motivation, but it's determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal -- a commitment to excellence -- that will enable you to attain the success you seek." - Mario Andretti

"The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor." - Vince Lombardi

"Something in human nature causes us to start slacking off at our moment of greatest accomplishment. As you become successful, you will need a great deal of self-discipline not to lose your sense of balance, humility, and commitment." - Ross Perot

"The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it is not without doubt, but in spite of doubt." - Rollo May

"If your energy is as boundless as your ambition, total commitment may be a way of life you should seriously consider." - Dr. Joyce Brothers

"The only limit to your impact is your imagination and commitment." - Tony Robbins

"It takes a deep commitment to change and an even deeper commitment to grow." - Ralph Ellison

"There's a difference between interest and commitment. When you're interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstance permit. When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results." - Art Turock

"It's always too early to quit." - Norman Vincent Peal

"Freedom is not the absence of commitments, but the ability to choose and commit myself to what is best for me." - Paulo Coelho

"If you can't value a commitment made by someone else, your own commitments lose their value too." - Ram Mohan

"Commitment is the enemy of resistance, for it is the serious promise to press on, to get up, no matter how many times you are knocked down." - David McNally

"There's a difference between interest and commitment. When you're interested in doing something, you do it only when it's convenient. When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses; only results." - Kenneth Blanchard

"Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person." - Albert Einstein

What are YOU committed to these days? What project, pursuit, cause, creation, effort, or endeavor have you fully embraced? And if, perchance, you haven't fully embraced it yet, what obstacle do you need to overcome? What do you need to do, today, in order to fully commit?

Quotes on mastery
Quotes on Excellence
Storytelling for the Revolution

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 09:17 PM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2020
WHAT WOULD SOLOMON DO? Can Wisdom Be Taught?


Thought provoking article here on the real purpose of education, can wisdom be taught, and the choices facing higher education these days.

Photo: Pierre Bamin, Unsplash
Wisdom Circles

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 12:35 AM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2020


The word "excellence" means different things to different people. Your definition may be different than mine... or your best friend's.... or your customers... or the CEO of the company you work for -- assuming, of course, you are not a freelancer, self-employed, or unemployed. Ultimately, YOU are the one to decide what excellence really means... why it matters... and how to get there. Towards that end, here is a selection of inspiring quotes on that very topic. See if you can find one that calls to you -- then reflect on what you can do to bring more excellence into your life -- on or off the job.

NOTE: The English word excellence comes from the Latin excello -- "to elevate, raise up, surpass."

"Excellence is not a gift, but a skill that takes practice. We do not act rightly because we are excellent. In fact we achieve excellence by acting rightly." - Plato

"The desire of excellence is the necessary attribute of those who excel. We work little for a thing unless we wish for it." - Edward Bulwer-Lytton

"The secret of joy in work is contained in one word: excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it." - Pearl S. Buck

"Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives. Choice, not chance, determines your destiny." - Aristotle

"Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better." - Pat Riley

"Excellence is doing a common thing in an uncommon way."- Albert Einstein

"Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence." - Jessica Guidobono

"Excellence is the unlimited ability to improve the quality of what you have to offer." - Rick Pitino

"The sad truth is that excellence makes people nervous." - Shana Alexander

"Those who attain any excellence, commonly spend life in one pursuit; for excellence is not often gained upon easier terms." - Samuel Johnson

"Aspire greatly; anything less than a commitment to excellence becomes an acceptance of mediocrity." - Brian Tracy

"The price of greatness is responsibility." - Winston Churchill

"I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times." - Bruce Lee

"Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence." - Vince Lombardi

"The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence." - Confucius

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:52 PM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2020


This just in! Recently, I polled a community of a thousand people I am working with, asking them to rate 20 different ways they could be of support to their colleagues, peers, neighbors, families, and children during these crazy times of the Coronavirus.

The highest rated of them all? Non-judgmental listening! An excellent choice. Sounds great, but in reality, is not as easy as it sounds.

If you want some tips on HOW to be a non-judgmental listener, click the links below for some sage advice.

Mastering non-judgmental communication

How to listen without judging
Mental Health First Aid

One of the biggest obstacles to communication
On being a better listener
Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 07:05 AM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2020
Passionate Leaders


This just in from Mohammed Azim, Head of the English Department at Al Siraat College , in Epping, Australia. Mohammed is a bright light, a dedicated team leader, and an active participant in the Team Leadership Training I am currently facilitating at the school. Mohammed is one of 35 teachers and staff members participating in a series of weekly training sessions to raise the bar for teamwork and collaboration. Al Siraat is onto something big -- and that is, tooling up their teachers and staff with the methods, mindset, tools, techniques, and practice necessary to help the teams they lead become high performing.


Lead with titles? No!
They lead with their passion.
Assign tasks? No!
They set the pace with magnetic vision.
Drive team? No!
They coach them with compassion.
Use people? No!
They develop them on every occasion.
Depend on authority? No!
On goodwill only is their station.
Say "I" mostly? No!
"We" is the sound in their oration.
Rule with their mind? No.
Heart and soul, it is; without deviation.
Fueled by commands? No!
Contagious positive energy is the sensation.
React to situations? No!
They anticipate as part of their education.
Ambitious, are they? No!
Their mission is their sole obsession.
Focused on consistency? No!
Flexibility is their take and position.
"Do the thing right"? No!
"Do the right thing" is their admission.

Great quotes on leadership
Idea Champions
Skillset vs mindset

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 05:20 AM | Comments (0)

May 08, 2020
If You Call a Meeting, Please Call It By the Right Name

Meeting boredom.jpg

Maybe it's just me. Or maybe it's the business I'm in, but I can't help but notice how often people with a pressing need to call a meeting find a way to work the "Let's get together and brainstorm" phrase into their invitation even when their meeting has absolutely nothing to do with brainstorming.

In effect, these kinds of invitations are nothing more than a kind of "bait and switch" in which unwary invitees assume they've been invited to help conjure up new possibilities, when, in fact, their creativity is neither needed, wanted, or recognized. The result? "Brainstorming" gets a bad name, meeting goers get pissed, and the person who called the meeting loses major points. Simply put, not all fruits are bananas.


And so, if YOU have a tendency to misrepresent the kind of meetings you call, the following list of "non-brainstorm meetings" should help clarify matters. I beseech you -- please do not use the "B" word to describe the meeting you're inviting people to if it has nothing to do with ideation and if any of the five descriptors below more accurately describe the purpose of your meeting.

1. INFORMATION SHARING MEETING: This is probably the most common kind of meeting -- a chance for people to update each other, share research, and reflect on changes impacting whatever projects they are working on together. New ideas are not the goal of this kind of meeting -- just the facts, m'am. (BTW, before calling this kind of meeting, ask yourself if the information to be shared can be shared in any other way).

Some meetings require nothing more than a talking head session -- a bunch of people sitting around a table and talking about this, that, and the other thing. This kind of meeting gives people a healthy chance to air out opinions, share concerns, listen, debate, and eat muffins. There's nothing wrong with this kind of meeting, but it does not require brainstorming for it to be effective.

3. TEAM ALIGNMENT MEETING: Sometimes teams simply need to get together to get on the same page. Or, if not on the same page, then in the same book. While this kind of gathering may include the sharing of information (see #1), it may also be a time for team mates to connect, clarify their vision, and reinforce commitments. While this kind of meeting may seem "soft" to some people, it's not. Unless your team is connected and aligned, it's highly unlikely it will be effective. PS: Getting your ducks in a row requires discussion, not brainstorming.

4. FEEDBACK MEETING: Sometimes it's useful for team members to get together for no other reason than to give and receive feedback. This kind of gathering can be as simple as a few "report outs" and a previously agreed upon process for people sharing their perspectives with each other. Ideas may spontaneously emerge from this kind of pow wow, but a feedback meeting is not the same thing as a brainstorm session.

5. DECISION MAKING MEETING: Sometimes the only reason for a team to get together is to make decisions, as in "who's doing what?" or whether it's time to get new bowling shirts. Decision making comes from the left brain. Brainstorming comes from the right. By the way, if your team has no agreement about how it makes decisions, this kind of meeting won't go very well --unless, of course, it's already been decided that the "boss" is the one who will be making decisions on behalf of the team.

So there you have it. Five kinds of meetings that are not brainstorm sessions. Neither are they vacations, coconuts, of the latest viral YouTube video of a cat playing the piano with a tongue depressor.

If you value the time, energy, and expectations of the people you work with, please take the time to clarify what kind of meeting you are inviting them to and declare it, as such, instead of misrepresenting it as a brainstorming session (which it probably isn't).

Description of a brainstorming session
Our brainstorming website

If you are a brainstorming skeptic

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

May 07, 2020
The Innovation Burnout Syndrome


Most newly launched organizational innovation initiatives have a dark side, a not-much-talked-about shadow side. And it is this... fascinating new projects are conceived, senior leaders get excited, game plans are drawn up, but no one gives the "worker bees" any more time to devote to the newly launched projects. They are, in effect, expected to shoehorn their new efforts into their already overloaded schedules.

Bottom line, aspiring innovators' "day jobs" end up colliding with newly launched innovation initiatives and mayhem ensues. People either burn out, get cranky, triangulate to third parties, spend way too much time explaining the newly launched innovation project to others, or else go into martyrdom-mode -- all behaviors that do not bode well for the individual, the company, or its customers. And while every company DOES have a few superstar self-starters who dive in with both feet, this is not a formula for sustainable innovation.

The solution? Either redistribute workloads, offer "innovation project sabbaticals", or provide your front line innovators with enough support services to unclutter their minds, ease their way forward, and allow them the time to focus on the innovation job at hand without frying.

Oh, I almost forgot -- you can stagger the launch of new initiatives so not everything is happening at the same time.

If you don't, expect nothing but a whole lot of chaos, broken promises, unfulfilled expectations, and the kind of innovation backlash you wish you hadn't unleashed.

Idea Champions

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 11:28 PM | Comments (0)

May 02, 2020
To Create the Future, See Hidden Patterns (and Challenge Them)


C_n y__ r_ad th__ se_t_nc_ ?


And do you know why you can? Because you've been given just enough information to deduce a meaning. Your brain, drawing on past experiences of letters, words and sentences, recognizes a pattern -- or at least thinks it does.

Human beings are masters at "filling in the blanks." We see something, compare it to our storehouse of past memories, reach a conclusion and then act on it. This pattern-recognizing ability of ours is very useful tool. It saves us time, lets us to make decisions on the fly, and helps us interpret our world.

For example, when driving up a hill, your pattern recognition ability allows you to keep on driving rather than stop your car to make sure the road continues on the other side.

Past experience has taught you that roads continue, even when you can't see where they're going.


"A genius is only that one who discerns the pattern of things within the confusion of details a little sooner than the average person," explained Ben Shahn.

True. But not always. After an earthquake, for example, some roads do not continue. In that case, it would not serve you to keep on driving. A routine habit that saved you time in the past might now lead to your quick demise. (Bye bye car payments. Bye bye world).

Indeed, more than a few patterns that we live our lives by turn out to seriously mislead us.

Stereotyping is the most obvious manifestation of this phenomenon, causing us to jump to conclusions. But our conclusions are not always true. In our hurry to make sense of the world, we prematurely "fill in the blanks," trading in reality for reactivity. The past, instead of serving us, becomes our ruler.

Patterns are neither good nor bad. They're simply the raw material from which we interpret our world.

Weathermen make their living interpreting patterns. So do stock market analysts, futurists, and astrologers. All of them infer a future based on past trends. Sometimes, however, they misinterpret the clues. Or even more insidiously, cannot detect new patterns inconsistent with their present worldview.

If you want to be more creative, start making a commitment to look for, learn from, and challenge existing patterns. It will help you see the world (and all your problems) in wonderful, new ways -- the fertile ground from which all innovation springs.

1. What patterns or trends most intrigue you?
2. What can you learn from these patterns or trends?
3. What new ideas for a product or service come to mind when you reflect on these patterns or trends?

Idea Champions
Here's a new trend

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 06:46 AM | Comments (3)

May 01, 2020

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at 08:02 AM | Comments (0)

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