cartoon

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

SixWaysDepressionv1Innovation 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 just talking about Depression with a big D here, I’m talking about the more subtle darkness that demotivates us; makes us average. Depression with a little “d” can still be devastating.

This denial of dark feelings and moods might be the biggest unsaid, unrecognized, enemy of innovation.

I have a public speaking and colleague Steve Siebold who talks about mental toughness, and yes, sticking to something even in dark emotional times is a key to success. But that’s easier said than done.

Maybe it’s difficult because innovation means change. Change is normally difficult and the stress can trigger dark thoughts. Then we resist the change, and quit, or, don’t move forward with that innovation project. Dr. Michael Kirton tells us that the motivation to start innovation is usually an emergency. Why do we wait until then? It’s human nature I guess and getting ahead of changes we need to make is a life skill AND an innovation skill.

I don’t have any magic solutions here. I do have a Six Ideas for Coping with Little “d”  Depression — how to manage emotional lows as you work innovation projects:

  1. As a starter, don’t ignore it. Ignoring how you’re feeling about your project is a recipe for disaster down the road. You’ll quit or blow up a project because you haven’t coped with what’s going on. Call it by it’s name, don’t deny the darkness. If it’s really bad, get professional help.
  2. If there are actions to take to feel better, take them. Exercise can help.  A friendly ear can help. Sometimes more complete immersion can help — double down. Finding a way to play with the challenges helps. Take actions. Get creative with finding actions you can take.
  3. Keep working. As much as possible keep to a schedule, keep working your project steps. Breakthrough’s often happen when you least suspect it. Unless you’re critically depressed, keep working, because things won’t happen, results won’t accrue, unless you do. Julia Cameron related a story about how writing just two pages a day can get you to a movie script draft in just 90 days. Keep after it.
  4. Change something. Routine can work for us, and it can also work against us. Find things you can change while still continuing to work. I have a friend who writes his best work in crowded coffee shops. He doesn’t want to talk to anyone but he likes people around. A small change can work wonders.
  5. Reach out to your colleagues. People rarely announce they’re depressed, down, feeling bad… and yet, if you observe and listen to your colleagues you may get the message. If you have a colleague that’s in a dark valley, reach out.
  6. Use Creative Problem Solving. Read Jack’s Notebook for the particulars, it’s also known as CPS.

That’s all I have on this for now. I do feel better getting this topic written about (I guess action, continuing to work even when you don’t feel like it, really does work.)

 

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




Read More..

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




Read More..

Nine Ways to Play at Work

Nine Ways to Play At Work (see list below) The idea that one should invoke a sense of play around challenges is not a new one. Tim Brown of IDEO did that great TED speech on play, and there have been several more TED play-centric talks (Stuart Brown, John Cohn, Sue Palmer) all variations on the theme. Sunni Brown’s talk on Doodling is a personal favorite because she gets specific about how one can begin to be more creatively playful with problem solving. An emerging trend in business is using improvisation games as the basis for team building and problem solving. The work of Del Close, who shaped the serious play of long form Improv and Viola Spolin, who invented




Read More..

10 Essential Elements of an Innovation Mandate

Getting a Mandate to Innovate is Key Larger companies typically have an innovation process in place. They don’t always work, but the majority of the Fortune 1000 has some kind of innovation process or system. There is an implied consent then, to innovate, at those organizations. There are people, budgets, expectations. At smaller companies, the Mis-Fortune 5000 as I sometimes jest, there is often not a process in place. In many of these still sizable firms innovation tends to be a reaction to an emergency, or a sporadic effort that takes a back seat to operations. They often default to incremental improvement of the product or service based on customer demands. A newly appointed Innovation VP or Director at a




Read More..

Innovation Facilitator Tool Kit

I am sometimes asked what a Facilitator should have in their kit bag. Here’s my answer — the Innovation Facilitator Tool Kit list. The items are below in bold. Many have links to where you can source the materials. I’m assuming the facilitator is a hands-on project leader who facilitates meetings, such as idea generation or strategy sessions. I did not take into consideration travel via plane or car. Obviously, some things are more portable than others. Consider this a master list which you can subset for your needs. Some of these items are not available off the shelf retail, so, put this kit together ahead of time so you can focus on design and executing your session plan as




Read More..

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




Read More..

Temporary Innovation Veep

The case for bringing in a temporary Innovation Veep.* “On Call Innovation Director/Mentor/Trainer”? What really changes innovation culture? Are you seeking a change in your innovation approach? Is your organization mired in a non-innovative swamp? First let me say what does NOT change innovation culture. It’s not that these services that I’ll mention below can’t be helpful, they can. But on there own, they will not change innovation at your organization. There’s one thing that will change culture and I talk about that at the bottom of this post. Don’t skip ahead. * Let me acknowledge the ideas of author Michael Foster — we discussed these concepts about a Temp Veep over coffee in San Jose a few weeks ago




Read More..

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




Read More..

Damaged Pure Michigan Brand Impedes Economic Development

Pure Michigan is a Damaged Brand As a Michigan resident I’ve followed the developments in Flint with a mixture of horror, sadness, outrage, and confusion.  This post is not about political blame. Having said that, I don’t deny the political element to the problem; it’s a sad tale of bad decisions on top of bad decisions, and some of those made for purely political reasons. Fact seeking people on both sides of the aisle need to take a very close look at what’s happened. The focus of this post is about the damage that has been done to the state of Michigan’s brand, Pure Michigan.  This is not being talked about, but it’s as damaging in the long run as




Read More..