Author Archives: Mitch Ditkoff

26 Reasons Why Most Brainstorming Sessions Fail

And what you can do about itby Mitch DitkoffWhenever I ask our clients to tell me about the quality of brainstorming sessions in their company, they usually roll their eyes and grumble. Bottom line, most brainstorming sessions don’t work. Not because brainstorming, as a process, doesn’t work – but because it’s usually done poorly.What follows are the 26 most common reasons why – and after that, a list of what you can do differently to turn things around.26 REASONS BRAINSTORMING SESSIONS FAILPoor facilitationWrong (or poorly articulated) topicUnmotivated participantsInsufficient diversity of participantsInadequate orientationNo transition from “business as usual”Lack of clear ground rulesSterile meeting spaceHidden (or competing) agendasLack of robust participationInsufficient listeningHabitual idea killing behaviorAttachment to old (“pet”) ideasDiscomfort with ambiguityHyper-seriousness (not enough fun)Endless interruptionsPDA addiction (Crackberries)Impatience (premature adoption of the first “right idea”)Group thinkHierarchy and/or competing sub-groupsImbalance of divergent and convergent thinkingNo tools and techniques to spark the imaginationInelegant ways of … Continue reading

Posted in Creativity, Innovation | 3 Comments
100 Simple, Low-Cost Ways to Be More Creative on the Job

by Mitch DitkoffAsk the most creative people at work for their ideas.Brainstorm daily with a co-worker.Tape record your ideas on your commute to and from work.Present your challenge to a child.Take your team off-site for a day.Listen to your inner muse.Play music in your office.Go for a daily brainstorming walk.Ask someone to collaborate with you on your favorite project.Exercise during your lunch break.Turn on a radio at random times and listen for a “message.”Invite your customers to brainstorming sessions.Think of three other ways to define your challenge.Remember your dreams.Reward yourself, in specific ways, for small successes.Introduce odd catalysts into your daily routine.Get out of the office more regularly.Play with fun toys in your office whenever you get stuck.Take more naps.Ask for help.Work in cafes.Transform your assumptions into “How can I?” questions.Write down as many ideas as you can think of in five minutesRedesign your office.Take regular daydreaming breaks.Dissolve turf boundaries.Initiate … Continue reading

Posted in Creativity, collaboration | 13 Comments
The Four Currents of a Culture of Innovation

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking these days about “culture of innovation” – trying to get down to the root of what the heck it’s all about.It’s easy to wax poetic about the topic (and a lot of people do), but too much of the stuff I’ve been reading sounds like bad advertising copy for motherhood and apple pie. So, at the risk of oversimplifying the whole thing, here’s my blogospheric whack at boiling the mumbo jumbo down to the core. If you want to create a sustainable culture of innovation, you will need to understand that there are always four forces at work – four currents that are always interacting with each other:Top DownBottom UpOutside InInside OutTOP DOWN: Although the “revolution” never starts with the King, it is imperative that top leadership plays their “culture-enhancing role” far more than they currently do.The people in the trenches need to … Continue reading

Posted in Culture & Values, Innovation, Leadership, Management, culture | 3 Comments
Rise of the Innovation Ninjas

Every once in a while I come across a quote or excerpt from an article that I want to immediately post on the windshield of every client of mine. It cuts to the chase and lucidly states what I’ve been trying to say, in various Neanderthalic ways, all these many years. Take this Einstein quote for example:”Not everything that counts can be counted; and not everything that can be counted counts.”Bingo! Bullseye! What a perfect way of explaining to a left-brained addicted world that metrics and analysis is not the only game in town.And then there’s Gary Hamel. He takes a bit more time than Albert to make his point, but hey, it’s all relative isn’t it? Check this out from the man behind one of my favorite business books of all time:Today, innovation is the buzzword du jour in virtually every company, but how many CEOs have put every … Continue reading

Posted in Innovation, Leadership, Strategy | 1 Comment
The Innovation Paradox

My big insight about innovation these days would make Nobel Prize winner, Niels Bohr, proud. “Now that we have met with paradox,” explained Dr. Bohr, “we have some hope of making progress.” Innovation is full of it – paradox, that is. On one hand, organizations want structures, maps, models, guidelines, and systems. On the other hand, that’s all too often the stuff that squelches innovation, driving it underground or out the door.The noble search for a so-called “innovation process” can easily become a seduction, addiction, or distraction whereby innovation is marginalized, deferred, over-engineered, and worn like a badge. True innovation is about allowing room enough for paradox to be a teacher and guide – and to accept, at least for a little longer than usual, ambiguity, dissonance, and discomfort – the age-old precursors to breakthrough. Remember, there’s a big difference between Six Sigma and Innovation.Six Sigma is about reducing variability. … Continue reading

Posted in Innovation | 2 Comments
Top 100 Lamest Excuses for Not Innovating

Recognize any of these? If so, find your way pass the 100th and learn how to go beyond them. Takes less than five minutes. (Or maybe a lifetime).1. I don’t have the time.2. I can’t get the funding.3. My boss will never go for it.4. Were not in the kind of business likely to innovate.5. We won’t be able to get it past legal.6. I’ve got too much on my plate.7. I’ll be punished if I fail.8. I’m just not not the creative type.9. I’m already juggling way too many projects.10. I’m too new around here.11. I’m not good at presenting my ideas.12. No one, besides me, really cares about innovation.13. There’s too much bureaucracy here to get anything done.14. Our customers aren’t asking for it.15. We’re a risk averse culture. Always will be.16. We don’t have an innovation process.17. We don’t have a culture of innovation.18. They don’t pay … Continue reading

Posted in Innovation, Leadership | 3 Comments

“Companies are actually living organisms, not machines. We keep bringing in mechanics, when what we need are gardeners.” – Peter Sengeby Mitch DitkoffSustainable innovation, the endless effort to find a better way, cannot be achieved by robotically lining up best practices and imitating them. The real catalyzing agent for renewable innovation is the ground from which these best practices spring – the confluence of purpose, people, and processes better known as culture. From where will the next wave of groundbreaking innovation come?Not from organizations mechanically mimicking each other’s best practices, but from organizations with the authentic commitment to take their stand on ground that has been cultivated for breakthrough.If you check the contents of the most popular books on innovation, the same topics show up again and again: strategy, systems, process, leadership, customer focus, risk, speed to market, prototyping, metrics, mass collaboration, market intelligence, technology, and creative thinking. Clearly, all … Continue reading

Posted in Build Capability, Culture & Values, Innovation, Leadership, Strategy, collaboration, culture | 1 Comment