Creativity and Self-Expression

    Five Ways Incivility Decapitates Innovation

    A Culture of Incivility Harms USA Innovation

    decapitatinginnovationv1Five Ways Incivility “Decapitates” Innovation

    The recent flap around Kathy Griffin’s posting a picture of a fake severed head, of our President, was a sad attempt at humor, but incredibly successful at provocation.

    It has brought up the discussion, once again, of the civility of our discourse in America. I think Tiffany Quay Tyson does a nice job of summing up how many people are reacting to the Griffin incident, and the subsequent howls of reaction.

    No matter your political persuasion, civil discourse, and it’s close cousins, politeness, gentility, tolerance, compassion, and good manners have slipped far from where we once were.

    Those who keep track of civility are in agreement about the downslide. I’m not interested in arguing the point, who started it, or, which side of the aisle is worse. It goes beyond politics. Simple behaviors like cutting lines, yelling at people while in your car, treating people poorly, and flaming folks on FB — they indicate that politics is only reflecting a broader cultural tendency towards more incivility.

    Here’s the bottom line: incivility harms innovation, long term and short, business and personal.

    Five ways a lack of civility negatively impacts innovation:

    1. Teams: Innovation of all kinds is done by teams and rarely by individuals. Team members have to work together to get things done, and, a lack of civility puts people in unproductive conflict, and more often. In order to be productive teams need to get past conflict (see Tuckman model). So, teams are less effective and the result is less innovation.
    2. Bubbles: Diversity of thinking boosts the quantity and quality of creative output. In an uncivil world, people avoid those who don’t think as they do. Insular bubbles of “same think” people are created and those bubble groups have less creative ideas — because they have less thinking to combine. The result is less innovation, or, groups settling for incremental, not breakthrough, innovation.
    3. Government Efficiency: The government plays a big role in setting the table for corporate innovation. The results the USA has gotten from government programs, like NASA, has led to new industries and commercial success stories. Funding, and doing, deep research in science and technology pays off in the long run. As our federal government becomes more dysfunctional and less focused on problem solving, they get less done. Funding for important research gets put off or cancelled, and this will, in the long run, lead to less innovation. Of course, incivility is not the only reason research is not getting funded.
    4. Tolerance for Creatives: Creative people are sometimes not mainstream in their beliefs and behaviors (and I admit some are conventional and not stereotypical “creatives”). Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, and many others were complex characters, and for those people to create something important, a lot of tolerance is needed. With less tolerance for different views, be they political or otherwise, our crazy geniuses will be fired, or, won’t get nearly as much done. Again, less innovation is the result.
    5. Customers: Organizations that have uncivil cultures reflect that to their customers and suppliers. If your co-workers are rude to you, your unhappiness is likely to spill over when facing customers. Even a single incident of rudeness is enough to turn away a customer of many years. This is more of an income impact, but without income, an organization can’t invest in…innovation.

    So, folks, let’s keep our heads on, and start acting like nice people. Innovation needs you to behave that way.

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    Organizational Creativity, A Practical Guide for Innovators & Entrepreneurs

    Book Review of: Organizational Creativity, A Practical Guide for Innovators & Entrepreneurs I read the literature associated with creativity and innovation. Can you hear me snoring? I don’t review most of them because I’d have to pan them. They are consistently boring, dry, and wonky. At the end of the day many books in the genre are, weirdly, not very creative. I’m happy to report that I’ve read a new creativity book that is quite dynamic. Organizational Creativity, A Practical Guide for Innovators & Entrepreneurs, by Gerard Puccio, John F. Cabra and Nathan Schwagler* is a breath of fresh air. It’s dense with fascinating and fresh information about innovation. As claimed in the title, it really is practical, and indeed,




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    Innovation MoshPit

    What’s Really Needed is an Innovation MoshPit Reinventing Combinations, Concept Blends, and Mash-Ups I’ve been touting concept blends in innovation for some time. My reason is simple, it’s a fast path to new and different ideas. From the Printing Press to the iPhone, big new market-creating innovation happens when concepts from two different domains are combined. These Mash-Ups are not intuitive for most people to do and maybe that’s why some people try it and fail. Take heart, smart people can do concept blends with careful mental scaffolding. The key benefit to concept blends for organizations is finding breakthrough innovation. It’s my contention that a lot of breakthrough innovation is left on the table because not enough thinking work is




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    Ten Things United Airlines Might Have Done

    Improving Customer Service at United Airlines Requires a Paradigm Shift and Recognizing They Have a Problem Creative Training Would Have Helped 10 Things United Airlines Might Have Done (see below) Once again we have an incident of extremely poor customer service from a major airline. This time it’s United (as it is frequently) who dragged a paying customer off a flight by force. A doctor on a deadline. Incidentally, an Asian man. The video is very hard to watch, it’s sad, degrading, humiliating for the passenger, and an example of brutality visited upon an innocent and trusting consumer. The cops went too far as well, but United made the call and got them involved. United is responsible. Other than beating




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    Small “i” Insights or Large “I” Insights Yield Different Innovation

    Qualitative Consumer Verbatims Lead Directly to New and Improved Ideas Disruptive Innovation Requires Reframing of Consumer Words and Need States Working with Fortune 1000 companies I’ve found cultures rich in respect for qualitative research. The term “Focus Groups” really doesn’t do the method justice, it’s more sophisticated than that.  Smaller companies often do qualitative to, usually less formally, and often poorly, but sometimes brilliantly. Listening to consumers is a skill any entrepreneur or innovator can cultivate. The trap is thinking that consumer words, aka insights, are great launching pads or problem frames for ideation. They’re not bad, but they rarely lead to disruptive innovation. As a qual friend said to me, “here are big “I” insights and small “i” insights.”




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    Innovate Immigration Policy

    Why a Hostile Immigration Policy is Stupid Who remembers George Gilder? He’s a relevant person to recall at this moment in time. George Gilder said in 1995: “Without immigration over the last 50 years, I would estimate that U.S. real living standards would be at least 40% lower.” He could be wrong with that figure. It might be more than 40%. He said that in 1995. Readers who would prefer I stay out of political posts please understand this is a post about Innovation. I’m not going to comment on the moral, legal, or overtly political aspects of the new immigration policy. I will say that the new policy is hostile, at the very least in terms of how it’s




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    Colorado Innovation Training

    A brief post to make sure you know about the upcoming Denver, CO public course in Advanced Innovation Facilitation.  This is a high value training. It’s partially sponsored so the price is much lower than usual. Here’s a page with details. It’s next week Starting Wednesday February 1, continuing on Feb 2, finishing at noon on Feb. 3rd. Essentially this is intensive, hands-on workshop that trains people in innovation frameworks, and tools for strategy, ideation, research, and project management. It’s being held at the Community Research Center and I’m working with CO local Kim Smoyer of Smoyer & Associates. It’s a course for innovation project managers, consultants, intrapreneurs, and entrepreneurs who want to have more productive strategy, idea generation, and




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    Confederacy of Creative Effectiveness

    Creative Effectiveness 2017 What if 2017 turned out to be the most creative year of your life? More than creative, what if 2017 was the most creatively effective year of your life? There’s a difference. You can be incredibly creative in terms of self-expression and ideas — without being creatively effective. What good is creativity if it doesn’t get done? Doesn’t find an audience? Doesn’t get put into play? Let’s make 2017 the year you put projects over the goal line. That is, finish projects. There are a lot of horror stories when it comes to great creativity but no finish. A heart breaking example is that of John Kennedy Toole, who wrote the incredible picaresque novel, “A Confederacy of




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    Get a Grip on Innovation — 10 Questions, 20 Minutes

    Get a Grip on Innovation — 10 Questions, 20 Minutes Ten questions for you to focus on assessing the state of your organization’s innovation program. Twenty minutes to learn something and take action steps. If you think your current program is working, non-existent, or just a disaster — you will learn something by taking this quick survey. Yes, there are other ways to assess innovation culture that are more thorough (such as Teresa Amabile Ph.D. “KEYS“). However, the purpose of these ten questions is to get you off the dime and into action around your innovation program/department. If these questions raise any red flags, you might need to go deeper, perhaps using a qualitative approach. But in the interest of




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    Invest in Innovation Skill Building

    Invest 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. The art and science of developing valid business ideas has a formula. There are variations but at the heart of it you have: Problem Framing, Ideation, Idea Development, and Actions. Within each of those areas there are tools and techniques. If you know them, and use them in the context of an innovation




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