Author Archives: Mitch Ditkoff

The GOtta Have a Process Blues

The Gotta Have a Process Bluesby Mitch DitkoffOne of my favorite clients of all time was a key manager in a very prominent Fortune 500 company. She was smart. She was funny. She was creative. And she was kind. Then her company adopted Six Sigma. I couldn’t help but notice that soon after this she started becoming uncharacteristically cranky, not unlike the way an artist gets upon filling out a tax form. When I asked her how the Six Sigma initiative was going, she rolled her eyes and mumbled something about “going through the motions.”In a recent online Business Week posting, Brian Hindo lucidly deconstructs some of the flawed assumptions of the Six Sigma approach… “The very factors that make Six Sigma effective in one context,” explains Hindo, “can make it ineffective in another. Traditionally, it uses rigorous statistical analysis to produce unambiguous data that help produce better quality, lower … Continue reading

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56 Reasons Why Innovation Initiatives Fail

Innovation is in these days. The word is on the lips of just about every CEO, CFO, CIO, and anyone else with a three-letter acronym after their name. As a result, many companies are launching all kinds of “innovation initiatives” – hoping to stir the soup. This is understandable. But it is also, far too often, very disappointing…Innovation initiatives sound good, but usually don’t live up to the expectations. The reasons are many. What follows are fifty-six of the most common ones – organizational obstacles we’ve observed in the past twenty-two years that get in the way of a company really raising the bar for innovation. See which ones are familiar to YOU. Then, sit down with your Senior Team… CEO… innovation committee, or best friend and jump start the process of going beyond these obstacles. Let the games begin:”Innovation” framed as an initiative, not the normal way of doing … Continue reading

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Brainstorming Breakthroughs Require the Right Question

There’s a simple reason why so many brainstorm sessions are a waste of time. The problem statement being pitched to participants is the wrong one. This is not surprising – especially when you consider how little time most facilitators put into preparing for a session. Here’s what happens: The person who calls the session is usually scrambling – overwhelmed, over-caffeinated, and running from one meeting to the next. Out of breath, they pitch the topic to the group, but the topic is either vague or secondary to a more essential challenge that remains unspoken.G.K. Chesterton, one of the most influential English writers of the 20th century, distilled the phenomenon down to 13 words. “It’s not that they can’t see the solution,” he said. “They can’t see the problem.”Then, of course, there’s also the phenomenon of perception bias. Pitch a challenge to an IT person, and it will be seen as … Continue reading

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Brainstorming is More Than Ideation

Most people think brainstorming sessions are all about ideas – much in the same way that Wall Street bankers think life is all about money. While ideas are certainly a big part of brainstorming, they are only a part. People who rush into a brainstorming session starving for new ideas will miss the boat (and the train, car, and unicycle) completely unless they tune into the some other mighty important dynamics:1. INVESTIGATION: If you want your brainstorming sessions to be effective, you’ll need to do some investigating before hand. Get curious. Ask questions. Dig deeper. The more you find out what the real issues are, the greater your chances of framing powerful questions to brainstorm and choosing the best techniques to use.2. IMMERSION: While good ideas can surface at any time, their chances radically increase the more that brainstorm participants are immersed (i.e. focused). Translation? No coming and going during … Continue reading

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