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    The One Question Cultural Survey

    Some would say that flying is "fun."

    There is growing attention to the idea that innovation is supported, or not, by that amorphous beast organizational culture. It’s not a new idea, Mel Rhodes defined “Press” as one of his “4 P’s” of group creativity in 1953 (the others being People, Products, and Process). Who knows where Rhodes came up with “Press” — Press is really culture. Stop yawning!

    The wrong kind of organizational culture can kill innovation.

    If you’re an individual, consider that you have a personal culture you’ve built up around you (some might call it your life) so in a way the following applies to You to.

    Get the best engineers and managers and marketeers, have great product ideas, and great process…and you can still fail. Culture is either rocket fuel for innovation, or corn syrup gumming up the works. Expertise matters, but people with expertise, ideas, and good plans often fail. Think  Blockbuster.

    Organizational culture is a difficult thing to pin down. I’ve heard that large sums of money have been spent to do organizational cultural assessment — with extensive surveys and interviewing. Probably not a bad idea if there are challenges with productivity and effectiveness, it might help find out just what needs addressed. On the other hand it’s a bit like the squirrel pop-up game at Chuck-E-Cheese, you bang down on  one crappy cultural issue, and another one pops up. Culture change is daunting, certainly more attempts fail than succeed. Think of diets.

    If you’re a CEO I have a simple suggestion — a one question cultural survey. Ask this one question to a cross-section of employees and you’ll get a very quick sense of how the culture is working. People reading for yourself, the same question applies. Ready?

    “Are you having fun?”

    If the answer evokes positive responses, smiles, a sense of excitement — you’re on the right track.

    If the answers are careful, qualified, hesitant, “don’t know” or “no” — you’re not.

    Fun is nearly a bad word in some cultures and those are exactly the kind of cultures people avoid, as employees or as customers. Those are “go home at 5″ cultures where people don’t really want to be there. Fun isn’t about jokes and playing games (although when that’s happening people just might be learning something) it’s about people who have a positive emotional involvement with what they are doing. Fun is like a thermometer, it’s a signal. Fun usually means they care. People who care meet challenges head on and solve them. People who don’t care, fail.

    I’m here to deliver value with this blog — this one question survey for your organization will save you countless thousands in consultancy or personal coaching fees. However, if you really want to spend that money, call me!

    If you’re not having fun you have a problem. If you’re in a non-fun group, you need to find a purpose with some juice. If you’re a person, well, it’s the same (join an improv class, now).

    “Time flies when you’re having fun” is the old saw, I might add the less lyrical, but also true phrase, “Innovation happens when you’re having fun.”

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    10 Trends In Innovation (March 2011)

    It occurred to me that as a cultural trend spotter and scanner, I’ve not posted about current trends in my own field of Innovation.  No time like the present!  Like any industry or concept things fall in and out of fashion. This is just my view, but a fairly well informed one. So, here are my 10 thoughts about innovation trends, in no particular order: (see below for more thinking about each item) 10 Trends In Innovation (March 2011) 1. Creativity is getting more lip service but less action. 2. Risk Aversion is still very much part of the big company scene. 3. Lack of Resources is the number one excuse for not innovating. 4. Idea Management Systems and Product

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    7 Reasons To Use Twitter

    I’ve been asked by intelligent people why I bother with Twitter. The short answer, for me, is — marketing. But, it’s not only marketing and that glib answer will hardly suffice for those who really are seeking to understand the phenomena.  I passed 7,000 followers this past week, and I consider that an accomplishment. Now, not everybody needs to have that kind of Following, in fact, depending on your goals, 100 or less might be exactly what you want.  Your goals with Twitter will be different if you’re playing for yourself, or for an organization. They’ll be different depending on your personal desires. This post is more about how and why an individual might get to Tweeting, see my 7

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    Curiously Persistent, Hipster Blog

    A quick post about a blog I’ve been following for some time. Curiously Persistent is a worthwhile blog to check out; it’s chock full of interesting posts about marketing, market research, trends, some book reviews, and other “curious” bits.  It is invariably short, punchy, and fascinating.  It rarely dissapoints; this is fresh material. A nice piece on business cards just this morning. Hats off to Simon Kendricks the jazz hipster who writes and shares his wide ranging musings — they’ve kept me persistently curious. You can follow Simon on Twitter as well — @curiouslyp Bon Soir…or should I say, “just one more question…”

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    My Secret Wish, a Cartoon Series

    Done in Costa’s yesterday…

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    Snow, An "Idea" Opportunity for the UK & Ireland ("SID" Initiative)

    The UK and Ireland are caught in a web of snow, cold weather, and lack of preparation. Let’s face it this kind of snow is not supposed to happen and the UK/Ireland are simply not prepared to deal with the kind of snow that Chicago and Buffalo routinely get — and handle. Not enough salt, not enough trucks, not enough knowledge of how to cope are the culprits. Government officials and corporations should learn from this awful experience, but for now, 45% of the countries workers are at home sitting on their hands. Most of them would really prefer to be working. The loss of productivity is massive and will put a dent in the fragile recovery — if action

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    Silent iPhone Application Brainstorm… cartoon

    I occasionally post my notebook drawings.  I’ll let this one speak for itself…

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    Back to Work Drawing for Innovators

    A lot of innovators take time off to recharge their batteries, and that’s a good idea. Especially if you’re working on challenges that are really vexing you.  Fresh experiences and time for incubation often lead to breakthroughs. However, now, it’s fall and it’s time to put away the beach towels and get back to more deliberate work. Still, it’s not wrong to wax wistful about the good times we’ve had. Here’s a drawing that captures the feeling for me, take a look and have your own moment to savor the summer one last time. Then, get to work, it will be the holidays before we know it and if you want to get anything done this year you’d better do

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    Innovation – It's a Chain of Events

    MJSI, Inc. – Innovation in Water Conservation I’m not what you call a great “do-it-yourselfer”.  In fact, I’m a Bozo when it comes to home repairs.  On occasion, I’ve nearly killed myself with power tools.  However, necessity is having a commode out on the weekend, in the countryside, with guests coming. The toilet was running water, and in trying to fix it, I broke the arm of the thing that holds up the ball thing.  Toilet now out of commission. Wife very unhappy. I went to Menards (as in “save big money at Menard’s”) in Michigan City with fear, uncertainty, and doubt. I thought maybe I could buy just the arm and the float and replace that.  I picked up

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    Ignore Everybody – The World According to Hugh MacLeod

    There is an awful lot of sanctimonious crap that gets handed down with regard to creativity. The “truth” of what matters with regard to creativity (and personal innovation) is much harder to arrive at because, really, self-expression is very different for all of us.  Real wisdom about creativity, the truth so to speak, is hard to come by.  After all this is a world that sells millions of copies of The Secret, which says wishing and believing is all it takes to achieve your dreams. I believe it takes wishing and believing, but it also takes structure, hard work, and good choices to leverage one’s creativity.  Everyone is creative, but not everyone knows how to be creative. I just finished

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