Improvisation

    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.

    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 project — you will be more effective. If you don’t, well, you might get lucky, but generally, you will fail.

    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 system 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, and Kodak, etc.

    Specifically, 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 — and 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. Challenge Mapping might be the most effective problem framing tool ever invented and yet few people really know it. You can learn it in about an hour. Why wouldn’t you learn it?

    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 over a few weeks of ideation time. It’s also better to use techniques like BrainWriting, or even more advanced tools like 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, again, why wouldn’t you invest in learning the tools?

    Story is another huge opportunity in terms of learning — for branding, messaging, marketing, and even just understanding who you are. Story has a first 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. And no, you don’t have to be funny.

    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 alone 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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    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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    Five Magic Imagination Guidelines

    Five Magic Imagination Guidelines You hear it so often that it becomes one of those things that you really don’t think about it. “Use your imagination” is the phrase or thought that I’m talking about. I believe that many of us actually fear our own imagination. That’s tragic, don’t be afraid. It occurs to me that most people have the desire, deep down, to use their imagination more — but have no idea how. Here’s how. First of all Access your imagination more often. Do it deliberately. If you ask your imagination for ideas or visions once a year it’s a bit like that faucet in the back of the house you never use. When you turn it on, it’s




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    21 Rules for Innovation Team Building

    I revised this “rule of thumb” list for a client and she suggested I re-share it in a blog post. This list is the accumulated wisdom of many years and it includes thinking from colleagues in the innovation space. Its target is the innovation team leader, but there are lessons for all types of team members here. The big change from the previous version is the emphasis on projects. It’s the key to Innovation in my view, from culture change to positive team dynamics to effectiveness of an overall innovation program. It’s the one thing of innovation — doing Projects. So here goes: 21 Rules for Innovation Team Building 1. A strong bold project initiative, with a clear vision for




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    Innovation Facilitation — Death is Easy, Magic Takes Training

    Three Essentials for Magical Innovation Facilitation An essential ingredient to successful innovation projects is good facilitation. Who could argue with that? Innovation combines individual and group activities. Good group collaboration is not a given. Even individual activities need coordination with the group effort. You really need an inspiring, confident, well-trained facilitator to enable innovation. I’m talking about running and managing strategy meetings, ideation sessions, virtual sessions (using IMS), concept writing sessions, and other group work. A good facilitator makes a world of difference in the results of these group meetings and activities. And yet, in the long list of things that can go wrong in innovation initiatives, it’s often the one that is overlooked or taken for granted. The problem




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    Improv and Innovation Do Mix

    Improv and Innovation do mix — and it’s not funny. You don’t have to be funny for Improv training to be useful in innovation. There are two things holding back more business people from pushing the Improv training button: 1.) They believe that Improv is difficult and that you need to have a funny bone, and, 2.) They believe that while Improv might be a good soft skill there is no direct and near term benefit to innovation (or other corporate goals). Classic improvisation games can help solve serious business problems and you don’t have to be particularly clever or funny. The benefits of using Improv — if done properly — are immediate. If you want the specifics of how,




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    Training is an Innovation Accelerant

    Creativity and innovation training is a highly effective accelerant for business results. When I step into a room to facilitate an innovation, strategy, or idea generation session I nearly always find a great deal of energy. What I also often find is inexperience — in the kind of thinking necessary to innovate. Successful managers and leaders are promoted up the ladder because of their great analytical thinking skills. Day to day, operationally, that’s what’s called for and that’s what’s rewarded. The bad news is the more imaginative and divergent thinking required at the front end of innovation is rarely used and almost never rewarded. That’s why those sessions often start with a great deal of pizazz but fade into lethargy




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    Indigan Storytellers Debut

    I had the pleasure of participating in the debut performance evening of the Indigan Storytellers group last Friday night. As Rocky Balboa once said “you shoulda been there.” It was an intimate evening of exquisitely told stories coupled with fine hand-crafted whiskey. The location was Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks, Michigan. The room was packed and a good time was had by all. I report on the event here for two reasons. First, because Storytelling as an art form is creativity of the highest order. Innovators of all kinds have much to learn about the craft as a method to elaborate new inventions, messages, and brands. Learning how to write and then perform a 10 minute story is an exercise




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    Ideational Speaker, Gregg Fraley

    I do keynotes on creativity and innovation topics — and this is not something I hide. It’s all over my website and I do my best to promote my speaking on FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and in my blog postings. So, it’s not unusual for me to be confronted — at a cocktail party or a business meeting — with the comment: So you’re a “Motivational Speaker.” It’s a fair observation, but it’s really…inexact when it comes to describing what I actually do. It’s not Wrong, but there’s more to my speaking than motivation. My talks are about ideas, so really, I’m an Ideational Speaker.  Yes, I make an effort to motivate people to be more creative and innovative. So, I




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    Orin Davis Report from World Innovation Forum

    The following are thoughts from Orin Davis, Phd, who is covering the World Innovation Forum. As always, Orin makes some good points, notes from talks from the Mayor of Asheville, NC, the On Your Feet Improv group, and Michael Martin of Vibram. So, here’s what you missed at WIF. ****** Ideas from the World Innovation Forum  (by Orin Davis, Phd) With some speakers, you just have to be there to really get the marrow of what they have to say, but here are some piquant ideas from speakers at the World Innovation Forum:  Terry Bellamy — Mayor of Asheville, NC Make an investment in a sustainability endeavor, and keep reusing the savings in other sustainability endeavors to have sustainable infrastructure




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