Author Archives: Mitch Ditkoff

Increasing the Odds of an AHA Moment

What is it that allows some people to get creative breakthroughs while others get only creative breakdowns — alternately blaming themselves, society, their company, and their increasingly suspect astrological configurations? Is it true that people who experience breakthroughs are “gifted”? Or are there other factors at work — factors that we (the people) have more control over than we might think? While nobody can deny that some people seem to be blessed with “creative leanings” (i.e. Mozart at 4), research has shown that anyone can increase their chances of coming up with new and original ideas — even have the much sought after AHA! experience — that is, IF they immerse themselves in the little understood process of creation. Time and again, the literature bears this out: great creative breakthroughs usually happen only after intense periods of intention, immersion, struggle — even madness. It is sustained and focused effort towards … Continue reading

Posted in Creativity, Innovation, Psychology | 3 Comments
Treat Crazy Ideas With Respect

The next time somebody approaches you with a “crazy” idea, pause before putting them down. Instead of looking for what’s wrong, look for what’s right. See if you can find a hidden jewel in the idea, a principle, an essence that the idea originator is on to — even if the idea itself is rough, raw, or imperfect. The fact is: most great inventions, products, or services begin as a crazy idea. Maybe 99 out of 100 times, the so-called crazy idea will go nowhere, but the 100th time it just may be a winner. And one more thing — if you make a habit out of trashing other people’s “crazy” ideas too quickly, people will soon stop approaching you with any idea. Then all you’ll be left with are your own. Don’t miss an article (2,600+) – Subscribe to our RSS feed and join our Innovation Excellence group! Mitch … Continue reading

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38 Awesome Quotes on Change

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin “Change before you have to.” – Jack Welch “People don’t resist change. They resist being changed!” – Peter Senge “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” – Leo Tolstoy “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” – Albert Einstein “Nothing endures but change.” – Heraclitus “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – Buckminster Fuller “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” – Margaret Mead “I put a dollar in one of those change machines. Nothing changed.” – George Carlin … Continue reading

Posted in Management, culture | 7 Comments
What is the Power of Appreciation?

I have been an innovation consultant since 1986 and have worked with hundreds of organizations in more than 15 industries. The products and services of my clients have all been different — as have their acronyms, mission statements, and cafeteria food. But they all have one thing in common — and that is a pronounced tendency to undervalue the power of appreciation. Sure, they give out gold watches and Employee of the Month awards, but the simple act of acknowledging and appreciating each other on a daily basis is in woeful short supply. The reasons are many. Too many managers have come to believe that the expression of appreciation will be counterproductive, leading to a self-satisfied workforce — a workforce that will be entitled and unmotivated. The perceived lack of time is another reason. Most people’s plates are so full these days that the time and attention it takes to … Continue reading

Posted in Innovation, Management | 1 Comment
How the Ivy League is Killing Innovation

Here’s a wonderful article, just published in Bloomberg Business Week that raises a very curious paradox — why academics are teaching innovation. Authors G. Michael Maddock and Raphael Louis Viton state their case clearly, cleanly, and with just enough of an edge to draw blood. “Process-driven cultures love process-driven experts. Organizations, just like people, do what makes them feel strong, and nothing makes mature, process-driven companies feel stronger than having a template for doing anything (even if having a completely buttoned-down-ain’t-no-exceptions-allowed template for innovation seems oxymoronic on its face). Need innovation? Simply call in a PhD with a bow tie and trademarked process and watch your innovation portfolio grow. Right? Nope.” If you are a professor and find Maddock and Viton’s article objectionable, speak up! Let them know what you think — and why. Maybe you’re the one who’s found a way to teach innovation in a novel, cut-to-the-chase, non-academic … Continue reading

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10 Great Brainstorming Facilitator Personas

Allow me to make a wild guess. You have participated in more than a few brainstorm sessions in your life. Yes? And allow me to make another wild guess. Many of those sessions left you feeling underwhelmed, over-caffeinated, disappointed, disengaged, and doubtful that much of ANYTHING was ever going to happen as a result of your participation. Yes, again? I thought so. There’s a ton of reasons why most brainstorming sessions under-deliver, but the main reason — the Mount Olympus of reasons (drum roll, please….) is the brainstorm facilitator. Armed with a short list of ground rules, a flipchart marker, and a muffin, most brainstorm facilitators miss the mark completely. The reason has less to do with their process, tools, and techniques than it does with their inability to adapt to what’s happening, real-time, in the room. In an all-too-professional attempt to be one-pointed, they end up being one-dimensional, missing … Continue reading

Posted in Creativity, Innovation | 2 Comments
It All Began with Balls

Most companies begin on a shoe-string — under-funded, under the gun, and under the radar. The company I co-founded in 1986, Idea Champions, was no exception. When my business partner and I began, we had almost nothing — just an idea, some chutzpah, and a deep desire to succeed. While we both were likable, smart, and skillful schmoozers, we had zippo in the way of a marketing plan. Racking what was left of our over-caffeinated brains, it soon became abundantly clear that we needed some kind of showcase, some kind of “window to the world” — a place to strut our entrepreneurial stuff and get in front of the people who were the likely buyers of our service… Back in those days, this meant one thing — renting a booth at the ASTD convention — the annual meet market in the training and development field. The thought of this made … Continue reading

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Sales | Leave a comment