Author Archives: Mitch Ditkoff

The Dynamics of Brainstorm Facilitation

A well-facilitated brainstorming session is like a symphony — or, at the very least, a really good performance of any kind of music. Embedded in its DNA are dynamics (i.e. “variation and contrast in force and intensity”) — the skillful modulation of elements that fully engages a person’s attention. The opposite? Muzak. Next time you listen to a piece of music, be aware of dynamics — the various ways in which the composition holds your interest (i.e. rhythm, pauses, crescendos, harmonies, solos, and multiple variations of soft and loud). As a brainstorm facilitator, you need to do everything in your power to keep the session as dynamic as possible so participants remain fully engaged — poised and ready to respond. If the session is boring (or takes a “dip” after a brief period of engagement), your chances of succeeding decline exponentially. Towards this end, think of yourself as a “conductor” … Continue reading

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Building an Idea Factory

One of the reasons why most BIG IDEAS go nowhere is because the idea originators do not have a team of collaborators on board to help develop and execute their ideas. In the absence of collaborators, the idea originators either try to do everything themselves (not a good idea) or spend so much time trying to enroll people on the fly that the idea loses momentum and eventually evaporates. Simply put, it’s easy to conceive. It’s harder to deliver the baby. But what if each of us who comes up with a potentially game-changing idea already had a team of collaborators in place — people who were poised and ready to respond with enthusiasm, skill, and clarity? This is not a new idea. There are examples in many other domains: Swat Teams, Firefighters, and Emergency Rooms, just to name a few. These are people who are there when you need … Continue reading

Posted in Creativity, Innovation, Management, Strategy | 9 Comments
The Role of Humor in Innovation

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 … Continue reading

Posted in Innovation, Management, Psychology | 3 Comments
36 Awesome Quotes on Time

The biggest excuse people make about why they can’t innovate is the lack of time. Really? “Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time’ is to say ‘I don’t want to.’” – Lao Tzu “To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.” – Leonard Bernstein “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” – H. Jackson Brown “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” – Albert Einstein “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”- Abraham Lincoln “Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.” – Napoleon Bonaparte “Your time is limited, … Continue reading

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20 Awesome Quotes on Beginning

1.”Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 2. “There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth — not going all the way, and not starting.” – Buddha 3. “Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.” – Meister Eckhart 4. “All great ideas and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning.” – Albert Camus 5. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu 6. “Beginnings are always messy.” – John Galsworthy 7. “When there is a start to be made, don’t step over! Start where you are.” – Edgar Cayce 8. “So many fail because they don’t get started — they don’t go. They don’t overcome inertia. They don’t begin.” – W. Clement Stone 9.”Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” … Continue reading

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When Innovation Best Practice is Worst Practice

I’m a collector of best practices. I like to find out what forward thinking individuals and organizations have done to accomplish extraordinary results. Sometimes I share these stories in my keynotes or workshops. Invariably, my stock rises when I tell these stories. People think I know stuff. They get giddy. They take notes. They think about how to adapt these best practices to their organization. But then things get weird. People start becoming satisfied with emulating other people’s lives. Instead of thinking up their own best practices, they imitate. Ouch! The spirit of innovation gets replaced by the religion of innovation. Gone is reflection. Gone is the process of discovery. Gone is the ownership that comes with birthing new insights. In it’s place? Simulation. Imitation. And, all too often, the blind following of pre-packaged solutions. I’m not saying there isn’t value in paying attention to other people’s best practices. There … Continue reading

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12 Ways to Make Bad Decisions

There are three things that continue to astound me about most organizations: The cro-magnon way performance reviews are done; the pitiful way brainstorm sessions are run and; the voodoo way decisions are made. What follows is an elaboration of the third — twelve all-too-common phenomena that contribute to funky decision making. (As you read, think about the teams you work most closely with — and which of these behaviors describes them). Selective Search for Evidence: Gathering facts that support pre-determined conclusions, but disregard other facts that support different conclusions. Premature Termination of Search for Evidence: Accepting the first alternative that looks like it might work. Inertia: Being unwilling to change old thought patterns. Selective Perception: Prematurely screening out information not assumed to be useful. Wishful Thinking: Wanting to see things in a positive light. Recency Effect: Putting undue attention on recent information and experience while minimizing the value of information … Continue reading

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