Meetings and Events

    Seven Ways to Prepare for Effective Brainstorming

    seven ways to preparev1Want an Innovation Breakthrough?
    Prepare, Then Brainstorm

    Most brainstorming doesn’t work.

    The literature bashing brainstorming is extensive. Sessions often fail, and there are many reasons. Ideas are still needed to fill pipelines! I’m going to focus on one problem with brainstorming in this post: lack of preparation.

    The Boy Scouts have it right. Be Prepared.

    There is not enough mental preparation done with participants before brainstorming/idea generation sessions. Nor is there enough attention paid to planning and facilitating the exercises and stimulus in the session itself. Start thinking of idea generation as a project that takes a few weeks, not a one day session.

    Use Diverse Springboards to Scaffold Thinking.

    Fresh combinations of concepts are what creates breakthrough ideas. This is the essence of innovation. To get there you’ve got to put a lot of diverse data points, springboards, in front of participants. Springboards should be provided to participants in a constant stream, before, and during, the session. These are the dots to connect. Interesting conceptual dots, related to your challenge, and weirdly, un-related to the challenge are “Scaffolding.”

    “Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”

    Dr. Seuss

    Take a hint from Dr. Seuss. People need to think more, more often, and over a longer period of time. Plan this! Plan for participants to think alone, together, out loud, and quietly. Plan visual elements, written and kinesthetic exercises. Have them experience the emotion behind the challenge. If this is done, the brain will make fresh combinations and innovative ideas emerge.

    Seven Ways to Better Prepare for Idea Generation:

    1. Assign at least three hours of homework over a few weeks. Have participants do research, and virtual ideation, alone.
    2. Send the research ahead! Give them time to read, absorb, and jot down ideas, alone.
    3. Get smart outsiders involved. Expand the thinking team. Broaden the range of knowledge in the project.
    4. Get the platform question right. Unfocused questions mean useless ideas. Overly focused questions means narrow thinking.
    5. Plan a live session that sparkles all day long. It’s got to be dynamic, full of variety, unique stimulus, scaffolding, and fun.
    6. Balance the day plan with introvert friendly activities. These sessions need quiet and reflection in addition to all the shouting.
    7. Get a world class facilitator. Somebody who can help you do the other six items on this list.

    Better session plans and facilitation require a person trained in those skills. The exercises you conduct with participants, before and after the session, need to stretch thinking and bring in outside concepts and trends. This is not trivial to plan, and it won’t be done well without deep background in concept blending tools and techniques. If you don’t have these skills in-house, hire me to do the session, and/or to train your people.

    Bottom line: If you don’t prepare idea generation sessions creatively, differently, and carefully — you will fail.

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    Training is an Innovation Accelerant II

    Do You Wish To Accelerate Innovation? Get Training! When I step into a room to facilitate an innovation, strategy, or idea generation session I always find a great deal of energy. What I also often find is inexperience. Inexperience in: the kind of divergent thinking necessary to innovate, in specific meeting behaviors and facilitation skills, and in innovation process, approaches and frameworks Here are details regarding a half day Innovation Intensive course I’m conducting at Workspring in Chicago on October 27th, 2017. Energy, motivation, and inspiration are important factors in getting innovation rolling. But none of them, or all of them together, are enough to overcome untrained thinking, poor session facilitation, and an un-anchored or non-existent innovation approach. Your innovation




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    Free Workshop at Workspring Chicago — Creative Choices, Innovative Results

    Notice: Gregg Fraley Speaking at Workspring Chicago Wednesday August 2, 2017 — 8 am to 10 am The free workshop at Workspring Chicago will focus on creative behaviors that enhance creative effectiveness. The habits/behaviors and associated tools and techniques apply to both personal and business roles. As the graphic says, you’ll learn approaches you can immediately use. Highly useful for innovation teams, team leaders, and anyone who wants to enhance their creative effectiveness. This will be presented by Gregg Fraley, author of Jack’s Notebook, co-inventor of IdeaKeg, and originator of MoshPit Innovation. RSVP with Workspring: rsvp@workspring.com Cheers.




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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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    Intrapreneurship Chicago 2016

    Authentically Different Conference In recent years I’ve become a bit anti-conference. I still go to some but I find the formats tired. The formula favors big name authors and speakers who sometimes miss the mark. The agenda is so jammed you don’t have time to talk to your peers. The social events are fun, but a bit… forced. So, you may be surprised when I bend over backwards to promote Intrapreneurship Chicago 2016.  The event is going to be held at the TechNexus accelerator in the River North area. Chicago area innovators and intrapreneurs, take note. June 22! This conference is authentically different. And highly useful if you are a real working Intrapreneur. 90% of the conference attendees will be




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    The Flaming Lips and Economic Development

    Consider Attending the Creativity World Forum 2015 As many of you know I’ve participated in the annual State of Creativity Forum in Oklahoma for several years. I’ve written here previously about how effective their model is in getting broad-based involvement, participation, and attendance. This is arguably the most successful creativity conference in the world right now. Those interested in the creativity and innovation field should attend Creativity World Forum 2015 if at all possible. It’s affordable, the content is superb, and it’s a great networking opportunity. It’s in just a few weeks, so register, and make plans now to arrive in Oklahoma City for the March 31st one day event. The illustrious Sir Ken Robinson is  returning as a keynoter (he




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    FAQ Re: Dr. Alan Black

    Greetings from gray and chilly Three Oaks, Michigan. As gloomy as it is, I’m grateful to be here and free. Freedom is not something we should take for granted. Later this morning I’ll take a walk outside around my pond and say prayers for my friend Alan Black. I might take a photograph. When he’s released I hope he’ll come visit me here so we can enjoy a walk outside together — and photograph whatever catches our eye. Below is the latest information from Friends of Alan Black. The FAQ pretty much says it all. Much of this has been covered in news reports, but FAB thought it would be helpful to put all the facts into one document. Alan’s




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    Help Detained USA Citizen In Abu Dhabi

    This is a departure for this blog. While there is a direct connection to creativity and innovation it is essentially a press release written by concerned leaders in the creativity and innovation international community. One of our own, Dr. Robert Alan Black, has been detained in Abu Dhabi. The details are below. My request is that if you are so moved, please contact the offices of your elected officials. USA citizens can find contact information here.  Press Release For Immediate Release Contact:                     Rosemary Rein Phone number:       239-910-3354 Email:                         rosemaryrein@rosemaryrein.com   American Creativity Expert Detained In Abu Dhabi Friday October 31, 2014 – Athens, Georgia. Dr. Robert Alan Black, an Athens resident, is being held in Al Wathba prison in




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    Leaders Hate the Concept of Creativity

    SNARK ALERT I’m not trying to be snarky. I am snarky. I’ve always been snarky.  I like being snarky, it’s fun. Here’s the problem: Being snarky is a bit like being the boy that cried wolf. When you’re being a smart ass just for practice you often stretch the truth. Okay, I often throw the truth out the window to be funny or to shock — but not in this blogg! As a creativity and innovation writer I suppress my inner Snark in order to be taken seriously. But now I think I’m doing you a disservice. The value of SNARK is it can be a wakeup call. As an innovation thought leader, I’m here to help. You can improve, you can




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    Take Advantage — Innovate More for Less

    I’ve done 385 general interest creativity and innovation posts in the last few years. This post is different — it contains a commercial offer — albeit a fairly innovative one. If you’re not interested please ignore this post. Here’s the offer — I’ve decided to double the value I provide to my customers by offering a good old fashioned two-for-one deal. Why? I want to generate more buzz about my service offerings. To generate more buzz I want the perception of my value to be exceptional. So exceptional that people will talk , tweet, and refer. There is no sleight of hand here, I’ll be working twice for one fee. For both services delivered I won’t be cutting preparation time or the customization I




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