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    Invest in Innovation Skill Building

    innovation-trainingv1Invest in Your Innovation Capacity

    In my various consulting engagements I have learned not to take much for granted. I thought by this year in history (2016) everyone in the business world would have a clue as to how to do ideation (aka brainstorming) properly. Wow, not even close. It’s a glaring missing ingredient in staying competitive. It’s a key to growth and it’s routinely done poorly.

    I don’t understand why more companies don’t invest in building innovation capacity. It might be the biggest bang for the buck there is in terms of training. Better skills would mean: Better Strategy, More Innovation, and Faster Growth. I’m not exaggerating! If you read my post here and feel like this would make sense — here are my course offerings. Get in touch for more details.

    To be positive: There is a Huge Opportunity to Improve and Get Near Term Results with innovation training. Training in basics like brainstorming, but also more advanced concepts like innovation cycle management, frameworks, and facilitation of innovation teams and projects. Trend Mash-Ups like those done with the KILN IdeaKeg box promise breakthrough results. Yes, you can train people in all these things and you will get immediate results. Long term results could be breathtaking.

    To be negative (and also realistic) without these skills you could go the way of Radio Shack, Blockbuster, Kodak, etc.

    What am I talking about? Well for one, groups I’ve witnessed routinely start ideation with vague questions — which pretty much dooms the session. Wide open questions will get you thousands of ideas — mostly bad ideas. Suggestion boxes and poorly organized idea campaigns don’t work. Focused questions will get you fewer ideas, but they will be of higher quality. It’s not rocket science, but getting the question right requires training.

    Another example: charting ideas on a flip chart, well, that’s 1951 brainstorming. And that’s what a lot of people still do. It’s so much better to use Post-It Notes. It’s also better to use virtual systems. It’s also better to use techniques like BrainWriting, or even more advanced, BrainWalking. BrainWriting alone can improve ideation by leaps and bounds. It’s a technique that can be taught in about 10 minutes. In one day you could learn dozens of tools like BrainWriting — all ways to put your foot on the innovation accelerator!

    Story is another huge opportunity in terms of learning — for branding, messaging, marketing, and even just understanding who you are. Story has a cousin, improvisation, which is an art form that can be directly applied to complex problem solving — if you know how. And yes, this can be trained.

    What might be even worse is that many organizations don’t have the faintest idea how to crank up and sustain an innovation program.

    • They don’t know how to get a mandate from management — or why that might be important.
    • They don’t understand how to organize a team and why rebels and outsiders can really help.
    • They don’t know how to lead and facilitate a team once formed — and that facilitation skills along accelerate innovation.
    • They have some idea of brainstorming but it’s often ineffective, and, not done within any kind of innovation plan or cycle.
    • And worst of all — there are no innovation projects actually happening. Without projects — Nothing — will happen.

    I’m in the business of offering this kind of training, so please get in touch if you have this need. I do courses for organizations from as short as three hours, and can get an awful lot done in one day. My two and three day workshops could change your organization in a dramatic way! I also do public training courses where you can register even just one person to learn these skills. In fact, I have a public course scheduled for February in Denver. Sign up! It would be hard to find a more affordable and effective training course!

     

     

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    Retro Motorcycles Signal Innovation In Goshen, IN

    Manufacturing in America — Using the Past to Create an Innovative Future It’s heartening to learn about a small USA manufacturer who’s doing something creative, new, and interesting. Janus Motorcycles in Goshen, Indiana is creating hand-crafted, small batch motorcycles. These are simple, accessible, easy-to-work-with bikes. They are throwbacks in a certain way, but don’t get me wrong they’re elegant. The retro-ish designs are informed by old American bike brands like Indian, and old British bikes like Triumph and Norton. It’s not hard to imagine that famous Hoosier, James Dean, riding one of these bikes around the countryside. The bikes look like James Dean era rides because Janus purposefully leaves the bikes open, in the sense that all the parts can




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    Projects Are How Innovation Happens

    Projects, Projects, Projects Innovation is complex and difficult — but one thing about it is not. What’s quite simple about innovation is that projects are what make innovation real. The following concepts, frameworks, approaches, etc. are Not Innovation.  Unless they are in the context of an actual project. Thinking about things is not innovation Having beers and kicking ideas around are not innovation Brainstorming sessions are not innovation Idea Campaigns are not innovation Guided visualizations are not innovation Design Thinking is not innovation Creative Problem Solving is not innovation DeBono’s Six Thinking Hats are not innovation Lean is not innovation Prototyping is not innovation Crowd sourcing or Open innovation are not innovation TQM and Six Sigma are not innovation Defining




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    Fast Company’s Brainstorming Fail

    Fast Company Article “Brainstorming is Dumb” Misses the Point Brainstorming, Done Properly, Is Not a Tool, It’s A Multi-Step Process Here we go again. And yet another major publication publishes a misleading article about brainstorming — Brainstorming is Dumb. This happens about every six months. This time it’s Fast Company. The article gets a few things right, but misses the big picture, and smears a giant of the field, Alex Osborn. The headline is dead wrong, but wonderfully provocative. Fast Company missed an opportunity to inform more fully at the very least. The omission is so large one wonders if they have a fact checker on staff. The big picture the article misses is that brainstorming is not a single




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    Innovation Strategy Power Tools

    Challenge Mapping & IdeaKeg Do you want to cut through the clutter when it comes to innovation strategy? Are you sorting through plans for year-end strategy and ideation sessions? Are you at the very front end of innovation and not sure where to go, where to start? Are you asking questions like these (you should be!): What projects might we get started before the end of the year? What might be our innovation focus for 2017? How might we leverage those research insights we’ve developed? What trends and ideas outside our industry might we adapt to innovate? These questions can be tough to sort out. I’m suggesting here two bits of “sorting out” technology. Consider using two powerful innovation and




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    Trump: Learn to Steal Smart

    Stealing Smart and Stealing Stupid Melania Trump’s speech last evening at the GOP convention, and today’s subsequent media uproar and fiasco, is symbolic of several things in my view. Summarizing my themes here: Competence, Theft, and Ideas (or lack of them). I’ll take flack for writing this post, but understand, this is not about politics. It involves politics — but my comments have more to do with creativity and innovation. As most of you know, my interests are in those areas, so, I’m looking at recent events with that lens. Not as a lefty, not as a righty. I’m looking at this with the green tinted shades of the artist and the black and white lens of a professional innovator.




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    Dirty Martini Sunset

    Just for fun. Had a Dirty Martini on the deck at the Stray Dog in New Buffalo, MI. Good times.




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    The Risk of Not Innovating

    I recently was a guest blogger for Gibson Insurance and I wrote this piece about the risk of Not Innovating. I’ll make the point again here — with fewer words. For more detail, read my post over at Gibson. Risk Aversion is a Risk Itself Many leaders pull back on innovation programs because of expenses, and, fear of change. They settle for small changes and improvements and continue to look at innovation as if it’s extra work. They pay lip service to innovation and waste time doing culture assessments. They also spend precious time developing a precise process for innovation. Cultural awareness of the climate for innovation is a good thing, and a defined process is as well, but don’t




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    Six Ideas for Coping with Little “d” Depression in Innovation Projects

    Innovation and Depression …Six Ideas for Coping with Little “d” Depression… Nobody talks about the dark emotions related to innovation. You hear about the emotional high of a big “aha” moment. Or, less frequently, about the “oh crap” moment when a project hits a brick wall. But nobody talks about how personal battles with the dark side impact innovation. How many promising projects have gone up in smoke because the creator, the innovator, the project leader, or a team member lost faith in a dark moment? Losing heart for something you want to do can happen when a wave of negative emotion carries you away. It’s why people give up. Emotional highs and lows are part of life. I’m not




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    Dance Your Challenge

    Shake Your Booty The Creativity and Innovation point of this blog takes about three paragraphs to develop, so business readers, let me tell you a brief story to set it up. I was having dinner this week with Gary Schwartz, a fine actor and Improv person who was blowing through Chicago to promote his new children’s book, The King of Average.  Gary studied with a hero of mine, Viola Spolin (he’s the leading expert on her games and methods). As we talked about Improv and I heard some of his stories I was particularly impressed with one story having to do with “getting into the body” of a role. The Story: So Gary was playing the role of a Roman




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