Innovation companies that have been successful in achieving consistent high growth have been companies who have used innovation to improve the business and create lasting value.en-GBThu, 27 Apr 2017 13:35:03 -0000You CAN Tell a Book By It's Cover<p> THIS JUST IN! Idea Champions is one of the few companies in the world that teaches people how to become masterful brainstorm facilitators. Since we couldn't agree on which image to use for the cover of the book, we made eight different covers -- and people get to choose the one they like the most. So far, the dog covers have been the most popular. Woof! More about the training here </p>Thu, 27 Apr 2017 13:35:03 -0000Asking the Right Questions Can Frame a Successful Transformation<p>When plotting strategy, leaders should worry less about solutions and more about identifying the precise problem they are trying to solve.</p>Thu, 27 Apr 2017 05:00:00 -0000Creativity Late in Life<p> Creativity Late in Life from Mitchell Ditkoff Lots of people, over 50, think it's "too late" for them to be creative. Not true! You want proof? Check out the slide show above -- excerpts from a fabulous book by Gene Cohen: The Creative Age</p>Wed, 26 Apr 2017 18:39:31 -0000The Art of Using Story as a Way to Communicate Big, Hairy Ideas<p> A priest, a penguin, and a newspaper reporter walk into a bar. The penguin orders a shot of Red Eye. The priest starts juggling three flaming chain saws. The newspaper reporter turns to the bartender, smiles and says: "I know there's a story here somewhere." And yes, there is. There are stories everywhere. As the poet, Muriel Ruykeser once said, "The world is not made of atoms. The world is made of stories." Almost everyone in business these days -- at least the people responsible for selling big, hairy ideas -- knows that the difference between success and failure often depends on what kind of story is told -- and how well. Content may be King. But it is Story that built the kingdom. Or as Steve Jobs once put it, "The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller."The question, these days, isn't whether or not storytelling works. It does. It's worked for thousands of years. If you have any doubt, just ask your local neuroscientist. The question is how do you tell a really effective story -- one that not only informs and entertains, but gets results -- the kind of results that opens minds, influences behavior, and is remembered. And this is precisely where the proverbial plot thickens. Why? Because most people don't think they know how to tell good story. At least, that's the story they keep telling themselves -- that they don't have the chops or experience to tell a good story. Spoiler alert! Not true. Social scientists tell us that 65% of our conversations boil down to story -- narrative accounts with a beginning, middle, and end. Throw in a likable hero, a setting, some obstacles, a few juicy details, plot twists, and a resolution, and voila, you've got yourself a story! Simply put, storytelling is "an unconscious competency" -- something human beings naturally do. The thing is -- we don't know how we do it. Like breathing, for example. Or thinking. Or riding a bicycle. But just because we can't explain how we do it, doesn't mean we're not good at it. </p>Wed, 26 Apr 2017 15:34:11 -0000Ten Simple Ways to Establish a User Friendly Ideation Process<p> Let's assume for a moment that you and your company value BIG IDEAS -- the kind of ideas that have the potential to change the game, differentiate you from the competition, and spark some major business growth. Let's also assume that you and your company are not at a loss for these BIG IDEAS -- that they regularly make their appearance via any number of ways: brainstorming sessions, early morning team meetings, or simply the spontaneous epiphanies of the wild and crazy people down the hall. That's the good news. The not-so-good-news is that the appearance of these BIG IDEAS are not only random, but too often subject to implosion, sabotage, neglect, rabbit holes, premature evaluation, pissing contests, blame, turf wars, and countless other forms of interpersonal and organizational weirdness. Look at it this way: You are a gardener doing your best to grow some watermelons, but the hose you are using to water the watermelons has many holes in it. No matter how often you turn on the faucet, how early you make it out to your garden, or how deftly you point the hose, very little water comes out the other end. The result? Too much dies on the vine. Yes, it's always possible that a sudden rainstorm will save your ass, but praying for rain is not exactly a dependable way to ensure a pipeline of powerful, business growth ideas -- the proverbial "front-end of innovation". Bottom line, if you want to increase the odds of developing BIG IDEAS that will turn into new products, new services, and better ways of doing business, you will need to plug the holes or, better yet, invest in a new hose. What ARE the holes? The countless ways in which your company's "ideation process" routinely springs leaks. And here, oh aspiring innovator, is where the plot thickens. Highly creative people have a tendency to avoid "process" like the plague, turning a blind eye to anything that requires them to pay attention to an "organized approach". To them, this stuff is usually interpreted as a "</p>Tue, 25 Apr 2017 13:57:17 -0000The New Ways to Win in Emerging Markets<p>In emerging markets, companies must offer an environment conducive not only to economic success but to good living as well.</p>Mon, 24 Apr 2017 05:00:00 -0000How Much Innovation Should We Juice Out of Engineers?<p>Are the bells and whistles on already highly engineered products just decadence, or are they a small price to pay for the gadgets we need?</p>Mon, 24 Apr 2017 05:00:00 -0000FREE ONLINE POLL: How to Improve Your Company's Ideation Process<p> Here's the simplest way to figure out how to improve your company's ideation process: Enter Idea Champions' FREE IDEATION POLL CONTEST. Just send an email to office@ideachampions and write "Ideation Poll" in the subject line. We'll put your name in the proverbial hat on May 1st and, blindfolded, pick out three winners. If YOU are one of the winners, we'll send you a link to our ideation poll which you, in turn, will forward to your workforce. A week after that we'll send you the results along with a some useful "food for thought". The value? You will better understand where the holes are in your company's idea generation bucket so you can patch them up or begin figuring out how to get a different bucket. Sneaky marketing shtick from us? None. Nada. Zero. Zilch. What our clients say about us. 50 quotes on the power of ideas More about ideation process </p>Sat, 22 Apr 2017 18:34:02 -0000Be Frightened of Old Ideas<p> About John Cage Idea Champions Want to upgrade your brainstorming? 50 quotes on the power of ideas If you google "brainstorm training" </p>Sat, 22 Apr 2017 04:38:35 -0000NOT FINDING WHAT YOU'RE DIGGING FOR? Move the Hole!<p> I like what Edward deBono once said about the phenomenon of creative people trying to get results, but coming up empty (and I paraphrase). "If you are digging for oil and don't find any, move the hole!" Pretty simple, eh? Sometimes, it seems as if aspiring innovators get fixated on a particular approach and, no matter what happens (or doesn't), they just keep doing the same old thing over and over again even when experience reveals that their approach is not working. Of course, it's always possible that other factors are at play: 1. Perhaps the hole you've dug is too shallow and success is only a few shovelfuls away. Digger deeper, then, makes sense. Always possible. 2. Maybe you're digging in the right place, but the tools you're digging with are not the right tools for the job. 3. And, of course, it's always possible that in your effort to discover oil, you don't see the unexpected diamonds and gold coins you stumble upon because everything that is "not oil" is invisible to you. So, let's make this real for a moment. Think of a project you are working on -- one you have passion for whose results have been slower to materialize than you hoped. Got it? Good. Now answer the following before doing any more digging: CAN YOU DIG THIS? 1. What are your instincts telling you about how to proceed? Have you dug the hole deep enough? Might it be time for you to move the hole? And if it is the time to move the hole, where might you move it? What are some new approaches to try? Other places to look? 2. If you sense that you haven't dug deep enough -- that you've been a dilettante, slacker, or half-hearted digger for oil -- what can you do to martial your forces and commit to a more rigorous digging effort? And what support, if any, might you need? 3. If, in your digging adventures, you have stumbled upon some unexpected "finds", but dismissed them because you were only focused on oil, how might you extract the value from your accidental discoveries? By the way, 75% of all</p>Fri, 21 Apr 2017 19:07:04 -0000The 18th Camel<p> A father left 17 camels as an asset for his three sons. When the father passed away, his sons opened up the will. The will of the father stated that the eldest son should receive half of 17 camels while the middle son should receive one third and the youngest son one ninth. As it was not possible to divide 17 into half or 17 by 3 or 17 by 9, the three sons began to fight with each other. Unable to work out their differences, they soon decided to go to a local wiseman, present their problem, and receive his sage counsel. The wiseman, after contemplating the seemingly unresolvable conundrum, excused himself, went home, and returned a few minutes later with one of his own camels which he added to the 17. This increased the total number of camels now to 18. Immediately he began reading the deceased father's will aloud to the three contentious sons. Half of 18 = 9, so he gave the eldest son 9 camels. One-third of 18 = 6, so he gave the middle son 6 camels. One-ninth of 18 = 2, so he gave the youngest son 2 camels. The total number of camels (9 + 6 + 2) given to each of the three sons equaled 17, which left one, extra camel. So the wiseman, with a wry smile on his face, took the extra camel (his!) for himself and rode it home, laughing all the way. Problem solved! FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Every problem has a solution, even though the solution may not be immediately obvious. The challenge is to find the 18th camel -- the so-called "elegant solution." In order for this to happen we must first let go of the assumption that there IS no solution. There is ALWAYS a solution. Always. It just may not be visible to you in the moment. What problem of yours do you need to look at from a different angle? What is your 18th camel? And if you can't figure it out by yourself, who can you brainstorm with to arrive at a possible solution? Storytelling as the 18th camel We teach people how to find their 18th camel</p>Thu, 20 Apr 2017 20:10:36 -0000Want to Innovate? Get Hungry!<p> Illustration: gapingvoid Build the appetite with storytelling </p>Thu, 20 Apr 2017 19:40:23 -000050 Awesome Quotes on Possibility<p> 1. "Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible." - St. Francis of Assisi 2. "Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." - Lewis Carroll 3. "The Wright brother flew right through the smoke screen of impossibility." - Charles Kettering 4. "In order to attain the impossible, one must attempt the absurd." - Miguel de Cervantes 5. "The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for the rest of your life. And the most important thing is, it must be something you cannot possibly do." - Henry Moore6. "It's kind of fun to do the impossible!" - Walt Disney 7. "I am where I am because I believe in all possibilities." - Whoopi Goldberg 8. "What is now proved, was once only imagined." - William Blake 9. "Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't." - Mark Twain 10. "The limits of the possible can only be defined by going beyond them into the impossible." - Arthur C. Clarke 11. "Never tell a young person that anything cannot be done. God may have been waiting centuries for someone ignorant enough of the impossible to do that very thing." - John Andrew Holmes 12. "God created a number of possibilities in case some of his prototypes failed. That is the meaning of evolution." - Graham Greene 13. "Whether you believe you can or not, you're right." - Henry Ford 14. "Most people are not really free. They are confined by the niche in the world that they carve out for themselves. They limit themselves to fewer possibilities by the narrowness of their vision." - V.S. Naipaul 15. "I don't regret a single excess of my responsive youth. I only regret, in my chilled age, certain occasions and possibilities I didn't embrace." - Henry James 16. "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few." - Shunryu Suzuk</p>Thu, 20 Apr 2017 04:11:07 -0000For Startups, Giving Up Control Is Key to Creating Value<p>Young firms are valued significantly higher and attract more financing after their founders relinquish some power.</p>Wed, 19 Apr 2017 05:00:00 -0000The Marriage of Zany and Practical<p> Feedback from Charter Manufacturing in response to an Innovation workshop of ours with 27 of their high potential leaders of the future. "Idea Champions has the unique quality of being able to combine zany out-of-box thinking with a pragmatic approach that appealed to every participant in the session. Even those who relish the status quo and the proven way of doing things couldn't help but relax, laugh. and lean into their untapped creativity. Participants left the session feeling hopeful and powerful about their individual ability to create and innovate." - Maureen Toshner, Director, Organizational Development & Learning Idea Champions What our other clients say Our Co-Founders new website</p>Tue, 18 Apr 2017 14:47:18 -0000Frequently Asked Questions About Storytelling at Work<p> 1. WHO IS THIS BOOK FOR? Anyone interested in the power of personal storytelling to awaken, inspire, and communicate a meaningful, memorable message -- especially around "moments of truth" on the job. It's also for forward-thinking business leaders who want to elevate the conversation in the workplace and radically increase the odds of peer-to-peer learning happening on a daily basis. 2. WHY IS THIS BOOK TIMELY? Because the story being told, these days, is predominantly bad news. Terrorism, war, greed, corruption, political infighting, and corporate collapse rule the airways. But something else is also happening and that "something else" too often remains unspoken -- individual stories of insight, breakthrough, kindness, courage, innovation, learning, and wisdom. The more these stories are told, the faster the world's story will change. As the poet Muriel Rukeyser once said, "The world is not made of atoms. The world is made of stories." 3. WHY IS STORYTELLING SO POWERFUL? For the same reason why the sun is powerful. It sheds light, gives warmth, and sustains life. Storytelling is the simplest, most direct way to deliver a meaningful, memorable message. Deconstruct any scripture or holy book and you will discover that story is the DNA. Story is how our ancestors, since the beginning of time, communicated their wisdom. And story is how we teach our children. In the business world, where "time is money", storytelling is the most cost-effective way to cut to the chase. 4. WHY DID YOU WRITE THIS BOOK? Because after 27 years of being an innovation provocateur to a wide variety of Fortune 500, mid-sized, and small companies, I realized that the most effective way to spark the innovation mindset was to tell stories. And while there is always a place for case studies, data dumps, pep talks, and PowerPoint shows, it is storytelling, I have discovered, that gets to the heart of the matter in the least amount of time. 5. HOW DOES STORYTELLING SPARK INNOVATION? Innovation</p>Mon, 17 Apr 2017 19:51:58 -0000Winning the Fundraising Game<p> If you are a mover and a shaker for a non-profit, arts organization, start up, or other capital-constrained enterprise, chances are good that you spend way too much time thinking about the "F" word -- fundraising. While the mission of your organization may be highly expansive, the money is takes to support that mission is, all too often, highly contracted -- especially these days, with government cut backs and an uncertain economy. Enter Idea Champions' Winning the Fundraising Game, a thought provoking, custom designed, 4 - 8 hour creative thinking session that cuts through the "same old same old" syndrome and catalyzes bold, new, actionable possibilities. Unlike most brainstorming sessions, Winning the Fundraising Game does not just focus on the generation of ideas -- or what some innovation mavens refer to as divergence. It also focuses on convergence -- what it takes to turn those bold, new ideas into measurable results. HOW WE GET RESULTS 1. NEEDS ASSESSMENT: The first thing we do is learn about your organization's past and current fundraising efforts -- what's worked, what hasn't, and why. At the same time, we also learn about your organization's culture, so the design of our session is appropriate to the mood and mindset of participants. Our needs assessment process includes one-on-one phone interviews with a cross section of key stakeholders, as well as an online poll that gives all participants a chance to share their perspective. 2. CUSTOM DESIGN: Once we're clear about your hoped for outcomes, we design the session. Variables that impact the design include the number of attendees, length of session, meeting space, collective sense of urgency, goals, and the willingness of participants to go beyond the status quo. 3. FACILITATION: Idea Champions consultants are highly experienced facilitators of group process. Since 1987, we have been designing and leading dynamic creative thinking, teambuilding, visioning, and leadership development sessions for almost e</p>Sat, 15 Apr 2017 17:08:56 -0000Listening is a Superpower<p> As an innovation provocateur and storyteller, I am continually fascinated at how rare real listening is in most organizations. Everyone seems to be moving so fast or just WAITING for their turn to speak, that real listening rarely happens. Methinks, it goes all the way back to our childhood where we were deeply appreciated for speaking our first word, but never appreciated for the first time we listened. 24 quotes on good communication Illustration:</p>Fri, 14 Apr 2017 14:00:05 -0000How TiVo Confronted the Disruptor's Dilemma<p>Upstart firms that want to break into an established sector often must collaborate with the very power brokers they seek to unseat.</p>Thu, 23 Mar 2017 05:00:00 -0000Two Simple Concepts for Satisfying Customers<p>Get to know your highest-volume customers, and fill the satisfaction gaps that they won't tell you about.</p>Mon, 20 Mar 2017 05:00:00 -0000