Today, we’re thankful for our loyal readers and customers, great employees, dedicated partners, and of course, pie. From all of us here at Mindjet, we hope your day is filled with plenty to be grateful for.
Have a wonderful day!
As we head into the next 24 hours of food comas, family, and reflection, it’s worth noting how different tomorrow will be from many Thanksgivings of yore. For one thing, no one is (probably) arriving at their family’s home in covered wagons and bonnets, but even the most traditional of traditions will be heavily impacted by amazing innovations in technology and its many kin.
Here are 7 that we’re thankful for this year.
Not to dismiss the heartfelt purpose behind Thanksgiving, but we all know the truth — after the food has been devoured, the drinks poured, and the football game turned on, those not passed out or interested in touchdowns will likely be looking for some mindless entertainment. And since many of us will not be recovering in the comfort of our own homes, wi-fi plays a very important role in helping people get their much needed internet fix no matter where they happen to be digesting.
2. The Cloud
Speaking of internet, if it weren’t for The Cloud, you might be left listening to your auntie’s extensive Liza Minnelli collection instead of having access to your own tunes. And if you’re into Liza with a Z, you’ll be able to download her greatest hits directly to your library without anyone the wiser.
3. Skype (and Other Video Chat Services)
Thanksgiving is all about
pie family, and video chat services like Skype make it possible to bring people together from all four corners of the world. There’s something very, very special about being able to celebrate your blessings with all of your loved ones, no matter where they are.
Please. How else am I supposed to Instagram my magnificent mashed potato tower?
5. Apps for Everything
Whoever the lucky individual is that’s responsible for cooking the Thanksgiving feast, there’s no doubt that things like recipe apps, cooking videos, food blogs, and even the NFL app will make their job and their day a little bit easier, and more importantly, enjoyable. If you’ve ever attempted to bake using a classic, brick-thick cookbook, you’ll understand.
6. Social Media
For many people, attending family-oriented holidays is bittersweet, since it often means not being around loved ones they aren’t blood related to. And as much as nonsense tends to flood our feeds on a regular basis, social media does give us a glimpse into our friends’ lives, traditions, families, and things that make them happy that really wouldn’t otherwise exist. And that’s pretty amazing.
Not new, but obviously.
The post 7 Innovations We’re Grateful Exist for Thanksgiving This Year appeared first on Conspire: A @Mindjet Publication.
If the primary goal for your organization is growth — and it usually is — keeping an eye on global trends, data, and shifting market dynamics is a must. And though interpreting practices or adjusting them to fit your organizational structure can be challenging, the benefits of looking beyond your market peers for new perspectives and innovation imperatives can be considerable.
Relevancy, Collaboration, and Doing More with Less
While not all companies are created equal, what works for a particular type of business can be effective for many. This report from PwC addresses private sector innovation, but is brimming with statistics, case studies, expert examples and advice from around the globe, which provides valuable information that’s applicable to any business. Some key features include:
- Demographics surrounding where innovation is being made a priority, and the results thereof
- The benefits of mastering external collaboration
- Data exemplifying the relationship between innovation initiatives and key goals
- Why cross-departmental efforts are better grounded and more successful, and how to implement them
- Proof of concept data on innovation-enabling technologies
- How to gauge and measure the success of initiatives
- Building your innovation portfolio
- Funding innovation and handling tax credits
All Data, All the Time
Better, perhaps, than the extensive and thought-provoking narrative of the report are the promising pieces of data it presents. For example:
- 49% of private-company innovators that say they will adopt new technologies to enable innovation.
- 50% of participating companies plan to use innovation to attract and retain top talent.
- 58% plan to engage customers in developing and improving their products.
- 79% of companies gauge the success of their innovation efforts based on how well those efforts contribute to customer satisfaction.
Download the full report here.
Amongst all the talk about why innovation is important, or how every CEO worth the title is “placing a premium” on innovating, it’s increasingly difficult to unearth nuggets of applicable information and strategy.
This is especially true when we talk about connecting efforts with the enterprise. And it isn’t that organizations can’t come up with enough innovative ideas — they are, in droves. But why is there such a disconnect between great ideas and the bottom line? How can companies move past execution hurdles, put the right tools in place, and stop scrambling for competitive advantage?
The entrepreneurial spirit is pretty synonymous with innovation. At minimum, entrepreneurs make a habit of disrupting stuff and executing unique concepts. Bringing that perspective into the fold of an organization requires the identification of ‘intrapreneurs’ — people already part of the company and familiar with its practices and output — that have the potential to act as innovation catalysts. Here’s what you’re looking for:
Fearlessness. Intrapreneurs understand that playing it safe is an excellent way to keep things exactly as they are, and as a result, are willing to take risks.
Willingness to fail. They live and breathe the agile motto: “Go ahead and fail, but never do it the same way twice.”
Articulated passion. They have a vision, they can define it clearly, and the promise of obstacles never dampens their enthusiasm.
Tenacity. When those promised obstacles appear, intrapreneurs work through them, whatever it takes.
Transparency. Communication is never an issue; questions are welcome, suggestions are considered, and needs and milestones are frequently discussed.
Once these inno-champions are vetted, their power to drive meaningful conversations, support teams, and positively impact overall efforts. But to do that, they need the right environment.
A Structure for Stimulation
Alongside finding a tool that facilitates and helps manage innovation (we make one of those, by the way), there are some key things to keep in mind when dealing with your newfound intrapreneurs:
Be (very) specific. We can’t emphasize this enough — innovations become executable when they are tied to clearly defined business or market challenges. It’s not like line fishing, where you cast about blindly hoping to reel in the next big thing. It is like target shooting, where the person taking the shot has a definitive objective. The key? Business leaders throughout the organization must be willing to share their most important issues.
Give them a public space to discuss. Like SpigitEngage, our innovation management platform that helps surface the best ideas through mathematically supported idea graduation and voting processes. This is important because it allows conversations and innovations to be openly assessed, widening potential but minimizing the difficulty of handling multiple ideas and steps.
Allow them to bring together the right skill sets. If your intrapreneurs are to act as true catalysts, they must also be trusted to recognize complementary skill sets, personalities, and organizational needs. They’ll need to be comfortable speaking up when it’s not working, too.
Attract the E-Suite. Executive air cover is beyond important. It facilitates recognition, validation, and the use of resources. Be sure that your chosen intrapreneurs get on the radar for their efforts, and are receiving feedback.
Test, test, test. Repeat. Always plan to establish success metrics and provide proof-of-concept info. It’s not only smart, it helps you track patterns and prevents people from making the same mistake twice.
With the right tools, processes, and people brought together, it’s safe to say that making a purposeful impact on innovation — rather than a lucky one — will be far more effective at helping your company break barriers than just crossing your fingers and shouting buzzwords. If you’d like to learn more, join us for our upcoming Innovation Cafe, “Adding Innovation to Your Organizational DNA.”
The post The Rise of the Intrapreneur: Innovation and the Enterprise appeared first on Conspire: A @Mindjet Publication.
As much as being grateful should not be exclusively celebrated one day per year, we do have a day dedicated to giving thanks coming up pretty soon. And so, to help you prepare for an entire day of looking on the bright side, here are 5 TED talks to get you in a grateful mood.
1. Remember to Say Thank You
In this brief but very meaningful talk, counselor Laura Trice concisely touches on the incredible value of saying thank you — from expressing it to your loved ones and coworkers, to asking for the thanks you yourself deserve.
2. Reconnecting With Compassion
“Our cultural imagination about compassion has been deadened by idealistic images,” says Journalist Krista Tippett, who in this talk, leads the charge for a renewed definition of ‘compassion’. She argues that words matter, and that because they shape the way we perceive ourselves, it’s vital that we redefine our own understanding of what compassion means for humanity.
3. The Why and How of Effective Altruism
What is effective altruism? In this talk, practical ethicist Peter Singer defines it as giving that combines both the heart and the head. Much of his discussion surrounds the philosophy behind taking what we have, comparing it to what we want versus what we need, and mathematically determining how to best use our time and financial position to impact the world for the better. Viewers beware, this video does include a brief segment of graphic footage at the beginning.
4. Poverty, Money, and Love
For many people in the modern world, the disconnect between daily life and global poverty is represented by “a few coins in a jar.” In her talk, entrepreneur Jessica Jackley discusses our need for a change in attitude towards the impoverished, her work with microloans, and how all of us can help empower those in need.
5. A Story About Knots and Surgeons
In this extremely powerful and inspiring talk, Ed Gavagan tells the heartbreaking story of his brush with death, and the resulting and overwhelming gratitude he has for surgical skill.
The post 5 TED Talks to Get You in a Grateful Mood This Thanksgiving appeared first on Conspire: A @Mindjet Publication.
When implementing a business strategy as important — but often ambiguous — as innovation, it’s not enough to simply layer it over existing practices. In order to be successful, innovation needs to be embedded at the roots of a company’s processes, and feed into every branch of the organization.
Our Next Innovation Cafe
In our upcoming webinar on December 4th, Mindjet’s Chief Customer Success Officer Shail Khiyara joins three of our highest-profile customers to discuss how to create sustainable change in your company for greater innovation. The customer panel includes Jeffrey Duke, Innovation Program Manager at BECU, Greg Hicks, Director of IT, Social and Collaborative Innovation at UnitedHealth Group, and Mohan Nair, Chief Innovation Officer at Cambia Health Solutions.
From culture to catalysts, this webinar will address:
- Why innovation is important, why you need to be doing it, and your company’s potential to innovation
- How to empower your employees to contribute ideas more frequently
- Why your organization should be placing a premium on innovation
- Key elements that play a vital role in getting innovation done right.
We look forward to having you join us! Register today.
The post Coming December 4th: Adding Innovation to Your Organizational DNA appeared first on Conspire: A @Mindjet Publication.
Welcome to Conspire’s Super Happy Fun Friday Link Time, a weekly collection of cool discoveries from around the Web. Most times the goal is to get you thinking differently about communication, collaboration, culture, and life in general. Other times, LOLCAT ATTACK! Submissions are welcome, and you can send them to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
What to Know About Turkey Day
In case you haven’t heard, next Thursday is Thanksgiving (a.k.a. Turkey Day, T-Day, Food Coma Parade). Some people don’t celebrate it, some consider it an excuse to eat an entire pie, and for some, it’s a day filled with reminders that life ain’t so bad. Either way, there’s some fascinating history behind this gratifying holiday. For example, many of the traditional meal’s most treasured treats didn’t even exist yet:
“Much of what we consider traditional Thanksgiving fare was unknown at the first Thanksgiving. Potatoes and sweet potatoes hadn’t yet become staples of the English diet, for example. And cranberry sauce requires sugar — an expensive delicacy in the 1600s. Likewise, pumpkin pie was missing — the first English recipe for the dish doesn’t appear until 1654.”
It’s interesting to imagine what T-Day would look like today if some of the original fare — like mussels and pigeons — were still expected at the table.
Mapping Thanksgiving Dishes With Twitter
Since it’s unlikely that the world will see the end of tweet after post after Instagram of everyone’s home-brewed beer and pretentiously-crafted coffees, some companies are utilizing the trend as an opportunity for big data mining. In fact, in tracking mentions of Thanksgiving, tweet-mapping company FloatingSheep has discovered a couple of fun facts: “nobody eats mashed turnips and nobody tweets in the midwest.”
Watch the video for more of their findings, and hipsters? Keep on doing your thing — it’s for the good of global data, after all.
13 Things the Mentally Strong Avoid
At the risk of insulting people who are guilty of not avoiding the things on this list, remember — it’s just science. Plus, if you ever meet anyone that has literally never committed a single one of these not-so-strong-minded sins, I suggest you run away, because they are probably not a human being.
Still, the list and its explanations make a ton of sense, and since life often involves constant learning, presents several ways in which we can all seek to better ourselves, strengthen our minds, and in general, improve every aspect of our lives and interactions. Check it out.
Of all the hundreds of things that affect our productivity on a daily basis — snoozing alarms, interrupting managers, last-minute meetings, the internet — rarely do we consider the impact our desk chair might have on how efficiently we get things done. Unfortunately, that’s a huge mistake; according to research, proper office ergonomics can result in a 400% increase in productivity, and an average of $150,000 in company savings year over year.
This infographic from Ridiculously Efficient showcases these stats and more. So, sit up straight, adjust your screen, and gain some insight into how bad those hunched shoulders really are for you.
The post Effects of Ergonomics on Employee Productivity [INFOGRAPHIC] appeared first on Conspire: A @Mindjet Publication.
Once again, it’s #thoughtleadership Thursday (our last one for a bit — Thanksgiving takes the headlines next week!). On the wire today: why thought leadership isn’t the same as native advertising, the education industry takes the quick-and-intelligent approach, and how encouraging employees to become TLs drives empowerment and innovation.
Don’t Confuse ‘Thought Leadership’ With ‘Branded Content’ or ‘Native Advertising’
“Thought leadership is the platinum standard of content-based reputation enhancement. In its pure form, it is information, research, ideas, expert commentary, and opinion that exist for their own sake, not to prove a direct commercial point.
Thought leadership is indirect. It creates prestige for the organizations that sponsor it through association. Thought leadership tells potential clients and customers, “If we think this deeply, and with great knowledge and expertise, then you will surely want us on your team – we can add significant value to your efforts.”
Thought leadership is best for professional services firms, investment managers, consultants, colleges and universities, and any institution looking to build intellectual capital and create relationships because people find them intelligent, expert, and impressive. It is the most powerful kind of content.”
Our take: Agreed, agreed, agreed. Talking about something a lot doesn’t necessarily make you a thought leader; you must bring new perspective and value to the table, not simply rely on your ability to flood your feeds with a particular keyword.
30 Seconds of Thought Leadership
Although this video archive is quite specific to the education industry, it’s an excellent example of how thought leadership in a nutshell can drive real change, and more than that, change that matters. From tips on riding the waves of technological evolution to barriers and professional development, these quick videos are simple, smart, and effective.
Our take: Better yet, the concept could easily be applied to other industries, and it absolutely should be.
Empowering Employees Through Thought Leadership
From North Dallas Gazette:
Influence is the currency of thought leadership. That’s because an effective thought leader can have a profound effect on the people they influence. As a tool for change, influence has a longer lasting effect than simply giving out orders on the office floor or through e-mail. It can refocus your company and empower your entire workforce. Here are just a few of the ways thought leadership can empower your employees:
• Thought Leadership allows employees to see the bigger picture of the organization by sharing the company’s long-term goals and long standing principles.
• Thought Leadership encourages employees to excel at their responsibilities, inspiring them to come up with solutions that allow them to go above and beyond their roles.
Our take: Although this advice isn’t exactly brand new information, it’s still great information, and a good reminder about the true value of encouraging employees to continuously further their knowledge about industry topics they care about. Smart employees are a given; passionate employees have the power to help companies take control of their future.
There are plenty of ways to up your personal creativity — become one with nature, take glass-blowing lessons, read more, lock yourself in a room with inspirational books. But sometimes we need to kick-start our creative juices for something other than expressing ourselves and feelings. It’s no secret that a certain level of artistry plays a role in successful business practices, and some of the most brilliant concepts are the result of out-of-the-box thinking.
With our new product lineup, we’re confident that the right implementation of Mindjet’s suite can not only facilitate innovation and drive productivity, but that it can get you and your teams thinking differently, too. Here’s how.
1. Mind Mapping Helps You Use More of Your Brain
For the visual thinker, mind mapping just makes sense — but for your average linear task manager, moving from notes to nodes can be both challenging and confusing. But listen up, list-lovers: mind mapping has actually been scientifically linked to enhanced creativity, improved memory, and better problem-solving skills. Plus, the combo of words and images used in mind mapping helps people to be six times better at remembering information than when using tactics that rely on words alone.
Bonus? Because mind maps connect and arrange concepts through natural associations, they can help people come up with more ideas, dig deeper into topics, inspire new perspectives, find deeper meaning in your subject, and help you figure out what you’re not seeing. All of these activities utilize left and right brain thinking processes, which helps people use more of their brain than when they think linearly. Our MindManager product is simple and intuitive — a great introduction for newbies, and a powerful tool for the master mapper.
2. Visualizing Information Improves Retention and Understanding
It should come as no surprise to anyone — in a world fraught with screen-addicted humans — that visualization has been shown to be far more effective at conveying data than simple text alone. With over half of your brain constantly focused on visual processing, 70% of your visual receptors hanging out in your eyes, and an average productivity jump of 8% in teams that consistently use visual tools, it’s also not surprising that comprehension and retention rise when we turn over our tasks to imagery and illustration. We start thinking of stuff we have to get done as the jumping off point for what we’re capable of doing; when we see projects visually, we see them differently.
Mindjet ProjectDirector uses a variety of visualization techniques to encourage teams to collaborate more effectively and find new and better ways of getting things done. It’s pretty hard to get creative with a series of bullet points, but ProjectDirector opens up an entirely new — and beautiful — world of project management.
3. Crowdsourcing and Challenges Jump-Start Divergent Thinking and Collaboration
Although many people panic when forced to think on their feet, there’s evidence that ideating under pressure can actually unleash your inner genius — as long as you don’t fall victim to groupthink. It’s important that people be given the freedom to ideate individually so they aren’t tempted to simply follow participants with louder voices. But once that’s been done and ideas are brought into the fold of the crowd, evolution happens — people start bouncing concepts off of other concepts, or become inspired to think of entirely new ways of doing something.
SpigitEngage uses crowdsourcing, Pairwise voting, and challenges to help organizations manage all of the creativity that starts to bubble out of people once they’re given a forum in which to bubble. While we won’t claim that our product is going to make your ideas better, we can promise that you’ll be able to handle them more efficiently, which takes a bit of the pressure off (after all, no one really likes herding cats). In turn, you’ll be able to encourage your crowd — whether internal or external — to generate ideas more often, and you’ll be giving them a structured space to do it in. True, creativity and structure don’t usually go hand-in-hand, but with SpigitEngage, they can.
The post 3 Ways Mindjet and SpigitEngage Help Spark Creativity appeared first on Conspire: A @Mindjet Publication.
Although 2013 is coming to a close, it’s worth reflecting on what global industries predicted this year’s focus on innovation would bring in terms of growth and success. Despite a shaky economy, an overwhelming percentage of executives that participated in Kelly Outsourcing and Consulting Group‘s Executive Outlook 2013 survey – 89% — were counting on expansion and believed they would maintain competitive advantage in their respective markets.
This infographic drills down into what global executives expected their 2013 innovation efforts to deliver. Did they hit the mark, or fall short?
The post Leading for Innovation and Growth: Executive Outlook 2013 [INFOGRAPHIC] appeared first on Conspire: A @Mindjet Publication.
Just last week, we hosted a webinar with Forrester VP and Analyst Chip Gliedman, wherein we discussed his best practices for implementing an effective innovation process in your organization.
In addition to some great discussion around the concepts of identifying business sponsors, developing skills in-house, and establishing end-to-end processes, Mr. Gliedman and Mindjet’s Milind Pansare provided insight on the importance of choosing the right management platform.
- Companies with innovation programs grow 3x faster than their peers.
- Sustainable programs help bridge the gap between ongoing and disruptive change.
- Good planning and consistent implementation ensure that you’re getting the most from your innovation tools.
- Your program needs to be in effect constantly, not periodically.
Closing the Loop
You can watch the recording here, or check out the SlideShare presentation, below. Don’t forget to join us for our next Innovation Cafe, Adding Innovation to Your Organizational DNA, happening on December 4th.
The post Innovation Cafe Recap: Best Practices for an Effective Innovation Process appeared first on Conspire: A @Mindjet Publication.
Silicon Valley is far. Not far if you are in California, not far if you are in Berkeley, perhaps even not far from New York. We will come back to that.
Being in the technology industry, as I am, we are focused on innovation very close to home. We think of Silicon Valley — which is right at my doorstep — as the hub of innovation. In fact, innovation is alive and well in far flung corners of the world.
Emerging Technologies and Displacement
When we think of innovation, it’s typical to think about emerging technologies, SaaS, Cloud, enterprise software, biosciences, wearable technologies, etc. and the resulting impact on the user. Standout examples include Apple iTunes’ impact on the way consumers buy and store music. Or Hyperloop, Project Glass, or lab-grown burgers.
The collaborative or sharing economy and self-service economy are just a few examples of how innovation is driving growth in the private sector. But there’s another market ripe for innovation that’s often overlooked. While innovation is often used in the public and private sector, it is often neglected in humanitarian work.
The number of people forcibly displaced worldwide has reached 43.7 million, the highest number in 15 years, according to a report published to mark World Refugee Day. These people are displaced due to various conflicts, and very often not due to self-initiated reasons. Forty nine percent of refugees are women and girls. Six countries in the world are sources of two-thirds of the world’s refugees.
All too often, people get stuck in refugee camps for many years, with an average length of stay of 12 years — examples include Somalis in Kenya, Eritreans in Sudan, Sudanese in Chad, Afghans in Iran and Pakistan, and Burmese in Thailand. Refugees are some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Whole generations live in refugee camps in remote places and face challenges, besides accessing information and services.
Silicon Valley is far from this growing refugee population –however, the alchemy of innovation does not restrict change and transformation to Silicon Valley.
Innovation in the Face of Adversity
For the past 60 years, the United Nations’ Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has been committed to continually adapting and innovating in the face of ongoing emergencies and the rapidly changing world to better enable tens of millions of people to restart their lives. Today, UNHCR is the leading agency providing refugees and others of concern with protection and humanitarian assistance through its commitment to innovation.
On August 12, 2013 UNHCR launched a six-week challenge asking its community — including staff members, partners and academic institutions — how to improve access to information and services for refugees living in urban areas, with the winning idea to pilot next year. By leveraging an innovation management platform, UNHCR is engaging its global community of staff members, partners and academic institutions to generate new ideas and help refugees.
This is just one example of how UNHCR is solving challenges that refugees face around the world with more efficient, effective and creative solutions to enhance their protection, empowerment, self-sufficiency and dignity. From process improvements including shelters, briquette making and solar cookers, humanitarian innovation is making its mark and transforming lives.
This should appeal to the private sector. Innovating for over 43 million people has a huge potential for growth. The alchemy of public, private, national, even global engagement is necessary and can work wonders. UNHCR’s fundraising strategy includes philanthropy, but also corporate social responsibility to recognize the power of innovation.
For example, the IKEA Foundation has a unique partnership with the UNHCR — a partnership to design and build better homes for refugee families. Many of the materials currently used in refugee camps, such as tents with canvas, ropes and poles, often have a life span of as little as six months because they are impacted by sun, rain and wind. This represents a huge burden for aid agencies to create a more dignified life for millions.
People with expertise in plastic, manufacturing, steel, and solar technologies came together to create the Refugee Housing unit that provides economies like never before. These are being currently being tested on the border of Ethiopia, with feedback mechanisms to collect information from refugees and feed that back into design. Such innovation is vastly different because it transforms lives and gives refugee children and families a safer place to call home. The IKEA Foundation is also funding UNHCR’s search for other innovations, such as solar street lights, that will improve the lives of refugee families.
Innovation has a chemistry, an alchemy that comes together to create innovation at personal, business, community, society, national and global levels. It is in fact, an intrinsic human desire that requires more attention in far-flung corners of the world. Humanitarian innovation has the power to transform lives and make a real difference through efficient, effective and creative solutions.
The post Humanitarian Innovation: The Power to Change the World appeared first on Conspire: A @Mindjet Publication.
When facing the rough terrain that is today’s demanding marketplace, more great ideas see the business end of budget cuts than they do the light of day. After all, translating an intangible concept into an executable thing is almost always easier said than done. But never fear! With a little bit of strategy, your company can turn typical outcomes around, and stop perpetuating a culture of discarded ideas.
This infographic from Jama shows the relationship between organizational structure and project completion, and demonstrates the role that process, collaboration, and customer engagement play in successful execution. From taming the vicious scope monster to engaging your customers at ever interaction, it becomes clear: collaboration is key, and repeatable innovation is absolutely possible.
The post Capitalizing on Ideas and Delivering Successful Projects [INFOGRAPHIC] appeared first on Conspire: A @Mindjet Publication.
Your boss comes to you with a problem, and you need to come up with an innovative solution, pronto. What’s the first thing you do? More often than not, I bet you grab a group of your smartest peers, get them together in a room, and have a no-holds-barred brainstorming session to come up with ideas on how to solve it. You know, the kind where you write everything down on a whiteboard and no idea is too crazy.
And that’s where you’ve made your first, and potentially biggest, innovation mistake.
A Feel-Good Idea with No Science Behind It
Group brainstorming is so tightly woven into the fabric of business culture as to be nearly sacrosanct. Bring people from all levels of the organization together. Pose a problem and let the creative juices flow. Everyone has a voice. Every idea gets written down. Then, through the magic of collaboration and collective innovation, the right solution rises to the top. The process feels so intuitively right, so egalitarian and empowering, so emotionally satisfying.
Sadly, it’s also bullsh*t. Numerous studies have shown that contrary to its goal of bringing forth fresh and innovative perspectives, group brainstorming actually makes us less creative. Says Keith Sawyer, psychologist at Washington University:
Decades of research have consistently shown that brainstorming groups think of far fewer ideas than the same number of people who work alone and later pool their ideas.
Ouch. Thing is, when we brainstorm in groups, we tend to unconsciously gravitate toward safe, uncontroversial ideas because we’re afraid of looking dumb in front of our bosses and peers, thus turning the entire exercise into a race toward mediocrity. Oh, the irony…
Two Heads Are (Sometimes) Better Than One
Before you retreat to your cubicle in isolated despair, take comfort in this — humans are still at their most creative when they collaborate. If that assertion feels at odds with the paragraphs above, it’s because we don’t truly understand what it means to collaborate well. What so often passes for collaboration in the business world could more accurately be described as getting things done by committee.
Effective collaboration requires more than just sitting in a room and making decisions together. Of course team goals, deliverables, and ownership need group buy-in and consensus at the start of a new project. But just as critically, each member on a team must be granted the space and autonomy to individually own his or her piece of the project, as well as the time and resources to get it done.
What we call the collaborative process, then, is really a cycle of group convergence and individual work that ebbs and flows over the course of a project – the team meets to kick things off, individual contributors disperse and complete their assigned tasks, the group comes together to review progress and offer feedback, and the cycle repeats until completion.
Thus like collaboration, brainstorming works best when it combines the diverse perspectives of a group with enough individual autonomy to move beyond standard groupthink and get to genuine creative breakthroughs.
Brainstorm Alone, Debate Together
Balancing individual autonomy with group collaboration sounds all well and good in theory, but we typically go about it all wrong. We pay lip service to the importance of trusting and empowering our people, but in practice, we err on the side of formalized process, institutional memory, and group consensus.
To really make innovation work, there’s one more ‘c’-word that we can’t ignore: Conflict. It turns out that conflict, that state of being we spend so much time and energy trying to avoid at work, can actually be great for stimulating both creativity and innovation.
There’s a big difference between treating respectful conflict as a way to bring forth great ideas and using conflict to reinforce a toxic culture, of course, and if your organization is dealing with the latter, your problems run far deeper than ineffective brainstorming.
As long as we’re talking about the former, try this the next time you have a big challenge to think through — pose it to your team, ask them to brainstorm individually first, and then vet the ideas later as a group. Don’t be surprised if you get more, better, fresher ideas as a result.
Counterintuitive as it sounds, embracing conflict is one of the most empowering things you can do for your team. It’s a way to hone and sharpen existing ideas and bring forth new and unexpected ones. It shows that you trust your people enough to let them have their own opinions, that it’s ok to disagree about the best way to do things, and most importantly, that no one’s decisions, not even the CEO’s, should be followed blindly.
In a corporate culture that still clings to antiquated command-and-control management styles and winner-take-all machismo, conflict isn’t just helpful; it’s a necessary agent of change.
The post The Biggest Innovation Mistake You’re Probably Making appeared first on Conspire: A @Mindjet Publication.
Welcome to Conspire’s Super Happy Fun Friday Link Time, a weekly collection of cool discoveries from around the Web. Most times the goal is to get you thinking differently about communication, collaboration, culture, and life in general. Other times, LOLCAT ATTACK! Submissions are welcome, and you can send them to email@example.com for consideration.
SF’s Gotham and the Batkid
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, the time is ripe for random acts of kindness and as many heartwarming stories as we can handle. Today’s news has been overtaken by one in particular, having to do with 5-year-old Miles Scott, who is currently in remission from leukemia, and who’s one wish was to be a superhero for a day.
The day dawned blue and warm. Perfect weather for a robbery. Or so the Penguin thought.
Saving the day while raising the spirits of a major U.S. city was pint-sized Miles Scott, 5. Miles is in remission from leukemia, and, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, managed to turn his obsession with comic book heroes into the real thing. Well, almost. There was no way Penguin was going to get away with anything on Friday.
Thousands of San Franciscans responded to an avalanche of social media blasts, lining the streets wherever Miles and a full-sized Batman swooped into action. At Hyde and Green streets, there was a damsel in distress to rescue, and the bat duo arrived in a Lamborghini with Batman decals. At 550 Montgomery St., a burgled bank vault needed to be liberated. And at Union Square, there was a hamburger to down.
Way to go, SF. Oh, and President Obama had this to say about it.
Help the Victims of Typhoon Haiyan with an Unselfie
In an effort to drive more donations and relief towards the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, social media users are flipping one of the more self-centered trends on its head with waves of “unselfies.”
“Social networks in the Philippines have become indispensable sources of information and aid for Haiyan survivors…Photos not relevant to the current disaster are discouraged. However, people have been posting ‘unselfies’ where instead of showing their face, they show their support for the Philippines by holding up a piece of paper with the URL of the donation page to send aid.”
15 Images That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity
You’ll need to see them all for the full-on warm fuzzies, but here’s a sneak peek to get you started:
The post Fun Friday Links: Today We’re Thankful for These Awesome Acts of Humanity appeared first on Conspire: A @Mindjet Publication.
As businesses hop aboard the repeatable innovation train, it’s imperative that leaders get a few things straight from the get-go. If you’re going to do innovation right at your company, you’ll need to do more than just implement a few changes. You’ll need to acknowledge the possibility that your efforts aren’t panning out because you’ve been going about innovation all wrong, all along. And that’s just the first step.
To help you work towards implementing a functioning innovation system, here are the 10 Commandments of Repeatable Business Innovation.
1. Thou Shalt Not Resist Change
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? But the all-too-common tactic for many companies is to wait around for great ideas to magically appear, then hope that you are lucky enough/ have enough money/ are not innovating while Saturn is in retrograde, so you’ll have the chance to turn them into something more. That’s ’broke’, so it’s time to take a different approach.
2. Thou Shalt Not Ignore the Data
Innovation is a science, people. Pay attention to patterns so you can better predict how well current and future innovations will fare, or to help you identify the innovators in your company.
3. Thou Shalt Not Be Afraid to Take (Calculated) Risks
If you’re not upsetting the status quo, you’re not innovating. Period. But don’t disrupt just for the sake of disrupting; understand your market, see Commandment #2, and build a strategy that allows for both reward and resiliency.
4. Thou Shalt Leverage the Power of the Crowd
Using crowdsourcing is a spectacular way to push innovation efforts in the right direction, but it must be done with structure. Make sure you’re checking in with your crowd, using voting mechanisms, and posing thought-provoking questions and challenges — i.e., not things like “Do you like this idea?”
5. Thou Shalt Be Okay with Failure
Failure sucks. It also helps us to learn, grow, and do better than we’ve done before. Avoiding it is not only futile, it’s boring, and it cuts us off from our own potential. Let it happen; just don’t do it the sa
6. Thou Shalt Not Consider Appropriation to be Innovation
Stealing someone else’s idea is not innovation. However, finding unexplored perspectives, or using an existing concept as inspiration for making something better, is.
7. Thou Shalt Take a Holistic Approach
Without a holistic approach leveraged across different areas of a business, opportunities are lost. Consider your innovation management program to be the foundation of your overall market strategy; as the system effects every aspect of your company, so should it be influenced by every corner of your organization. Don’t just come up with great ideas — scope them, shape them, and use process to make them a reality.
8. Thy Goal Shalt Be Execution, Not Ideation
From a recent post by Harvey J. Wade: “Success is only achieved when an arrow is fired and it hits the intended target. It’s the same with ideas. If you have lots of ideas that are being discussed, but no one knows what the target is, then you’re unlikely to be innovating successfully.” In other words, don’t base outcomes on ideas — base them on what you intend to do with those ideas.
9. Thou Shalt Trust the Experts
You wouldn’t fill your own cavities. Just sayin’.
10. Thou Shalt Do it Again (and Again)
Need we say more?
The post The 10 Commandments of Repeatable Business Innovation appeared first on Conspire: A @Mindjet Publication.
Happy #thoughleadership Thursday, readers. On today’s agenda: being a Chief Productivity Officer, an interview with Harvard professor Cynthia Montgomery, and how you can become — and remain — a thought leader in your field.
Execute like a CEO
Be the Chief EXECUTION Officer (CEO) for your business, practice, firm or organization! If you want to be more strategic and contribute to your personal and professional success you need to have the mindset of execution. Productivity is about implementation and execution. The word execute means to ‘carry out or to perform’ and it derives from Latin exsequi, “carry out, follow up; punish.” As leaders within our companies we don’t want to punish however we need to have the reputation as someone who performs.
Our take: We’ve written a number of articles on productivity ourselves, and this one does sound a bit like it’s trying to sell us something. But these tips are for those people focused on leveraging their skills and productivity to rise to the C-Suite, and do an incredible job when they get there. It’s good advice that’s applicable for anyone (particularly the 15-minute rule and why canceling meetings is beneficial), especially if the old tricks aren’t working anymore.
4 Things Every Real Thought Leader Has That You Need
When journalists need a quote for an article, it is unlikely that they look for the unreliable source over the credible or the fraud rather than the authentic expert. The same goes for consumers. A company without a reputation of dependable, quality products or services won’t win their business.
The main idea: Your company needs to be seen as the expert. And one way to do this is to utilize the knowledge of your leadership team to create thought leaders in your industry.
Thought leadership paves the way for brands to connect with consumers. It is the ultimate way to humanize an impersonal company image, allowing customers to connect directly with a person, rather than an arbitrary brand.
Our take: Tons of great advice in this piece; you’ll not only learn about the reality of being a thought leader, you’ll learn how to spot the difference between a person or brand that’s disingenuous vs. one that’s truly passionate about their industry. The article highlights the value of driving conversations, which is vital for growth and change.
The Thought Leader Interview: Cynthia Montgomery
From Strategy + Business:
When you look at strategy as a frame of mind to be cultivated, rather than as a plan to be executed, you are far more likely to succeed over the long run. That is the core premise put forth by Cynthia Montgomery, the Timken Professor of Business Administration and former chair of the strategy unit at Harvard Business School, in her book The Strategist: Be the Leader Your Business Needs (HarperBusiness, 2012). The book is based in part on her work over the past five years teaching executive education programs at Harvard for leaders of owner-managed companies. It is also grounded in her work with large diversified companies.
Says Montgomery: “A strategy shouldn’t be only a document, or an occasional exercise. It should be a way of looking at the world, interpreting experience, and thinking about what a company is and why it matters.”
Our take: Readers, make sure you have a chunk of free time to devote to this piece. It includes a video and over 8 pages of Q+A — it’ll take some time to get through, but the high-level perspective and extremely thoughtful conversation is both provocative and worth it.
There is power in the phrase “ask and you shall receive,” but sometimes asking is the hardest part. If you can find ways to ask powerful questions, it is amazing what you will receive. With today’s technologies, such as those found in our Spigit platform, it’s easy to bring people together from across different locales, continents, and networks.
Devising a strategy to effectively tap into these networks is important to yielding the best results both from a participation and value perspective. Leverage the power of social networking and crowdsourcing to “ask” your people to contribute their ideas and thoughts in tackling your biggest business issues. Regularly launching challenges will provide opportunities to find innovative ideas and approaches to real problems.
Here are some quick tips to be successful in launching large, enterprise-wide challenges, or even small, more focused ones. Garnering the power of your people to help address business issues, you might be surprised as to what ideas they have in tackling them.
1. Identify the Business Issue
Clearly articulate the business issue in a way that will help generate ideas. Be Focused. Be Specific. Be Articulate. Finding the balance between a general question with a specific outcome is key to engaging the crowd to share their ideas, thoughts, and comments.
2. Execute an Effective Communications Plan
Focus on all levels of communication and from various parties. Most times, people want to hear from the CEO but they will listen and implement if they hear it from their boss or their bosses’ boss. Create a way to cascade message sending from an executive leader through to a person’s direct report. The unfortunate/fortunate truth is that a person is more likely to read a communication that comes from a person closer in the organization hierarchy. People respond differently, so it is important to have a cross functional approach to communication to attract as much participation as possible.
3. Create Engagement
With the Spigit platform, collaboration and engagement is real time. Building on ideas in real time, and getting as many people involved to share thoughts and perspectives as possible, is important to building out a robust idea. This also shortens the time it takes to evaluate and evolve the idea once the challenge is closed. Having ideas evolve throughout the challenge will give the reviewers more information to make a decision, and thus speed up the decision making — and in some cases, the implementation process.
4. Evaluate Ideas
Get the right people around the table. Prior to the challenge, it is important to consider who are the “right” individuals to evaluate ideas post-challenge. The group should be small and focused, but have enough diversity in experience and background to help bring different perspectives and considerations to the table. You will want to include individuals that may or may not have a direct relationship and responsibility with the idea post-challenge, as getting different types of perspectives in the evaluation phase is critical.
5. Recognize Your Innovators
Everyone wants a thank you — it is the smallest token of appreciation — and it can go a long way. Make sure to thank not only those with ideas, but those contributing their thoughts, comments, and even votes. Everyone’s contribution, no matter how big or small, is important to recognize, as it is all part of the process of innovation. Thank yous and performance notes are just some of the easy and simple ways to show that participation is not only appreciated, but valued. I recently read a great article highlighting some great ways to recognize employees, titled “Low Cost Ways To Show Employees They Are Highly Valued” by FastCompany. I don’t know about you, but after reading that I am all for the Dry Cleaning service!!
6. Implement Quickly
TAKE THE IDEAS AND RUN! Converting ideas to business value is the most critical and the most challenging task. It is important to create accountability and responsibility to help move ideas along a path towards implementation, and to address barriers as they arise is key to keeping the momentum going.
The post Powering an Innovation Challenge: Six Quick Tips for Success appeared first on Conspire: A @Mindjet Publication.
At the start of October, popular mail service and all-round internet whizz-kid Yahoo celebrated its 16th birthday. Rather than doing what most 16 year olds would do (sulk), it got out of bed nice and early and tidied its room.
In the Eye of the Beholder
Well, sort of. What it actually did was give its email service a redesign, tidying up its desktop and mobile applications to give them a much more modern feel. Similarly, Apple recently announced its iOS 7 mobile operating system. New app logos, fonts, and lock-screens excited Apple fans around the world; however, the feedback on the functionality wasn’t so positive. Many people felt that it was missing too many essential features.
As these two technology heavyweights introduce their shiny new interfaces to mixed reactions, it begs the question: how do you balance the beauty of your product design with the functionality beast?
Think for one moment of a kettle designed by James Dyson: it would probably look pretty slick, but what if it didn’t cause water to boil? Functionally, it would be totally useless, leaving a lot of people frustrated with a product they couldn’t use, and significantly damaging the brand’s reputation. On the other hand, most people do take an element of design into consideration when choosing their kettle. They want something pleasing to the eye, an obvious on-switch, and an appliance that coordinates with their kitchen décor — whilst brewing a good old cuppa, of course!
Getting this balance right is essential, even when designing and choosing software for business. The human brain is wired to digest things more easily when they’re presented in a visually stimulating way. Our own research found that, if business information is displayed visually, we become 17% more productive and use 20% fewer mental resources. Looking back at another post I wrote,‘10 Reasons Information Visualisation Rocks’, when you think that almost 50% of our brains are focussed on visual processing and 70% of all our sensory receptors are in our eyes — it’s easy to see why.
Our own product development team is always conscious of getting this balance right when evolving our offering. For example: the latest update in ProjectDirector, where we introduced the new Bubbles view. We know that keeping track of different projects and tasks can get confusing, so we specifically developed a new function to help users see who’s doing what — or not doing much — at a glance, and ensured that it was visually stimulating and easy to use.
Balancing beauty and the functionality beast is no easy feat, when either designing or purchasing software. It’s essential to keep both aspects in mind, without letting either eclipse the other. In my opinion, it’s always best to focus on functionality in the first instance to ensure the product actually solves the initial problem it was designed to solve. Then once this box has been ticked, consider the role that visualisation and good design plays before making final decisions.